The Walking Dead Season 2 Finale: The End of the Line

No Going Back is an apt title for the Season 2 finale of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. With the last episode being the worst in the entire series, there was a lot riding on this finale for me. Season 3 had already been announced and I was beginning to question whether I was still on board after loving the first season but having growing frustrations over the last few episodes. No Going Back is certainly the best episode of the season, and has some of the best moments we’ve ever been forced to endure and participate in.

Action sequences and zombie encounters are really limited and I really enjoyed the change of pace. Usually the more dialogue heavy episodes can become rather boring, and while some early scenes were slightly drawn out, the final few scenes had so much drama that I really didn’t need to dodge some zombie bites to keep me interested.

One of the few action sequences involves the group crossing a frozen lake slowly to reach the other side. You immediately know it is going to go wrong but you still find yourself holding your breath, slowly walking, in hope to not break the ice below. The scene is very well done and builds to a real heart breaking moment which actually really worked even though I thought I was over these sort of moments. I hope the series can recreate this on a more consistent basis going forward.

It was really nice to see a different side of the characters during the campfire scene as we start to see them actually relax and make jokes with each other. Seeing the characters poke fun at Luke and Jane after their “encounter” from last episode was great to see as it is how a group of friends would react in that situation. Seeing their more human side you can relate to rather than just the constant battle for survival goes a long way in making the supporting cast more than just zombie food but fully fleshed out characters.

One interaction I thought really worked in this episode was that between Kenny and Arvo. The age of Arvo meant he was young enough to still be deemed a kid by some but also old enough, in a world where you have to grow up fast, that he could still be punished for his actions. It is classic Telltale; putting you right in the middle of a dilemma and forced to pick sides or stay out of it. I wanted to give Arvo the benefit of the doubt but as his actions became increasingly dangerous to the group I immediately switched to Kenny’s way of thinking and wanted nothing more to do with the boy.

One small criticism which surprised me playing this episode was how some dialogue choices felt really flat, especially from Clementine. The voice acting throughout is usually so incredible and I’ve never had an issue before; but there were a few times when my selected option was just said with no meaning or gravitas. Especially when the situation called for it. This could be a problem of having to record so many different dialogue options that some ‘first takes’ may slip through the cracks occasionally but it did slightly kill the momentum from what is usually some of the best VO in the medium.

Things slowly progressed along to where you know it will end up, and you also know you will be forced to make a incredibly important decision. It is in that impending doom that really makes what happens on screen really uncomfortable. The final moments can really be played out in so many ways and all of them are so well done that I’m glad I went through and redone them a few times to see the different outcomes. Even if in the end I still am satisfied with my first choice in the situation.

Of course without spoiling anything I found the way the ending was approached to be very fascinating and extremely ambitious by Telltale. This is possibly the biggest divergent of paths we’ve ever seen and your choices in the final moments completely changes where and who you ultimately end up with. Of course certain actions at the start of Season 3 can easily pull everyone back to a similar track but I really like how players will truly have their own ending to this chapter in the story. This is what makes these games great and we really have lacked it during the season but its great to see it back when it matters.

One thing I noticed is whether we have had an episode yet when not one of your group dies? Usually we meet new people and others die in every episode which is what made me start to not care about anyone’s fate as they all end up in the same place. I would love to see Telltale have the nerve to maybe try a few episodes in a row where no one of the group is killed off. It would certainly go a long way to solving my criticism of a too disposable cast and make the deaths all that more shocking.

I’m not entirely sure where the series will go from here. I already have a few theories but I may get to them another time before The Walking Dead: Season 3 drops. My concerns haven’t completely evaporated involving the almost too disposable cast and invincible protagonist, but I definitely feel more inclined to continue the story than I was after Episode 4. The big moments felt as strong as those of the series’ past; and one emotional moment in particular was phenomenally well done that I am still thinking about it many hours on. We know that the series will continue for at least another five episodes and I really hope Clementine’s story continues to progress as we really are seeing one of the great video game protagonists on our screens.

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The Second Coming of Console Survival Horror

One of the most surprising aspects of this year’s Gamescom was how well the survival horror genre is currently doing on the new consoles. Specifically Sony seem to be very invested in the genre currently for PlayStation 4 with Until Dawn being a exclusive title previously for PS3 with Move support, now fully upgraded and looking way more big budget while still be positioned at the horror crowd.

The Evil Within is just around the corner and announced recently is the enhanced Resident Evil remake coming early next year. Then of course one of the biggest stories to come from the show was P.T which ended up being a clever way to introduce a new Silent Hill game by Hideo Kojima called Silent Hills. So where does this revival of sorts come from? Hasn’t horror been dead on the consoles for a while now? Let’s look back at some notable titles from the past and whether or not this current trend is a surprise or not.

