Posts Tagged ‘The Walking Dead’

h1

Fear the Walking Dead trailer

July 11, 2015

Now, the zombie genre experienced a massive growth in popularity in the early 2000s. While it has been on the decline – or rather become a staple of pop culture – every now and then something really interesting pops up. As you may or may not know, this blog used to focus a lot more on zombies when I started out in 2009, but the focus has shifted almost exclusively to miniatures. I’m a big zombie fan, but I must admit even my interest has wavered with the over-saturation of the zombie market. This means my interest is nowadays not easily piqued when it comes to zombies.

This goes double for The Walking Dead. I used to love the comics, but they got boring. I used to love the series, but haven’t watched it much since season 3. The adventure game I love, but in general the franchise has gotten pretty boring. Then I saw this:

It’s the trailer for the new Fear the Walking Dead series. It’s a prequel and a “sister story” to the main series. Apparently it details what is to me the most exciting piece of any zombie story: the rise of the epidemic and the collapse of society. Interestingly, and probably because of budget constraints as well, few movies ever show this.

Night of the Living Dead stops before it happens. In Day of the Dead28 Days Later and many others it has already happened.

In Shaun of the Dead it’s flirted with hilariously throughout the film, but never happens:

Dawn of the Dead shows little snippets of it at the start of the film…

while its remake condenses it into one of the best sequences ever in zombie cinema:

At the very first post of this blog, I wrote the following:

I’ve always been fascinated (in a very sane, rational and normal sense) by catastrophes, what-if fantasies, tales of desperate struggle and the end of the world. The sinking of Titanic, alternative history, Helm’s deep, Alamo, Chernobyl,  The Book of Revelation, global epidemics, thermonuclear war…you name it. The zombie genre combines all of this. Simple as that.

This is exactly what Fear the Walking Dead appears to showcase. No wonder I’m pretty hyped.

Fear the Walking Dead launches August 23 on AMC with a 1½ hour special episode.

Advertisements
h1

The Walking Dead season 2 – a review

October 3, 2012

My relationship with The Walking Dead in its various forms is not an entirely easy one. When I first started reading the comic (from issue #1) it was pretty much the best thing I’d ever seen. Lately I haven’t read it – it started getting a little tedious as things kept going from bleak to bleaker to even bleaker to mega bleak and then some, and the series just kind of lost a lot of its effectiveness.

I was looking forward to the TV series a lot, and apart from the final episode of season one, I was pretty happy with how it turned out. When season two started, I was…well, if not as thrilled as about season one, still pretty interested. I started watching season two, and it was, in a word, boring. The season didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Around episode five I simply stopped watching. It was a huge disappointment.

My interest in the whole TWD franchise waned, until I ran into the amazing adventure game. All of a sudden I was interested in TWD again. This was further fueled by a friend of mine giving me a TWD book, Rise of the Governoras a birthday present.

Skip forward a month, to the day before yesterday. I’m on a work trip in Mikkeli, and find myself with a lot of spare time. I visit the nearest (“only”, I’m told) video rental store, and decide to give TWD’s season two a chance. After four paragraphs of rambling, the review begins!

I’m happy I gave the series a second look. As it turns out, after a sloooooow start the season starts picking up pace, and in my opinion ends up being as good as, if not even better, than the first one.

The season has plenty of elements that make it excellent. There’s a large, coherent arc that runs throughout the season. There is some great acting, with Jon Bernthal as Shane standing out especially. Some very heavy themes are dealt with, and there’s a fair amount of unexpected twists and turns to keep the viewer interested. There are character deaths, and these are not dealt with lightly, but are important events. The tone is kept pretty dark and sombre, but there are lighter moments as well. Also, the series doesn’t go down the comic’s route, heaping bad things on bad things and piling some more bad things on, which keeps it much more relatable.

The Walking Dead‘s group dynamics work fairly well. There are interesting schisms, which in turn are often dealt with realistically enough to keep the series believable. Some strange decisions are made, seemingly just to further the plot, but these are in the minority. All in all, TWD manages to put together a group of characters that alternatively both garner sympathy and irritate – much like real people. Even the worst of the bunch have some genuinely likable moments, which is a huge plus in my book. This is helped along by quality actors who do a very good job.

While I’m not much of a gore hound, I must remark on the awesomely disgusting stuff pulled off by the effects crew. This isn’t the kind of stuff you usually see on TV, apart from wildlife documentaries. The zombies in differente states of decay are also wonderfully done, and if you get your hands on the dvd box, I recommend checking out the extras.

Of course, it’s not all perfect. The series does use the whole “Carl disappears and appears inconveniently” over and over again. Note to the writers of The Walking Dead: if your repeating plot device is getting turned into a meme, you’re doing something wrong.

