Gamer's Notebook

’Tis the season to kill zombies: The Walking Dead and ZombiU rise to the occasion

By Chris O'Neal 12/06/2012

 

Every year Christmas starts a little earlier, and every year, without fail, people like me complain about it. This year, the day after Thanksgiving marked the first Christmas song heard in a local supermarket, and my sigh could be heard all the way to the North Pole, where no one lives, especially not Santa. It’s the most wonderful time of the year — if you’re planning on staying indoors, away from public spaces. Just in case you are a shut-in like me, why not give these games a go while you’re being a Grinch?


If any of you caught last Sunday’s finale of The Walking Dead, you’ll know that the show won’t be returning to AMC until February. Unacceptable, right? Where are we going to get our overly violent, completely realistic zombie porn until then? Look no further than Steam, the online gaming market for the just-as-amazing The Walking Dead: The Game, which wrapped up its final episode not too long ago and is now available as a full download.


The game begins similarly to the TV show and the comic: Lee Everett, an original character, is leaving Atlana, Ga., via the back of a police cruiser. He’s on his way to prison and has accepted his fate. As luck would have it, a corpse walks into the middle of the road, sending the vehicle careening into the woods. This is where your adventure begins, and boy is it an emotional roller coaster.


Immediately, you’re put in charge of an 8-year-old girl named Clementine whose parents bit the dust (or were bitten and made into ghouls). Lee is given choices — many, many choices — with varying outcomes as the game progresses. Think old-school point-and-click adventures, only with updated graphics and a story worthy of a feature-length film.


What makes The Walking Dead: The Game unique is its five-party, episodic storytelling. When the game is over, the distinct feeling of having just begun sets in, as there is not an ending as much as there is a season finale. Look next year for season two, but in the meantime, put on your zombie-stomping hat and start cutting onions — you’ll need an excuse for the tears you shed.


If you’re looking for a more traditional zombie experience, look no further than the WiiU’s ZombiU, a romp through the zombie-infested streets of London, ripe with bloody biters, bloody crawlers and bloody hell.


In your traditional first-person experience, you’ll wake up in a subway (or as the English call it, a “tube”) and be on your way, knowing already the task at hand: to collect samples for a doctor to whom you somehow owe a debt.


As with The Walking Dead, characters in ZombiU aren’t somehow resistant to being bitten by zombies as they are in Resident Evil or American politics. Rather, if you’re bitten, you die and your character never comes back. You wake up again in the subway as a new character; and if you want any of the stuff you’ve collected, you’ll need to find your old self who is now a zombie, kill yourself and reclaim what once belonged to you.


Something about the holidays just gives me the urge to survive in an apocalyptic nightmare. Tis the season to be gory, fa la la la la la la ugh.


The Walking Dead: The Game: is available for the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 at $24.99. ZombiU is available for the WiiU, $59.99.

Chris O’Neal would totally survive forever in a world overrun by zombies. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.


 

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