Horror games have been around for a very long time but survival horror arguably did not establish itself until Resident Evil was released on PlayStation in 1996. The game spawned two fantastic sequels on the same console and really kick-started the genre as we know it today. The Clock Tower series also enjoyed success in the aftermath as well as Alone in the Dark and the first Silent Hill. This generation may have started what we know think of as console survival horror but it’s peak was still to come.

On PlayStation 2/GameCube we were treated to some of the best survival horror games ever seen on consoles. Resident Evil 4 and REmake were both released as well as multiple Silent Hill and Fatal Frame games. With many other Japanese horror games, this era was a high point for the genre and really set the benchmark in what we would grow to expect from future titles.

The next generation however was a mixed bag. Highlights were Alan Wake, Condemned and the first Dead Space but unfortunately it will be remembered more for a change in direction for some franchises. Dead Space quickly became something else by it’s third iteration, Silent Hill released it’s worst two entries to the date and then there’s the change in direction for Resident Evil.

While Resident Evil 4 was a dramatic change in terms of controls, it was Resident Evil 5 that completely changed the tone of the series. Ultimately it was a good game but really moved the series into a direction more in line with the films and paved the way for the next entry. The less I say about Resident Evil 6 the better before I get angry but overall I think it summed up where the genre was headed. The success of big budget action games like Call of Duty really made developers scared to take a chance on a slower, more atmospheric title in favor of explosions and car chases.

I was convinced this would be where the genre would continue to head going into PlayStation 4/Xbox One but that seems to not be the case so far. Of course we are only talking about console survival horror as the genre has been kept alive elsewhere; on the PC in the form of indie titles. Slender, Outlast, Amnesia and countless others have really reinvented what we expect from the genre with an emphasis on environment and mood over gameplay.

Which brings us to this current wave of survival horror we seem to be at the start of. Why have developers seemingly changed their tune and want to create these games that many deem outdated? Perhaps looking at each individual title rather than them as a whole will help understand. The Resident Evil remake seems to be a reaction to the negative response Resident Evil 6 received by it’s loyal fan base. The best way they could get the fans back on their side was by releasing it’s most loved entry once again, and could also serve as a test from Capcom to see how well it is received before releasing the next new installment.

Silent Hill has been in a bad place for a while now and I thought it would never return to it’s best so this one is more surprising. I believe it stems mainly from Kojima personally wanted to make a game in the series for a while and with the trust Konami have in him at this point they probably had zero objections to any idea that gets people talking after years of stagnation. Hopefully his unique style will suit the strange world of Silent Hill perfectly.

Calling this slew of new announcements a comeback for survival horror on consoles may be slightly premature for several reasons. Firstly these games could potentially turn out terrible and permanently kill the two biggest franchises as well as the return of Shinji Mikami be a huge disappointment resulting in the final nail in the coffin for the genre for good. Also even if these games are all fantastic and suddenly big budget AAA survival horror becomes a viable product once again, horror may never have been dead but just in a bad place after a few mixed releases. We’ll know more this time next year but for now it’s just nice to actually be excited for big horror titles once again.

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Whistleblower DLC – A Tense But Underwhelming Return

After Outlast arrived earlier this year on PS4 (previously a PC exclusive released last year), it certainly made it’s presence known. Due to being free on PS+, and not many games to play on the new system, many gamers tried it out not knowing what to expect. And boy did they get a shock. Those who stuck around long enough found a very solid horror title that was very interesting in the way it presented itself and ultimately a great game. You may have thought you wouldn’t go back to Mount Massive ever again, but now there’s new DLC that could change. Or perhaps you’re best not to go back on that promise.

One of the main reasons for this DLC is to tie up the story from the previous game. You play as Waylon Park, the whistleblower who originally sent an email to Miles Upshur in the main game that triggered this whole series of events. We learn why Waylon was at Mount Massive and why he sent his email in the first place. It is nice how everything ties together but I wasn’t that interested in the story to begin with so expanding upon this was interesting but ultimately not why enjoyed playing Outlast.

The length of the DLC is pretty long considering the length of the original game was around five hours and this will take around two hours to finish, longer if you were to collect all documents and recordings. It is a good length as the pace never slows down as you move to new areas very swiftly and push the story forward throughout most of your time.

Price however could be an issue when you consider the short length. Due to the recent PS4 release being free on PS+, I didn’t mind paying for the DLC as the overall cost for both the main game and this DLC seems worthwhile. But if you bought the game and now this DLC you could feel slightly short changed considering most people will only want to play through the whole thing once.