Also, as mentioned before, in the first five or so episodes, nothing much happens. This does pay off handsomely towards the end of the season though, as it allows for much more character development than the six episode season one.

Character development brings me to T-Dog. This character, despite having been with the series since approximately the beginning, hasn’t really received any screen time nor character development. Don’t believe me? io9 noted this too, in their article (with some spoilers) in March. I have absolutely no idea why this is, but it’s a glaring mistake and starts to get pretty funny and noticeable around episode 8 or 9.

Overall verdict: Despite a slow start, The Walking Dead season 2 builds up to some very nice zombie action and drama. While there are some weaker elements – “Where’s Carl?”, T-Dog and the slow start, basically – the whole manages to deliver, often exceeding season one. While I almost lost my faith, it seems TWD is back on track.

You can get The Walking Dead season 2 from any decent dvd retailer. Or a video rental store in Mikkeli, your call.

h1

The Walking Dead by Telltale Games – a review

July 17, 2012

The Walking Dead. I loved the comic up to a certain point. I somewhat like the tv series too, although to be honest I haven’t watched the second season completely. There’s plenty of potential in the franchise, but it seems some of it is being squandered. To my delight the new adventure game shows none of this.

The TWD adventure game by Telltale Games tells the story of Lee Everett, who’s on his way to prison when everything goes to hell. Lee’s story runs parallel to the comic book’s, and there are some cameos – at least Glenn makes an appearance in the first episode of the game.

Yes, episodes. Something of a trademark of Telltale Games, they tend to release their games in tv-series like episodes. Each episode provides 2-3 hours of gaming, and five or so episodes compose a season. I found the format enjoyable when playing the new Sam & Max, and it works equally well with  TWD. Why? I don’t always have a lot of time for gaming. Sure, I can stay up until the small hours, but that means shambling zombie-like into the office in the morning. The ability to play through an entire adventure game in pretty much the same time it takes to watch a film is simply excellent. The short length of individual episodes means a coherent story and zero filler material. Everything in the game furthers the story, enhances the characters or otherwise contributes to the whole.

The story? It’s naturally filled with the typical zombie genre tropes. Loyalties, conflicting interests, tough decisions, jump scares…it’s all there. Thankfully it’s executed with class. Telltale obviously has some talented writers, as the game just works. Having seen a fair few zombie movies and read a lot of zombie literature, I’ve definitely seen my share of bad writing, hollow characters and other similar annoyances. None of that here. The game is very much like the first graphic novels in that regard. There are some scary moments, some actually touching ones as well as humour thrown in. None of it breaks the atmosphere of the game. All in all it’s an immersive story, helped along by the game mechanics. Furthering this immersion is the fact that the game changes depending on your choices. A bit of dialogue just might be referenced two hours later and affect how a character treats you.

TWD works well and sounds and looks nice. The game runs smoothly on my several years old PC, and the cel shaded graphics really make for a great comic book look. See below for yourself, this is an actual in-game graphic.

Click for a larger version

The voice acting and dialogue is top notch. There is a lot of talking in this game, but it isn’t wearisome. In most dialogues you don’t have the option to go back, and there’s a time limit to pick your answer. Miss the limit, and your character just stands there silent. None of that traditional god-awfully boring tediousness of going through every single dialogue option to find the relevant info. Bioware, I’m looking at you. The dialogue mechanic actually sometimes leads to you blurting out the first thing that comes to mind and regretting it later, or staying silent since you don’t know what to say. I love it!

As a game, TWD is standard adventure fare. There are puzzles, picking up objects, clicking the right hotspots and the like. As it is a zombie game, there are some action sequences too. These are usually pretty simple stuff, and mechanics-wise tie in well with the rest of the game. These offer some really tense moments at times, and are used sparingly to keep them effective. The puzzles aren’t very difficult, and the game plays more like an interactive film than a hardcore adventure game. Some people might not like this, but I really enjoyed not having the story stop for hours because I couldn’t figure out some inconsistent problem.

Honestly, I can’t think of a lot of bad things to say about this game. To a genre fan, some of the tropes might seem too familiar or some of the plot turns too predictable. Then again, I’m a genre fan and didn’t mind at all. At the moment my biggest gripe is having to wait for the next episode to come out.

Overall verdictThe Walking Dead is a great adventure game, that plays pretty much like an interactive zombie movie. The story is compelling and the execution brilliant, so if you’re looking for a great zombie game experience, look no further!

The first two episodes of TWD are currently out, and the third one is coming in August. The game’s RRP is $24.99 which includes all five episodes. You can get the game from Telltale’s own site or Steam, where it’s currently (July 17th, 2012) on offer at -25%.

%d bloggers like this: