This week’s SmashPad Streamkend will be featuring Guacamelee!, which is the latest game from Drinkbox Studios released on PSN this week for the PS3 and Vita. You may know Drinkbox as the developer behind the two Tales From Space games on PSN, which were platformers starring blobs that gained a lot of praise from fans and critics alike. Their latest game is quite a bit different in that it’s more of a Metroidvania-style game featuring a Mexican luchador that sets out to save El Presidente’s daughter after she’s been kidnapped during a disastrous Day of the Dead celebration. Along the way, he earns plenty of new moves and powers to help him explore the environment and defeat plenty of baddies, as you’d expect from this style of game.
This week’s SmashPad Streamkend will feature the Wii U puzzle platformer Toki Tori 2. We will be taking a look at the latest notable release on the Wii U’s eShop, which is a sequel to a classic puzzle game for the Game Boy Color by Two Tribes. The studio has been fairly quiet in regards to this series with just a high-res remake that made the rounds on a number of platforms from 2008 to 2011 before they confirmed that a sequel was in the works. The big change for the sequel is that the small levels of the original are gone in favor of much bigger levels that sort of draw some inspiration from Metroid-style games in their design, though the controls are much simpler with just two moves in your arsenal to work with. Toki Tori 2 is currently available exclusively on the Wii U for the time being for $13.49 with a launch discount until April 19.
When BioShock was released in 2007, it was an amazingly beautiful game on various levels. Graphically, the underwater city of Rapture dazzled with its art deco style. More importantly, the story was fantastic to play through. BioShock 2 was a fine effort and was certainly enjoyable, but it didn’t quite match up to its predecessor. BioShock Infinite is its own effort, presenting brand new characters and a new story. Just how well does it stack up? Incredibly, incredibly well. Read the rest of this entry »
This week’s featured game on SmashPad Streamkend is the console version of Terraria, which has come to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network this week for $14.99 on each service. The console version of Terraria features the requisite controller support, improved crafting and inventory menus, a new boss and enemies, new items and other stuff to find or craft, and four-player splitscreen support with up to eight-player online multiplayer for hectic combat fun. While it’s often compared to Minecraft, Terraria is much more focused on combat as there is a hierarchy of enemies, loot, and bosses to take on as you work towards defeating the final boss before the game enters hard mode and gives you even more to do beyond that. I’ll be playing the PSN version of the game specifically for tomorrow’s show.
If you had to name an immensely popular entertainment property off the top of your head, The Walking Dead could easily come to mind. The comic series began steamrolling its way into mainstream media when the now-critically acclaimed television series debuted in 2010. Gamers were treated to a fantastic gaming experience last year, when Telltale Games released their episodic effort. But that wasn’t a direct tie to the television series. Activision and Terminal Reality give us just that with The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. How does the the game stack up? About as wonderfully as a sole survivor facing 50 zombies without a weapon.
What Is It About?
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct’s intent is to provide backstory for Daryl Dixon, arguably the television series’ most popular character. On the show, Daryl is fairly mysterious, having been thrown into the group’s situation but gradually becoming more and more important. So there’s a fair case for a game to capture what made Daryl who he is and explore the relationship with his brother Merle. Unfortunately, you still have a minuscule sense of what Daryl is about.
The game begins with Daryl returning from a hunting trip to a world overrun by zombies. He moves to find Merle, with whom the game touts you’ll be fighting alongside. I don’t need to approximate how much time you actually spend doing that, because you don’t. Instead, you’ll occasionally have Merle on a radio and rarely have him in the same room. So beyond some brief father-based dialogue and an “I saved your crossbow” moment, you won’t end up anymore knowledgeable about the Dixon boys’ relationship. The game’s story is merely a series of mundane and, at best, frustrating tasks that end on an anticlimactic note.
Why Should I Care?
You shouldn’t care as much about playing the game as you should avoiding it. Now, we all know the dangers of a licensed game. We’re so numb to the genre that it’s hard to expect good things out of most of them. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a shining example of why pessimism should be the immediate attitude towards licensed games.
For starters, the game looks no better than a game straight out of 2005. The immediate comparison I was able to make was to Call of Duty 2, but I feel that was more impressive. There may be more shine on TWD: SI, but jit doesn’t provide any graphical quality. I couldn’t decide what the worst graphical element of the game was, so I’ll call it a tie. The first time you see Merle, his face is decently captured, but the rest of the character is a very basic, horribly simplistic design. Countering Merle’s first impressions are the zombies (walkers, rather), all 5-6 of their designs. Too many end up directly in your face, where you’ll see an overly static face moving back and forth.
Struggle is a main theme to the gameplay. On TV, Daryl is quiet and swift. You play a slow, robotic Daryl whose gestures are too grandiose. It’s understandable that swinging a sledgehammer will be more cumbersome than a knife. I would expect mechanical differences there. But when switching weapons or items turns into a slow-motion affair, it really puts you in a bad spot during walker attacks. Most of the gameplay fails to make sense, though. If The Walking Dead has shown so many times that one good stabbing to the head takes down a walker. Why does the game force you to take anywhere from three to five swings to accomplish that? The combat feels like turn-based fighting in too many situations and your best option will be to execute a walker from behind. That will be incredibly hard to perform, though, when the game throws out dozens of them at you at any given time. The slightest nudge from a walker will come close to stopping you in your tracks, making movement difficult.
Your supporting cast of characters is worth a brief mention, if only to illustrate how worthless and unmemorable they are. You’ll have some forced upon you and some you can opt to bring along. They are meant to make you feel like you’re making tough choices. In reality, they serve no purpose beyond taking up a spot in your car. You have the ability to send survivors out to gather food, ammo or fuel, but they’l mostly become injured. I was lucky to get a couple bits of food, as I was told more frequently that they died and I lost the weapon I provided them. I can’t imagine how easily they could have been killed if they were fighting alongside me. At no point did I feel any tough choices were made.
Much of the game simply doesn’t make sense. You’re playing in a zombie apocalypse setting, so the idea is to scavenge as much as possible, right? But you aren’t allowed to rummage through cars; to pick up cans; to ransack houses. My favorite “really?” moment came when Daryl gets his crossbow (which you use for maybe half the game). It’s stuck underneath dead body, but you can’t grab it. After fighting a couple walkers, suddenly the one with your crossbow attacks you. Upon killing it, the crossbow is again stuck under the body, but you can grab it this time. Because that makes sense.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
I’m hard pressed to find many positives about The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. The story is forgettable and abruptly ends. You won’t feel like anything was resolved or there was any benefit to having experienced this. There are some decent times to be had in Herd Mode, where you’re pitted against waves of walkers and stealth isn’t as important. But the gameplay is just as bland and the mode feels tacked on.
I suppose The Walking Dead was due for something like this. The brand is only increasing in popularity and thus far, most everything it’s been associated with has been executed so well. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct rides the brand too much; take the brand away and you have a game nobody would line up for. This is a bland, forced effort that dilutes The Walking Dead. If you want a fantastic Walking Dead gaming experience, look Telltale’s way instead.
Score: 1.5 | Recommendation: Avoid It
Editor’s Note: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct was purchased by the reviewer who completed the main story in roughly 6 hours. Several rounds of Herd Mode were also completed.
This week’s SmashPad Streamkend will be featuring Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the Wii U as I continue playing the latest game in the series that continues to search for its breakout installment in the West. I’m also expecting to get LEGO City Undercover from Gamefly tomorrow, so that may be coming in hot to make an appearance in the second hour of the show. If that doesn’t arrive in time, then I’ll stick with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the entire show.
Parting is such sweet sorrow, and after getting to know Commander Shepard and company for more than five years now it will be hard to say goodbye. Citadel, BioWare’s last confirmed DLC for Mass Effect 3, is a really nice parting gift for all avid Mass Effect fans. With tons of goodies to obtain, a unique story arc and some of the best dialogue in the entire series, fans looking for one last perfect adventure are hard-pressed to not give this DLC a try.
As March continues, the big hitters take their shots and Kratos’ latest adventure is this weekend’s featured game on SmashPad Streamkend.
God of War: Ascension shows off the angry man’s adventures six months after he killed his family as he’s been taken captive by the Furies, who are the arbiters of blood oaths and those that attempt to break them. As you may be aware of from the other God of War games, Kratos doesn’t take kindly to being imprisoned and tortured, so he breaks free and attempts to take them down. The most interesting aspect of the game is the online multiplayer, which is a first for the series and the developers have done a good job of figuring out how to make it work for God of War. Due to bandwidth issues on my end, we won’t be able to play any multiplayer and will instead focus on single-player. I don’t know that I’ll stick to the game for a full two hours, so there will probably be an hour of Ascension and the rest will be filled with something like Bit.Trip Presents… Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien to change things up with something more silly and light-hearted than God of War.
Sony’s MLB 13: The Show is out this week and it’s also our featured game on this weekend’s SmashPad Streamkend as we take a look at this year’s installment of the best-selling baseball series. This year’s game features some big additions like a new mode that lets you jump right into The Postseason without the pretense of a 162 game season, another new mode that lets you play just real match-ups with accurate rosters for that day’s game called The Show Live, and an overhauled beginner’s mode that attempts to make it easier for newcomers to get into the game. As a veteran of the series, I’m particularly excited by some of the enhancements to Road to the Show that gives the mode’s presentation more of a personal touch this year. Tomorrow’s stream will mostly focus on Road to the Show since I can fit in more games than I could playing a full nine-inning game.
This week presented an interesting challenge as I wanted to shake things up a bit and try out a new platform, which has resulted in me getting my PC ready to stream this week. We will be checking out some Steam games that I’ll be playing in Big Picture Mode so that there’s as little of my desktop in the stream as possible. As for specific games, I had some games like Serious Sam Double D and The Random Encounter in mind along with some of the other weird indie games that I have in my library, so there shouldn’t be a shortage of things to play.