The violence in Whistleblower does not cut any corners and somehow manages to even top the main game in the amount of craziness on display. Patients are seen performing increasingly disgusting acts, enemies do more than just torture or kill this time and a few scenarios involving our protagonist made me feel rather sick. This was probably the best part of the entire DLC and the only aspect of the experience that managed to match that of it’s main counterpart.

During the first half of the campaign there is a single enemy that keeps pursuing you from area to area. He’s very well designed and pretty damn scary with a buzz saw for a weapon, the sound will send shivers down your spine before you even know where he is. It definitely had a strong Nemesis (Resident Evil 3) vibe as an unstoppable force continues to stalk you over and over again. I was disappointed that this wasn’t carried on throughout the whole DLC but was very cool while it lasted.

The limited gameplay did become an issue the further I progressed as I become slightly bored with the way enemy scenarios play out. Options are either run or hide and most of the time involve me running around some rooms in a big circle to get an enemy further enough away from a door so I can enter it and get to the next section. It does become really stale after already playing most of the main game this way also.

A recurring problem I had during my time was getting lost as to where I was supposed to be going exactly. With it’s extremely dark setting, its so easy to miss an opening in a wall and most easy to miss is when you must climb to access a vent. I didn’t have this problem whatsoever with the main game but found myself on a few occasions having to backtrack through multiple areas before finally spotting the tiny area I had missed. This along with the recurring feeling that comes with enemy encounters made getting through the asylum far more tedious than it was previously.

Most of my concerns unfortunately come from just playing the game for too much at this point. The main game and DLC equates to around seven hours of playing and the things that I loved to begin with start to become more frustrating as the game progresses. The jump scares that were great to begin with become so predictable in the way they play out that you really know when to expect them. Bar one or two occasions, they just fell completely flat for me.

I was a huge fan of Outlast when I played it for the first time on PS4 this year. I thought writing it off as just a series of jump scares was underselling the game and really was one of my favorite horror games for a long time. Unfortunately Whistleblower doesn’t really replicate these feelings too well. While still tense, the limited gameplay and predictable sequences made me more bored than scared. I’m hoping a full sequel can really add more to the experience than this DLC which doesn’t change up anything from the main game, bringing all of it’s faults and wearing thin the best parts originally. Considering how great so many DLC releases have been recently, this definitely isn’t one you absolutely need to spend your time on.

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The Wolf Among Us Episode 3: A Crooked Mile - The Clock is Ticking…

After just a two month wait since Episode 2 was released, Telltale have kept their promise of releasing the episodes quicker after the initial four month wait since the series started. With the events of the previous episode still fresh, the impact of this episode is greater than ever before. What initially started as a whodunit for a murder is now becoming something that could have impact on the entirety of Fabletown itself. Trust is becoming something that is almost impossible to give to someone and the truth is even harder to find. Bigby’s gaming debut is one of the most interesting and underrated stories I have ever played.

An interesting new element in this episode is that of an actual ticking clock that is added to show the race against time Bigby faces in tracking down his suspect. While it is simply an illusion (you can take as long as you want), it does have an effect on the way I played the game. I definitely didn’t have the same level of patience when interviewing people like I usually would. I would become frustrated quickly knowing they were wasting my time and I went straight into threatening people as I couldn’t afford to hear all their usual lies before they told me what I wanted to know.

Telltale really seems to have mastered what makes a great protagonist. With the first season of The Walking Dead we met Lee, a troubled man with a cloudy past but simple intentions. As long as Clementine was OK, everything else wasn’t important. This bond made the player care for the actions of both characters which also lead into Season 2 where we play as Clementine. Now we must fight for ourselves for the first time whilst using the lessons that Lee taught us to survive.

We this in mind I think Bigby is my favorite of them all. He, like the other two I mentioned, has simple intentions at his core; to protect Fabletown. But as we dig further with every episode we are seeing there is way more going on behind those yellow eyes of his. He has been handed a job that maybe he isn’t the best qualified for and may not be able to achieve. The most interesting part of the episode is when Snow White asks whether Bigby is enjoying all the carnage, that he thrives of it. What’s most worrying is that I think she may be right.

The episode introduces quite a few new characters, all of which are once again fantastically well presented and voiced. A problem I have with The Walking Dead is how disposable 90% of the characters feel but this is the complete opposite in The Wolf Among Us. The only issue is that not all characters will get enough screen time as there are over twelve interesting ones to choose from but I would rather this than a bunch that I couldn’t care less about.

Not only does the episode introduce new characters but also mentions others which we seem destined to meet in the future. This anticipation is very clever from Telltale as we know where we are going to end up, but how, when and why is still a complete mystery. This level of storytelling is very subtle but extremely effective and is yet another example of why Telltale are one of the best there is in this field.

The story perfectly blurs the lines between good and bad, black or white so that almost every character ends up looking rather grey. I really am starting to wonder if I can trust anyone (including myself) as it is becoming more clear that more is going on than simply a murder investigation. The world is murkier than ever and I don’t think even the best sheriff could fix the problems that faces this community. Foreseeing a “happy” ending at this point is about as ridiculous as Georgie not swearing at Bigby.

Ultimately, it feels harder and harder to think of new things to say when it comes to this series without spoiling anything. I already love the story, characters, visuals, soundtrack and that shouldn’t be changing anytime soon. This episode ran fine which has been a problem in the past so it’s nice to see Telltale must have been looking to improve this for sometime.

This series doesn’t seem to be getting the same amount of attention that The Walking Dead does probably due to not having the same name recognition but in terms of quality it should absolutely be played by fans of the series or adventure games in general. Even though I love what Telltale are doing with The Walking Dead, I find myself more invested in The Wolf Among Us right now and look forward to the last two episodes of this series more than any other episodic content around right now.

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The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 3: In Harm’s Way - Will You Be A Witness?

The one consistent element that Telltale have unequivocally nailed recently is pacing. Their episodes have started slow, reminding you of prior events and establishing both characters and situations. While still delivering on action and plot development, the episodes seem to gather pace as time goes on until ultimately the finale leaves you with one final punch to the gut. In Harm’s Way may be the best example of this to date with it’s closing moments staying with me until way after the credits had rolled.

An issue I have pondered in the past with this series is that of it’s disposable use of characters outside of Clementine. It is great that no one is safe as it really keeps with the context of the universe, however I do find this unpredictability can be a double edged sword. Most of the time characters can be killed before I can even connect with them and it doesn’t have the impact it desired.

Another aspect of this is that potentially great characters are killed off before they are even given the chance to be great. Ultimately this series rests of Clementine and our care for her but it is a shame that no other character will potentially be given the same chance for players to be invested in. Outside of Clementine, there really isn’t much else to care about in this world. And I guess that bleak realization is kind of the point of all this.

An interesting aspect is how different members of the group treat Clementine. Whilst most treat her older than she is due to her experiences, others still like to treat her as a kid and not someone who can fight alongside the adults of the group. One of the newer dynamics is Clementine caring for Sarah, reminiscent of how Lee cared for Clementine previously. Even though they are similar ages, Clementine is way more acclimatized to the world and is really becoming an almost mother figure to Sarah. I am intrigued to see how this develops in the future but worried at the same time.

During the middle of the episode the action and plot do seem to slightly drag and take a while to progress. The main drive and motivation for the characters has been set up nicely, we know the direction we must head in, but then that conclusion is not brought forward as quickly as you would like. I think this is perhaps due to wanting the length to be longer so the story is stretched and therefore doesn’t flow as easily as it should. It wasn’t a huge issue as things did pick up eventually but a change in direction or twist during this middle lull would have made things even better.

Choices have always been one of the biggest draws of this series with seemingly impossible decisions thrown at the player at an alarmingly rate. Usually it pertains to choosing a person to agree with in an argument or even worse, save their life. But in this latest episode one of the more unique choices is presented to you. Something horrible is going to happen, we can’t prevent it, we simply have the option to witness it or not.

It is in this simple choice that perhaps the most fascinating dilemma that Telltale has ever delivered is achieved. I chose to witness it (this may have happened regardless) and that choice is something I will have to deal with for a very long time. What Clementine witnesses is extreme even by her standards and I really have to wonder what long term effect this will have on her mental state. It could perhaps be the catalyst for a very bleak future.

The actual gameplay is becoming thinner and thinner as the episodes progress which is something I quite frankly embrace. There’s not many games you can play one handed but during most dialogue sequences I find myself just holding the controller for when I need to choose a reply option and really just enjoying the story without having to worry about being able to beat a boss or anything else skill based. It’s becoming closer to a TV show than ever before and while many want some gameplay in their games, what Telltale do deliver is more than enough to keep me entertained throughout.

While I have enjoyed the previous episodes more and this one does somewhat lack the amount of thrilling moments I have grown to expect, there is still enough to quench my appetite after waiting for a new episode. It’s final moments are some of the best the series has ever produced and that alone was worth playing for. Clementine is growing older in front of our eyes and things don’t ever look to be getting any better. Events of this episode could potentially shape her future in a awful way and it is this sort of long term character and story development that only Telltale can produce. I eagerly anticipate the next episode with caution as I worry that things are only heading in one direction.

