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Video Game Review: The Walking Dead — A New Frontier, Episode 3

April 5, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
Above the LawClementine rejoins Javi’s band of survivors in Above the Law.

Please note that since each episode of The Walking Dead — A New Frontier features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final four episodes. To read our thoughts on that, refer to our review of Ties That Bind Part I.

In post-apocalyptic fiction, you can only rely on survival tropes for so long. After that, it’s gotta be about interesting characters and strong world-building — rebuilding the world is much more interesting than surviving it.

The best part of The Walking Dead — A New Frontier, Episode 3: Above the Law is that most of it deals with the inner workings of the Richmond community. You get to see its leadership, rules, and outliers, both directly and then flipped on itself, and that makes for an interesting story.

Javi and the sudden return of his jerk brother David power the narrative here, and while David borders on caricature a lot of the time, it presents itself as much more engaging than the first two episodes of the season.

Clementine returns, too, and while she’s really only half of the episode — including a standalone flashback segment — her story is probably the most engaging. We haven’t decided if that’s because we as players have a longer history with her or if because her stakes are higher. Perhaps both.

While Above the Law’s story is markedly better than the start of this season, it sings the best when Clementine is in the picture. We just hope that the bubbling conflict here doesn’t play into the tropes we’ve seen in all forms of Walking Dead media (AKA “people are horrible and violent forever and ever and ever”).

The flipside to this improved narrative is a seeming lack of choice. If you’ve played Telltale games long enough, it’s usually easy to tell when your choice makes a lasting impact on the branching path and when the developers make it an illusion that just funnels you along.

In the case of Above the Law, it’s more of the latter, other than the cumulative “This character will remember that” notification — and even that didn’t even come up that much. The ongoing joke about Telltale games is that they’ve transformed from adventure games to pure conversation simulators, and that seems to be the case here.

OVERALL (4/5)

While light on consequence, a markedly improved story powers Above the Law to a level surpassing the season’s first two episodes. Telltale still hasn’t matched the quality of the first two seasons (or the recent Batman series), but at least these walkers have found their stride.

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Video Game Review: Everything

March 30, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
In Everything, control everything you see (and don’t see) in this image. The butterfly effect is the idea that small changes can effect big changes (also a terrible horror movie), and DoubleFine’s Everything is a game built around that idea. There’s no narrative or direction, but Everything does have scope — from the biggest of the [...]
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Video Game Review: Old Time Hockey

March 28, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
If you’re comparing the actual on-ice play to EA’s version, the controls may be the same, but the response time is strangely sloppy and slow. Shooting feels off and collision detection is inconsistent at best. Passing is what you’d expect, except your players are hardly ever in the right spot for a breakout or a one-timer.
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Video Game Review: Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection

December 12, 2016 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
The Ezio trilogy follows the pattern of most trilogies (original Star Wars, X-Men, etc.) where the first entry is great, the second is the best, and the third is middling. Each offers slight variations in gameplay mechanics, but the basic franchise thrust of parkour, melee, and random side quests remains the same throughout.
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Video Game Review: Dishonored 2

November 22, 2016 | by Mike Chen | Comments (0)
Simply put, Dishonored 2 has some of the most inventive level design we’ve ever seen in video games. Starting off with the opening scene and the initial choice of Emily or Corvo as your playable character, each level builds upon each other, at first feeling like Dishonored 1.5. Then, about a third of the way through the game, you hit the Clockwork Mansion and suddenly it begins to wow you.
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