Sep 062012
 

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

The Walking Dead - Episode 3: Long Road Ahead

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Contains: Strong Language, Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.


Though it is a little late, the latest Episode in the so far fantastic Walking Dead series, Long Road Ahead, has finally arrived thanks to the tireless work of the folks over at Telltale Games. It’s been a little over two months since the last Walking Dead installment and since then, my hopes have begun to rise that maybe, just maybe Telltale would knock out some of the nagging issues that have been prevalent in the first two Walking Dead episodes. With this hope comes a big question, could they actually achieve that in such little time?

Similar to the second episode, Long Road Ahead starts off with a bang and quickly forces you to decide upon a perplexing situation within a certain amount of time. From there, however, the action slows down and instead leads you into more of a methodically paced section where you have to walk around your motel site and talk to everyone multiple times, attempting to come to come to the conclusion of multiple questions that arise within the first thirty minutes of the game. This serves as a nice little reintroduction to characters and helps you remember your actual stance on them, something that is very important in this game.

At this point, it should shock no one when I say that the narrative and story within episode three of the Walking Dead is absolutely fantastic, featuring heart breaking moment after heart breaking moment. Long Road Ahead is by far the saddest of the three episodes, I was forced to lose characters that had really molded themselves a special place in my heart. You also manage to gain some new ones along the way and with their intentions never being detailed; it leaves their character arch’s wide open.

One of the more surprising things in this package is that my play through lasted about three and a half hours. While it’s entirely possible that I was just really slow in finishing this episode, I found that to be a whole hour and a half longer than the previous episodes. This ultimately leads me to wonder if future episodes could last even longer, with perhaps a four to five hour long series finale. The chances of that happening are slim but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to hope.

The many positives from the previous games return in Long Road Ahead such as the innovative point and click controls, fantastic look, and incredibly talented voice cast. There are some truly awful things that happen throughout this episode and those events are perfectly crafted into depressing speech performances by the characters. By the time the end of the episode rolls around, hearing any kind of positive or happy vibe from someone talking is almost impossible and only occasionally peeps out to put a smile on your face.

Without a doubt my biggest question mark coming into this episode was if there was any chance Telltale could fix the annoying framerate and screen tearing that was so damn prevalent in the previous episodes? The answer is mostly no, but that isn’t all bad. It seemed as if the framerate cleared up in certain spots, only dropping severely when a wide angle that featured tons of miscellaneous items appeared. Similar to my length assumption, I hope this can translate into future episodes and ultimate end with these technical issues being wiped out. For the time being, though, the framerate still takes a hit and cutscenes still randomly freeze while attempting to load the next scene. Both of which can really detract from the experience and momentum built up by the swelling story.

Both you and I know what we’re getting into when we buy these Walking Dead episodes, a ridiculously good experience filled with storytelling hooks and innovative design that is going to completely change the way point and click adventures work on consoles. That all being said, the technical issues are still prevalent and they’re something that cannot be forgiven; but the good thing is that even those small issues are beginning to deteriorate. Even when you do put aside the technical flaws, The Walking Dead is a masterpiece of a series and Long Road Ahead only builds upon that.

XBox 360

Graphics

85
 

Audio

90
 

Gameplay

95

Creativity

95
 

Execution

90
 

Offset

90
    

9.1

  

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