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The Wolf Among Us Episode 4: In Sheep’s Clothing - The End is Nigh

In Sheep’s Clothing is very much a middling episode. Most of the episode is either referencing past events, mainly the shocking finale of the last episode and the repercussions of these actions, or setting up it’s conclusion in the next. This is where the episode fails to impact memorably outside of one or two moments and does slightly fall short of previous episodes.

Episode 2 had the same problem after focusing on the aftermath of Episode 1 whilst setting up the next very well. It’s hard for every episode to stand out when you have to set up a long term story arc and when the season ends I think it’s best episodes will be the alternating ones i.e 1, 3 and 5. I don’t mind this and the calm before the storm certainly serves a purpose. After a much shorter wait than previously I didn’t feel let down, even if it’s the least enjoyable episode of the season so far.

Speaking of the repercussions of the previous episode, the opening scene involving Bigby dealing with his injuries after his encounter with Bloody Mary is unbelievably gruesome. While The Walking Dead will always be known as Telltale’s bloodiest game, this scene could easily have been the cause of a run in with walkers. Definitely a scene not for the faint-hearted and the type of shocking gameplay I’ve grown to expect from the developer.

By far the best moment for me came when introducing another new character in the form of The Jersey Devil. Immediately after meeting him it becomes clear he isn’t someone Bigby will be befriending anytime soon and the insuring fight was fantastically put together. It felt great teaming up with the Woodsman and this action sequence stood out even more in an episode that was definitely lacking in that department.

Some of the interactions did feel very weak and overall not very important in the grand scheme of things. In particular the scene at Beauty and Beast’s apartment felt very strange as it barely added to their character’s arc and did more harm than good in establishing their role within Fabletown. Other characters such as Bluebeard featured in such a small insignificant role, I’m curious if most of these characters are going to get a proper conclusion when the final episode’s credits roll.

I liked the new dynamic that is slowly being established that is starting to question the authority of Fabletown and if they do actually help its citizens or not. I’m sure this is going to be discussed even further in the finale but I find it interesting that perhaps the ‘bad guys’ of this all actually have good intentions at heart. They want to help and provide to each and every Fable, not just the ones fortunate or rich enough to afford Glamors like the authority does at this moment. This was also present when you are tasked with deciding if certain Fables are allowed to stay here or whether they get sent to the farm. These difficult decisions feel real in the circumstances and leave me feeling more bad than good in most situations.

The game continues to be incredibly stylish and one of the best sounding games I’ve played. It’s electronic soundtrack helps to build the tension during a tense conversation and hypes me as I’m playing so I feel closer to the way Bigby is feeling than any other Telltale protagonist. It’s hard to relate to a little girl surviving in a zombie apocalypse, but an angry guy having to deal with difficult people? Yeah, I can relate to that.

In the context of the season, In Sheep’s Clothing is a solid addition. Individually it falls short of previous entries, but ultimately I believe it serves it’s main purpose; setting up an incredible finale. The entire season has had many twists and turns and as this season ramps up to it’s conclusion, I hope we get answers for many of the questions we’ve found ourselves asking throughout the series. The Wolf Among Us so far has been a brilliant episodic series and a strong final episode could cement it as Telltale’s best to date.

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Watch Dogs - Ubisoft’s Big Hacking Adventure Is Here

Hype can be a strange thing. On one hand, hype is exactly what every developer wants when they show off a brand new IP. People start talking about the game and become increasingly excited to play it and expect something that will blow them away. On the other hand, hype can create completely unrealistic expectations and in the end disappoint the consumer after waiting for such a long time.

Watch Dogs was always going to receive some backlash after it was so well received at E3 2012 and after numerous delays and graphical downgrade rumors, it had seemed the Watch Dogs bubble may have burst. After playing the game for countless hours and having more realistic expectations, Watch Dogs was everything I had hoped it would be when I first saw it revealed. It may not be the crazy, ground breaking next generation experience some had hoped, but it is a fantastic open world game with enough unique elements that fans of the genre should not hesitate to play.

Watch Dogs tells a simple story of revenge after our protagonist, Aiden Pierce, suffers a horrible tragedy. A failed robbery leads to the death of his niece instead of him and he seeks to track down and make the people responsible pay for these actions. By no means the next great video game story, it certainly served a purpose and compared to others within the genre I found it to be interesting enough to keep me invested until it’s conclusion.

I liked Aiden as a protagonist even if he was a little dull at times and sometimes came across as quite robotic. The supporting cast was a mixed bag. Clara was interesting enough but the main enemies felt a little underdeveloped as they didn’t get much screen time for me to care enough about finding and killing them. Going forward I’m not sure I’m attached enough to any of them to care if any feature in future installments. This game’s draw is definitely it’s setting and premise over it’s actual plot and characters.

