Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY 6:03 a.m. EST December 29, 2013
Fight for your life as the young Clementine in Season Two of "The Walking Dead" game series.(Photo: Telltale Inc.)
- 'Remains' is first in 5-part 'The Walking Dead' series
- Play as Clementine, an orphan trying to escape from zombies
- Available for Windows PC and Mac, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Apple iOS
After earning many "Game of the Year" nods in 2012, Telltale Games is back with The Walking Dead: Season Two, a five-part interactive adventure set in the world penned by Robert Kirkman's best-selling comic book (and popular television show) of the same name.
If the first downloadable episode, All That Remains, is any indication, this multiplatform game — for Windows PC and Mac, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Apple iOS devices — could repeat the first season's critical and commercial success.
Officially titled The Walking Dead: Season Two — A Telltale Games Series, the first episode begins with a summary of the first season. For the uninitiated, the story follows groups of people trying to survive a world crawling with flesh-eating "walkers" (think zombies) and deadly scavengers. You'll start the second season playing as Clementine, an orphaned girl now a couple of years older, wiser and stronger than when she was found at age 6 hiding in a treehouse at the start of last year's story. If you've played previous episodes, your save game file can be imported — so all the key decisions you made will carry over. While you won't be as emotionally invested in the story, it's OK if you haven't played any of the previous episodes; the game will randomly generate the choices for you leading into the second season.
Spoiler alert: A few minutes into All That Remains, "Clem" finds herself alone for the first time and must find a way to survive in the wilderness. Without giving much away, she soon encounters a small band of survivors, some of whom distrust her. Played from a third-person perspective, Clem will walk around her environment, talk with characters, collect items for her inventory and use them to solve puzzles. In one scene, Clem must find a needle, fishing wire, bandages and hydrogen peroxide to clean and stitch up a nasty wound on her forearm.
The puzzles could be a little more challenging, but are enjoyable nonetheless. Also, I wish you could walk where you want in the game — exploring a forest or cabin, say — instead of hitting an invisible wall.
Keep in mind, the game also has some action elements, where the player must follow on-screen prompts to perform actions ("quick time events"), such as pressing one of the four arrows quickly (in the PC version played for this review), rapidly tapping the Q key, and so on. Note: This game isn't a zombie shooter. It relies more on puzzle solving and dialogue decisions, but there are some "twitch" elements. If you die, you can repeat the sequence again.
As previously hinted, many of the player's actions and choices will affect how the story plays out across the entire series. Helping one character survive over another will significantly alter the story, for example. Or, someone will remember if you broke their trust. Because you can change how the story plays out, this makes The Walking Dead more unique, and engrossing, than most other video games.
A screenshot from "All That Remains"(Photo: Telltale Inc.)
Even though the game is presented in cartoon-like "cel-shaded" graphics, take heed of its "Mature" age rating. It is not recommended for players under 17 because of the game's intense violence, blood and gore, and strong profanity.
Each $5 episode takes about two hours to complete, and new episodes will be released every couple of months — finishing sometime in 2014, says Telltale Games.
All That Remains is a solid start to the second season of The Walking Dead: Season Two — A Telltale Games Series. Regardless of what platform you play it on, mature gamers who enjoy memorable characters and a strong story should enjoy these bite-sized episodic adventures.
The Walking Dead: Season Two – A Telltale Games Series: All That Remains
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC, Mac, Apple iOS
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Web site: telltalegames.com
Price: Season Pass (five episodes) for $24.99.
Score: 3.5 stars (out of 4)
Contact Saltzman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY 4:12 p.m. EST December 29, 2013
MOGA controllers(Photo: © 2013 Bensussen Deutsch and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.)
- MOGA controller works with iPhone games
- Gunnar Eyewear combats eye fatigue from computer, TV screens
- Blade gaming laptop comes with 14-inch display
Did you score a new console, computer or mobile device over the holidays?
