Review: The Walking Dead Season 2 (PS3)
At long last the entire second season of Telltales The Walking Dead is finally out, meaning I can finally talk about it. Although Lee’s adventure is now over, Clementine’s is just starting, and she’s in for a hell of a rude awakening. But will the second season be as good, or better, than the first?
Note: Season One Spoilers Ahead with a small spoiler for season two
After the events of the first season, we’re left with a massive cliffhanger where Clementine is practically fighting on her own. She unwillingly kills Lee in an attempt to stop him from becoming a zombie (walker), but what she doesn’t know, is that this action sets off a chain-reaction in her life. In this world she’s in, she has to grow up fast or die. After killing Lee, she’s forced to fend for herself for a time, but soon finds Omid and Christa and teams up with them. After travelling together for some time, the three of them stop for a break – plus Christa’s about to give birth to a baby. Unfortunately Clementine gets a little careless and as a result Omid is accidentally shot and killed. The game skips sometime into the future where you see Clementine suffering from immense guilt and a very emotional Christa (who also lost her baby). Once again the shit hits the fan and the two of them are separated (and you won’t see Christa again for the rest of the season – that I can assure you) leaving Clementine to face the world on her own. She soon finds herself with a new group of people, but not without a fair amount of difficulty and the events that transpire after meeting them will shock and amaze you. This poor girl will go through hell and back throughout the next five episodes. Looking back, Lee would never recognize the person she’s become.
The first season left quite an impression, so it was a tall order for season two. Not only did Telltales create a new story with new people and shocking moments, but they also allowed us to play a very unlikely hero. Clementine, although not even a teenager, is pivotal to saving and aiding the new group of people she encounters. During Lee’s tenure his status in the group was as a leader and a diplomat, someone who always had to take the lead or cast the deciding vote. She has a similar effect on the group, only this time, most of the problems the group encounters can only be solved by Clem. For example, only she can fit through the window to reach a door to safety, she’s the only one light enough to save someone on thin ice, etc. which gives her a lot of sway when it comes to decision making. The new people also see her as a neutral member, often relying on her to back to them up, of course you decide who you’d prefer to side with.
Just like before, the game is heavily reliant on the choices you make and the things you say to those around you. The dialogue in this game is just as great as it was in the first game, but unlike season one, there’s a great deal of fear and uncertainty among everyone. Some of the choices you make definitely influences what happens in the game, but sometimes you’re just delaying the inevitable. People die and even if you save them early on, they’ll die later into the season whether you like it or not.
The best part of this game is seeing how Clementine develops throughout the series. The relationship between her and Lee was beautiful to see, but now that he’s gone, we only have her. Gone are the days where you’ll think of her as the little girl in the tree house and enter the sharp pre-teen who shoots zombies, saves lives, risks her own and even sews up a massive gash on her arm with nothing but a needle, some alcohol and slightly dirty bandages. It’s remarkable to see such a significant change in a character who was, for the most part, very innocent. And she’s not the only one. You’ll see an entire cast of incredible characters who just add so much to the game – then there’s Sarah (facepalm)…
Pretty much everything you loved and hated about the first season makes a return with some slight improvements. The QTEs are a little bit more elaborate, but not by a mile. Clementine can carry more than one item, though she rarely needs more than one at a time anyway. There aren’t as many puzzles this time round, but there are many more nerve-wrecking incidents and there’s plenty of sneaking around to balance it out. The visuals haven’t changed at all, and if they have changed, it certainly isn’t very noticeable. The war of words is back and better than ever, and seeing how Clem reacts to a situation is quite interesting – she can go from innocent, to bitchy and downright conniving depending on how you shape her.
It’s not all sparkles and glitter though. Many of the issues I had are back. The glitchy cutscenes aren’t as frequent, but they’re there. The framerate drops quite a bit, especially in the later episodes it seems. All the characters do this weird eye-popping thing, like they’re shocked all the time – it’s small but very odd. Their movements are also very lifeless and doll-like, which is something Telltale really needs to look at in the next season. There’s a lot of loading screens and the game pauses every now and then to load, which breaks your momentum, but since the game is good I can let this one go. However, there is one issue that I just can’t let go of. While the voice acting is very good in general, Clementine’s is very bad. Considering that she’s the protagonist of the story, it pains me to hear her speak. The dialogue is great but the speech is terribly stilted. The female computer voice that tells me my train is cancelled sounds better than poor Clemmy. Another thing that was a bit disappointing was the integration of the 400 Day DLC. The only characters that plays an actual role in S2 are Bonnie and Tavia. The other characters make really minor cameo appearances in the game, and make no significant impact whatsoever.
Having said that, watching what unfolds over the five episodes (which you no longer have to wait for) is gut-wrenching. Each episode has at least one gasp scene and it’s usually something you won’t expect. There’s a fair amount of surprises for those who’ve played the first season, including the return of an former group member who was thought to be dead – I never liked this person in the first season so I was equally shocked and annoyed. Altogether you’re looking at a stellar second season that can stand on its own. It’s not as emotional as the first season, but it takes a deeper look into what it’s like to be a young girl fighting for her own survival. It doesn’t end with a shocker of a cliffhanger, but what does happen will nag on your mind until season three is released.