It’s in this setting and premise that things start to get very interesting indeed. Our own personal privacy is something that is becoming more and more of an issue recently with the rise of cameras and news of agencies like the NSA spying on people. While the game doesn’t directly address any of these issues, it certainly raises the questions and fears that many of us have and I hope this is focused on more as the franchise continues.

Gameplay feels fun and never became frustrating or felt strange in any situation. Gun play is solid when forced to use it but I always preferred using brains over brawn in most situations and cover controls work great. Driving does feel floaty to begin with and takes some getting used to but after a few hours it felt totally fine and what you would expect from this genre.

One of the more refreshing and surprising aspects of the gameplay I found was how well stealth can be implemented in most situations. Sure, there are still plenty of gunfights and car chases but in most combat scenarios I found myself being able to manipulate the environment via hacking and dodging enemies while stealthily executing them all without being seen. I have always loved stealth games but rarely find the mechanics work that well but in this instance I had zero problems. This wasn’t an aspect I expected from this game and was probably what I enjoyed most from the experience.

Watch Dogs did give me a very strong “GTA clone” vibe that was very prevalent during the PS2 era with titles such as True Crime and Driv3R trying to emulate the incredible success of Grand Theft Auto. This is a good thing as I loved all those games and this felt like a modern version of those kind of titles. It has enough new elements to make it stand out but also borrows heavily from the game that started the genre and in the end created my favorite “GTA clone” for many, many years.

However, don’t take that as a criticism. This game has many elements that makes it different to GTA such as it’s fantastic use of stealth that I already mentioned. By far this game’s biggest hook is of course the hacking. I loved how powerful I felt when either destroying a pursuing cop car with a road block or creating an explosion to kill a nearby enemy. Guiding my viewpoint through cameras to access new areas felt new and interesting and overall I feel the way hacking is used is excellent. The individual character profiling could have maybe been more useful but after over 30 hours of play time so far, I still enjoy all the little perks that make this game unique in a very familiar genre.

One of the big things talked about when Watch Dogs was first revealed was it’s always connected world and how players can enter and exit each other’s games seamlessly for hacking and other benefits. Unfortunately this promise is not delivered as the online offering is just a few short modes and ultimately I found myself playing on my own 99% of the time. I don’t mind as I prefer this experience be a single player one but given how important this element seemed to the developer, it’s definitely something that could be improved going forward.

As you would expect from a Ubisoft open world game, there is a ton of content for you to consume outside of the main story. There are numerous collectibles, unlockable songs, extra weapons and cars to unlock; enough to keep you playing for easily over 40 hours. Some of the side missions feel slightly boring but others like the Gang Hideouts are a lot of fun that sometimes require tactics as to how to best approach the enemies. Privacy Invasions are also another cool concept where you hack someone’s camera and see a personal conversation or act. Not all of them are interesting but a few definitely made me laugh seeing what people do behind closed doors.

Chicago looks great, even if it doesn’t feel like a completely alive and fleshed out world. It is a nice backdrop to the action, but none of the vistas will blow you away anytime soon. Getting across the map via fast travel is quick and overall the game runs great. I didn’t experience any glitches or hiccups during my entire time with the game, and that’s something I don’t think I’ve said too often playing open world games.

Watch Dogs, in a lot of ways, is a sum of many parts. Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell have both influenced the gameplay, as well as every open world crime game before it and while it doesn’t do any individual element amazingly well, the overall package is certainly an impressive one. Hacking, the game’s unique selling point does however feel fresh and is enough of a new element that stops Watch Dogs from ever feeling like just another action game. It could do with having it’s own identity more and hopefully as the franchise moves forward this will happen. I really enjoyed the game and would definitely be down for more hacking based, open world craziness with a few of the small oddities fixed to create something very impressive indeed. Until then, there’s still plenty of fun to be had in this very strong first entry.

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The Wolf Among Us Episode 5: Cry Wolf - The Bloody Conclusion Arrives

Cry Wolf, the finale to Telltale games’ impressive The Wolf Among Us has a lot to live up to. Finales already have a level of expectation anyway but when a series is focused around trying to figure out mysteries and get answers, if these answers aren’t delivered in the end it’s easy to feel cheated. Cry Wolf thankfully gives us those answers in dramatic and satisfying ways, whilst still leaving a few questions that leave you wanting more. Take a deep breath before playing as this finale could be Telltale’s best work to date.

The episode begins directly where the last ended almost prematurely with the first face to face confrontation between Bigby and The Crooked Man. While I still think this scene would have been better suited to end the previous episode rather than starting this one, it still served up an incredibly tense and at times unnerving situation to deal with. Trying to stay assertive while also aware that I was incredibly outnumbered felt great and how things panned out set up the rest of the episode very well.

