Shambling, incoherent, messy, boring, lifeless, limp, smelly, decayed, all these words can be used to describe Zombies, but also Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. A game so poor, that if I were locked in a room surrounded by the undead with only this to play, I would open the door and open my arms to the sweet mercy of death.
FPSs are one of my favourite genres and I have ploughed my way through more than my fair share of middling to poor experiences. Even the poorest of FPSs can get some of the shooting mechanics right and become a mindless slice of entertainment. Walking Dead: SI, cannot even get the mindless entertainment part of the game right, it is almost torture in the guise of gaming.
You story surrounds the Dixon brothers, known for their liberal attitude to race policy and skill to bond a team together. No wait, these are the brothers who have at least one sociopathic racist in their midst – what a hero to play as. In the game you travel across America looking to survive as long as you can (or at least last long enough to get to the start of the storyline in the TV show). To survive you are going to need food, fuel and shelter. You limp across a map coming across contained levels. Within these levels you will need to solve some sort of task i.e. help that bloke, find some fuel etc. It is a shame that nearly every level feels the same and ends so often in death.
Walking Dead: SI is a FPS best played as stealthily as possible. You are not given enough ammo to kill all the Zombies in a level and the handheld weapons are not effective enough to hold off more than one or two decaying cronies at a time. Developers Terminal Reality have tried to create a lifelike death simulator – which basically means that you are surrounded by Zombies more often than not that soon kill you. Not a huge issue if the checkpoint system was a little forgiving. Unfortunately this is not the case and you often end up having to retrace the same steps, and then potentially die in the same place once again.
Perhaps there are other areas in the game that alleviate the frustration of dying so often? Not really. The graphics are uninspiring, whilst in other areas the game is just plain bad. As touched upon earlier, the level design is bland and becomes very repetitive. The core story levels are varied enough, but in between these you will be subjected to walking through boxy building after boxy building in the hope of finding some fuel.
A bonus with the game should be that the voice acting is from the stars of the TV show. Perhaps someone forgot to tell Norman Reedus in particular what his motivation was in each scene, as he sounds about as interested in being there as someone at the Paint Watching Con 2013.
Occasionally, the game clicks into place. You are on an interesting mission with a decent amount of ammo in your gun. All of a sudden you are playing a very uninspiring FPS that could count as passable entertainment. However, this is not the norm. The majority of my playthrough was spent hiding in corners with no ammo and being killed anyway, only for me to respawn about twenty minutes earlier and have to do the section again. Games are meant to be fun, Walking Dead: Survival Instinct = Anti Fun.