Hundreds of hardware add-ons exist for each of the main video game consoles – including the new PlayStation 4 ($399) and Xbox One ($499) – as well as Windows PCs and mobile devices.
While these accessories don't all do the same thing, they're all designed to add some extra functionality to compliment the interactive entertainment experience.
The following are a few recommended picks to start the year off with a bang.
Available for Android and Apple iOS devices, MOGA products (short for "mobile gaming") let you use a console-like controller to play hundreds of compatible smartphone and tablet games. Simply secure your mobile device into the grip and take advantage of comfortable buttons, triggers, analog sticks and a d-pad. While a couple of Android-based MOGA controllers are available ($29.99 to $79.99), the new MOGA ACE POWER ($99.99; mogaanywhere.com) works with for iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, and latest iPod touch – via the Lightning connector – and also charges up the iOS device with its built-in 1800 mAh battery.
Gunnar Intercept Eyewear(Photo: © Gunnar Optiks, Inc.)
EYE FOR AN EYE
If you spend a lot of time gaming in front of a television or computer monitor, consider donning Gunnar Intercept Eyewear ($59.99; gunnars.com), a pair of gaming glasses engineered to help combat eye fatigue – often accelerated by screen glare and artificial light – while increasing contrast and clarity. The wide-format lenses also offer a panoramic view of your games for sharper visual efficiency – especially ideal in fast-paced, white-knuckle military shooters. Text is also crisper and thus easier to read without straining. Gunnars are available in five colors: Cobalt, Fire, Kryptonite, Ghost and Ink.
KontrolFreek controller(Photo: © Copyright 2013 KontrolFreek, LLC. All Rights Reserved)
Do your thumbs ever slip off your console controller's analog sticks, causing you to miss that important target in Call of Duty: Ghosts or Battlefield 4? KontrolFreek (from $9.99; kontrolfreek.com) snaps directly onto your controller's analog sticks for improved performance, accuracy and comfort. To ensure they fit snugly, simply choose your platform of choice – including support for the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – and what genre you prefer, including first-person shooter, sports, racing or casual arcade games. Along with adding some height to your analog sticks, KontrolFreek claims they increase range of motion by 40 percent and help add speed and precision.
While most game controllers are designed for your hands, Stinkyboard ($119.99; stinkyboard.com) is for your feet. Designed for first-person shooters, real-time strategy games and massively-multiplayer online (MMO) role-playing games, this Kickstarter-funded peripheral sits under your desk and lets you make quick in-game movements without having to take your hands off the keyboard and mouse. Bundled software lets you assign your own commands to each of the footboard's four buttons. The Stinkyboard is constructed of reinforced steel, aluminum and heavy plastics.
The Razer Blade laptop(Photo: Copyright © 2013 Razer Inc. All rights reserved.)
PC gamers itching for a portable gaming machine might opt for the Razer Blade (from $1,799; razerzone.com/blade). Nominated for "Best Hardware" by the Game Critics Awards at the E3 Expo in June, the Blade is the thinnest 14-inch gaming laptop available (at just 0.66-inches thick) yet it packs a ton of processing power thanks to its 4th-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M graphics processor and starting with 128GB of SSD storage (up to 512GB). Other features include a programmable backlit keyboard, many high-speed USB 3.0 ports and a sharp high-definition (1600 x 900 resolution) LED display.
While you can find gaming headsets for under $10, those who want — and can afford — a top-of-the-line model should consider Turtle Beach's Ear Force XP Seven ($279.95; turtlebeach.com), a premium headset with microphone for Xbox 360/One, PlayStation 3/4, PC and Mac, and mobile devices. As the official headset of Major League Gaming (MLG), the XP Seven features Dolby Surround Sound and a fully programmable digital signal processor (DSP) for clear, loud and well-balanced audio. If you're not in the mood to chat, you can remove the mic boom or change up the speaker plates for different look, if desired.
Contact Saltzman at email@example.com.