What followed was perhaps my favorite action sequence that I have every played in any Telltale game. The quick time events felt important and dramatic while the onscreen action continued to escalate; I struggled to keep up with it all which I believed was it’s intention. Sometime the action does feel quite small, usually contained within one small space. So it was great to see something take place over a vast area (nearly all of Fabletown) and another sign that Telltale are still thinking of new ways to impress within a familiar formula.

Sandwiched between two action sequences was a more somber moment where we arrived back at the Pudding & Pie and learned more about the unravelling mystery. Georgie and Vivian try to justify their parts in it all which continues to muddy the water in who really are the bad guys in all this. I mentioned in my previous review that the dynamic developing regarding who really is looking at for the best for the people of Fabletown is even more present here and really creates a more fleshed out story than just simple characters and plot. The Crooked Man in particular plays on this a lot towards the end of the episode and really makes you question what your motivation has been throughout the entire series.

In such a fantastic episode it would usually be hard to pick one moment that stands out but without a doubt the fight between Bigby and Bloody Mary stands above almost anything I’ve played in this genre so far. Great boss fights need two things: originality and creativity and this one ticks those boxes so amazingly well. It’s rare that while playing a game I am continually shouting things like “THIS IS AWESOME” but during this fight I couldn’t help myself as the action continued to escalate to a point that I never saw coming. It’s seriously worth playing the entire series just for this moment alone. Bravo to everyone involved in crafting such an incredible sequence.

This moment really felt worthy enough to be a ‘final boss’ in most games and from this point things are way more stripped down but still carry a huge amount of weight and consequence as to how this story will finally be concluded. The Crooked Man as I mentioned likes to turn the mirror on Bigby and Snow White and really makes everyone ponder; are the answers we really want not to the questions we are asking?

It’s final moments play out like a epilogue to all the events and by no means feel like a victory. It stays with the tone of the game throughout in that no one was really going to get the conclusion they wanted and ultimately life in Fabletown is never gonna be the way they all hope it will be. Some questions are left unanswered but it feels more natural rather than just leaving certain things unresolved just so they can be in a sequel. Whether the series continues we will have to wait and see but that either way won’t affect this episode. And that’s exactly what you want from a finale.

Overall, The Wolf Among Us has been an outstanding series. It’s clear that it’s middle episodes were the weakest (2 & 4) but the majority have been excellent and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it throughout. While not having the same name recognition as Telltale’s fantastic The Walking Dead series, I hope that doesn’t deter people from playing as it would be a tragedy for this series to go under the radar. If you haven’t played it already, now that all five episodes are out there hasn’t been a better time to start. So what are you waiting for?

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The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 4: Amid the Ruins: A Rare Misstep or Meeting the Inevitable?

Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead series has been one of the most consistent in all of video games over the past two years. The first season won countless awards, 400 Days was a nice way to continue the story before the second season started and so far I have thoroughly enjoyed the season. However I have expressed some concerns for what I saw as potential problems with the series in the past. Unfortunately many of those problems showed themselves in Amid the Ruins resulting in by far the worst episode since this brilliant series started.

My main concern was regarding the doubled edged sword of having such a disposable cast of supporting characters. It is great that the series is unpredictable and that anyone can be killed at any time (except Clementine that I will get to later) but this also leads to not building any connection with these characters and resulting in me not caring what happens to them as a player. Characters arrive, sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad but it seems the end result is always the same. It is mostly just a matter of when will the inevitable happen?

It is of course in this inevitability that the zombie genre has made it’s impact over the years. The sense of impending doom makes even the smallest victories seem important but as the series goes on I do find myself becoming desensitized to most of the acton. For example, in the past some of the actions have really made me feel sad or unhappy with the choices that I made. But in this episode when things go crazy; I just didn’t care.

Most of the characters I can barely remember their names and when a new character appears I don’t even want to try and befriend them as I only really care about Clementine and her alone. Which brings another problem in itself. Playing as Clementine really makes her feel way more invincible than the previous season. Unless she is killed in a season finale and we then start playing as someone completely new, she’s completely untouchable. This results in a terrified little girl being an almost unstoppable killing machine and again takes any sort of consequence from any actions the game gives me. Clementine will always live and as she is the only one I care about surviving during an attack, the action becomes very stale and rather boring.

I really wonder if this is Telltale’s fault and whether they can turn it around or if it’s just an inevitable result of the genre. There’s only so far they can run with the concept before I become completely bored and just switch off immediately like I already have done with the TV show. At times this episode felt like a chore that I just had to get through and I actually felt relieved at the end. Not because of the stress of the situation or choices I had made, but that it was finally over with.

