The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct – Xbox 360
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Terminal Reality
Release Date (NA): March 19th, 2013
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Nerd Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Reviewed by Rhutsczar
Hey look! It’s time to review the fantastic Walking Dead game! No, sorry not the fun Telltales version. I decided to finally give this Walking Dead game a try. Needless to say, I was not surprised and was actually quite disappointed. You would figure that any game branded with a fan favorite character should at least be fun and not make me hate the character, right? Spoilers will be abound, as this is one game you should never play.
*Warning. This review contains spoilers.
Anyway, you may be wondering what actually made Survival Instinct so damn bad. Let’s start with the story. The player takes control of fan favorite Daryl Dixon as he discovers survivors, scavenges for supplies, and fights/sneaks around walkers so he can survive. Along the way, we meet Daryl’s brother Merle Dixon with his deceitful nature and we get caught up in his escape from the United States military. Eventually Daryl, along with his fellow survivors, reach the evacuation site.. The survivors board a helicopter to escape with a bitten pilot, their fates are left unknown. Daryl and Merle luckily realize this and escape.
Every Baconeer knows that licensed games are normally complete and utter bullshit. The only great one that comes to mind is Batman: Arkham City and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. If you really think about it, Survival Instinct actually could have been a really well-made game. You take arguably the most likable character from The Walking Dead franchise, our favorite redneck Daryl Dixon, and set him in a prequel story before the events of AMC’s show. I would include the graphic novel, but for those of you who don’t know, Daryl Dixon is not in the graphic novel.
Now lets move on to what I actually enjoyed in Survival Instinct, believe me this is going to be short. I was happy to see that Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker reprise their roles from AMC’s series, portraying Daryl and his brother Merle Dixon respectively, in Survival Instinct. While I bet they regret being part of this game now, their voice acting is the best part of Survival Instinct, hands down. Reedus and Rooker jumped into their characters and nailed every single shitacular line that the writers gave them.
Unlike most zombie games, and even the show itself, Survival Instinct focuses on killing from the shadows rather than just spraying and praying to your higher power that you kill something. Also, unlike The Walking Dead‘s main cast, you are not guaranteed to hit every single target with a head shot and only fail when the plot warrants you to do so. Throughout the majority of the game, I actually recommend to save your ammo as much as possible. It is rather rare, but you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of a zombie-horde with only your knife. Unfortunately, this is where the decent parts of the game end and it is just lines and lines of failure from here on out.
Let’s start with the tutorial. The tutorial is rather basic just like any other game, slowly walking you through the controls of the game. The controls are very easy and if you have played any first person shooter or adventure game before then you will be able to pick it up with ease. After learning how to sneak and play the game casually, it decides to just add more and more zombies until you die. Surprise though, you were actually Daryl and Merle’s father. What an idiotic way to introduce that character and start off Survival Instinct. Well at least we are headed in the wrong direction right from the get go.
Now in a zombie game, what would you think is the main objective? Survival of course! Unfortunately, Survival Instinct fails in this area as well. Each main level is rather straightforward; make your way from point A to point B without dying. The mini-missions are not much better either, as they involve menial tasks that all and all end up being a complete waste of time. Could it be any more linear? Why yes it could!
How does Survival Instinct look? Very subpar. While the game was launched closer to the end of the Xbox 360‘s career, it looks like little more than a launch title. The graphics severely lack major details, making the in-game models do not appear to be designed by professionals. These graphic designers are amateurs at best. The physics system isn’t any better as weird bugs will cause fired crossbow bolts to float in midair. The Undead will also accept the sweet elegance of death that the player brings but will come right back to life. Video game physics…
Now the moment everyone has been waiting for… the walkers. When looking at them from a distance, they appear to be well detailed. This could very well be the case, only if you didn’t look hard enough to see that there are may be ten different walker designs. If you are attacked by a horde you will often see duplicate walkers hiding among the crowd. You would think the game would have varied and detailed zombie designs too, especially considering that the series prides itself on unique zombie appearances.
Now how does it feel to actually fight one of the walkers? Pretty disappointing. Most individual walkers can be killed with one strike as long as their back is turned. The more you kill a walker with a single strike, the more kick-ass insta-kill animations you will be able to see! Sorry, just teasing you. There are maybe six animation kills in total, and they all involve Daryl’s knife. You have this badass ax that you have been killing with for a while, but Daryl totally put that away to insta-kill with your knife. That is definitely efficient. As long as you take them on one at a time, then you can easily take them out with three strikes. Just try not to be swarmed as Daryl is pure garbage in a multiple enemy combat situation.
I want to make this clear right from the get go. Beyond Daryl, I could not give even the slightest care about any of these characters. There are a handful of plot-driving characters that you have to interact with, but most of the others you can have little to no interaction with if you choose to. Why they didn’t make Survival Instinct be emotionally driven like The Walking Dead TV series? Take note developers, if you are making a licensed game for a popular TV series and the series is popular for a certain reason you should probably fall in line.
You can only transport a small number of these survivors (until you fill up the seats in your car) and they are even more worthless while you are traveling. To make matters worse, these NPCs don’t even assist you in the various side missions available! The only way they are even remotely useful is to go on supply runs, which they will most likely die on anyway. The one thing I don’t understand is why the hell doesn’t Daryl just ride his motorcycle the entire time? It is a signature trait of the character in the series, yet in Survival Instinct a car is your main mode of transportation. Weak…
While I am not sure what kind of budget Terminal Reality allocated for Survival Instinct, shouldn’t you actually focus on the production value just a bit? This is key not only for any game, but especially one that is licensed for a series that is known for amazing production value. This stood out most in the design of each level, as I could appreciate the time the developers spent in trying to make each town look abandoned. Unfortunately, this didn’t play out well. The further you dive into the black hole that is Survival Instinct, you will often find yourself seeing locations repeated and the same design over and over. What happened Terminal Reality?
On top of everything, Survival Instinct is a massively buggy nightmare. Bugs, bugs, and bugs galore! My favorite is on multiple occasions I would kill a zombie and the zombie would die, obviously. Once the corpses would drop to the ground, half the body would be stuck in the ground and continue to move as if it were alive. What got me is that it didn’t matter which weapon I used, whether it was by blade or by bolt. I am just lucky that I didn’t encounter any game breaking glitches, as they might have made my experience a little more tolerable.
Overall, do I recommend that any of you put yourself through Survival Instinct just like I did? Definitely not. This game definitely falls into the “licensed games that shouldn’t have been made” category. Whether it be the poor graphics, the repetitive level design, or limited gameplay, any player will easily find plenty of faults with Survival Instinct. I took this bullet for the Nerd Bacon so that y’all don’t have to. However, I do recommend checking out TheBiPolarBear’s review of Telltales’s The Walking Dead: Season 1, as well as Justicescooby’s reviews of both Season 1 and Season 2.
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