In previous episodes this season I talked about difficult decisions I was forced to make that I really took my time in answering and really felt reflected the way the character would react in that situation. But in this episode so many of the conversations felt completely flat and just filler until the next big set piece happened and X amount of the cast was killed off. The previous dynamic of Carver and whether he wants to protect or hurt the group has been completely thrown away in favor of a generic travelling on the road, avoiding zombies type of story.

The game still looks stunning, the voice acting is in the top tier for the medium and the sound is impeccable. These elements have never been in question. Ultimately this games stands or stumbles on the strength of it’s story and after the first season delivered so dramatically this season have been good but slowly got worse. I’m curious what direction the finale will end up in as there is no obvious end goal or motivation for the characters like Lee had. Now it’s just ‘survive’ and that just isn’t that compelling.

I really hope the season finale can completely eradicate the problems and concerns I have with not only this episode but the series as a whole. I have thoroughly enjoyed a vast majority of episodes but with a third season already announced I really fear the series could turn from nail biting to boring very quickly. Without any of character of significance except the protagonist I find it hard to care about my actions and Telltale should look to The Wolf Among Us to fix these problems as it didn’t just include a strong protagonist but an incredible supporting cast also. I have faith based on the series’ past that I can once again be enthralled in the story; but if the finale doesn’t deliver I may question whether to turn up to the next season at all.

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P.T, Silent Hills & the Strange Genius of Hideo Kojima

It started with a mysterious teaser during Sony’s Gamescom press conference on Tuesday. Entitled P.T, brief footage was shown along with reactions to players experiencing the demo and then the news that everyone could play it now by downloading it from the store immediately. Once the conference had finished I quickly went to download it as I’m a huge survival horror fan and was very intrigued by this new game from an unknown studio. The demo is very tense and atmospheric with no menus or tips on how to play; you simply start walking down a corridor in hopes of learning what on earth is going on.

Learning of what happened in the house via a radio report, suddenly it cuts out with a mysterious voice saying “Behind you, look behind you.” As I slowly turned around a demon was right in my face and let’s just say I let out a shriek that I wasn’t even aware I was capable of. After this initial scare, I settled down and became more intrigued in how to actually progress. I looked at ripped up pictures and started to progress to new areas, whilst still being terrified that the demon would show it’s ugly face once again.

Without completely delving into what else happens, I really liked the simplistic approach but it did seem very random how you do get certain events to trigger. Eventually the phone rang and I finally got to leave the house. As I walked down the street, the names Hideo Kojima, Guillermo Del Toro & Norman Reedus appear on screen before the name of the game that’s being teased is finally revealed: SILENT HILLS. Wow.

An incredibly creative way to announce a new title, Kojima seems to be really experimenting lately after pulling a similar stunt when announcing what became Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Given that this teaser does not reflect what the final game will become, what can we expect? Well judging by the short sequence at the end it’s not that crazy to assume The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus will be the main protagonist, also assuming the main game will be played in third person like previous games.

One thing we can learn is that clearly atmosphere and simplicity will play a part in Kojima’s vision of what a Silent Hill game should be. Whilst still very basic, P.T certainly made me feel very uncomfortable which is something only a handful of horror games have ever done and certainly not in the recent Silent Hill games.

Kojima has already said he wants this game to “make you shit your pants” which the demo certainly did. He also said back in 2012 “Silent Hill in a closed room setting and doesn’t require full action so that we can focus on the graphic quality. Enemy doesn’t have to be a lot or move fast. It only requires scariness by graphics and presentation. As being a creator making action game in open world, such game is very enviously attractive. ” You can certainly see that in P.T.

The other name attached is acclaimed film director Guillermo Del Toro. This one is more interesting as we don’t know in what capacity Del Toro will be involved. While more known for his film and TV work, Del Toro is still no stranger to the video game world. Most notably was a survival horror game called inSANE that Del Toro was to direct which is currently lost in development hell but supposedly not cancelled. Perhaps some of his work on this title will be used in Silent Hills? One thing Del Toro has proven himself on over the years is his monster design and I look forward to see what he can come up with inside Silent Hill‘s twisted universe.

What is most crazy from all of this is that I’m genuinely excited for a Silent Hill game again. Just like Resident Evil, these two franchises I have loved playing for years but in recent times have really turned into something I don’t enjoy. With the news of an enhanced Resident Evil remake and now this news also I am thrilled to see both franchises hopefully being treated with the respect they deserve. With The Evil Within also just around the corner, I really hope console survival horror is back to it’s best and horror fans certainly have a lot to look forward to. Even if Silent Hills probably won’t come out for at least another 12-18 months.

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