TV News

Here you can find our TV News section which includes all the latest and related articles, trailers and reviews for television and more.

batwoman-ratings-flat-nfl
TV News

Batwoman Ratings Flat With No NFL

More bad news for Batwoman as the ratings and viewership were flat this past Sunday with no NFL games being played. Following last week’s episode which had the lowest amount of viewers in its two seasons, Batwoman Season 2 Episode 3 only managed around 700k viewers, which is at the low side of the number […]

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TV News

Sonic the Hedgehog Animated Series Coming To Netflix

Netflix, SEGA of America, Inc. (“SEGA”), and WildBrain announce a new animated Sonic the Hedgehog series, Sonic Prime, set to premiere worldwide in 2022. The 24-episode animated adventure for kids, families, and long-time fans draws upon the keystones of the brand and features the “Blue Blur” of video game fame in a high-octane adventure where

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Marvel TV News

Black Panther Spinoff In The Works

A Black Panther spinoff is in the works at Marvel for Disney Plus involving Ryan Coogler. The series will be a drama based in the Kingdom of Wakanda. The announcement, which comes at the start of Black History Month, comes with the news that Coogler has signed a five-year television deal with Disney. “Ryan Coogler

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TV News

Jared Padalecki’s ‘Walker’ Skyrockets In Ratings For The CW

The new Jared Padelecki Walker series has skyrocketed in ratings for The CW network and is a smash hit. The show is a reimaging of the Chuck Norris series, Walker: Texas Ranger, and has found an audience unlike a lot of the other shows on The CW. The CW released official information noting Walker is

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Marvel TV News

WandaVision Footage, Spoilers Leak Online

Massive, massive WandaVision spoilers have leaked online as footage from the next two episodes has hit social media. Apparently, the next two episodes of WandaVision have been leaked online and it is actually claimed Disney will be taking legal action against the individual, with it also said that due to the leak, this Friday may

batwoman-season-2-lowest-viewers
TV News

Batwoman Season 2 Has Lowest Viewers Ever

Things continue on the decline for The CW’s Batwoman show as Season 2 now has the lowest amount of viewers for an episode to date. Following the Batwoman Season 2 premiere dropping 80%, now episode two sheds another 40k viewers, as a series low of 620k viewers only tuned in this past Sunday. The previous

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TV News

Kong, Tomb Raider Anime Series Announced For Netflix

Netflix and Legendary Television announce two new anime series, the first based on Legendary’s Skull Island and the second on Square Enix’s Tomb Raider global franchise. Netflix and Legendary Television are also currently in production on the previously announced anime series Pacific Rim: The Black. Skull Island anime The Skull Island anime series is described

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TV News

Henry Cavill Rehabbing Injured Leg

Henry Cavill continues to rehab his injured leg which follows an accident that took place while filming The Witcher Season 2 for Netflix. The Geralt of Rivia actor took to social media to reveal his routine involved with rehabbing his hamstring injury. “Monday to Friday I’m up at 0430 to get a few hours rehab in

harry-potter-tv-series-hbo-max
TV News

Harry Potter HBO Max Series In The Works

It’s said a Harry Potter live-action TV series is in the works at HBO Max. Details are scarce but the info comes from THR that claims it is happening and that executives at HBO Max are engaged in meetings to find a writer and pitch for a Harry Potter TV series. It’s further said no

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TV News

Barbara Gordon Joins Titans Season 3

Barbara Gordon joins Titans Season 3 on HBO Max and will be played by Savannah Welch. Details include that Barbara Gordon will serve as the Gotham City Police Commissioner and that she used to be Batgirl until she was shot and paralyzed by the Joker, leaving her wheelchair-bound. The character description mentions Gordon has a

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TV News

Batwoman Season 2 Drops 80% In Ratings; Fails Completely

Batwoman Season 2 is not off to a good start and has failed completely as Javicia Leslie taking over has seen an 80% drop in viewers compared to the Ruby Rose first season.  Sunday night saw Batwoman Season 2 debut on The CW with a 0.1 rating, and only 663,000 viewers tuning in, while the Batwoman

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Marvel TV News

‘WandaVision’ Rotten Tomatoes: What The Negative Reviews Say

Friday saw the release of the first two episodes of Marvel’s WandaVision series on Disney Plus with reviewers liking what they see so far. With 127 reviews accounted for, WandaVision presently has a Rotten Tomatoes critics score of 97%. The Audience Score is a bit lower as it comes in at 84% with 920 user

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Marvel TV News

Ethan Hawke Joins ‘Moon Knight’

Ethan Hawke joins the cast of Marvel’s Moon Knight series that is coming to Disney Plus. Hawke, known for Training Day and The Purge, joins the MCU in an unspecified role but is said to be playing the main villain of the series. Potential villains for Moon Knight that Ethan Hawke could be playing include Black Spectre, Jake

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Marvel TV News

Captain America Costume Leaks For ‘Falcon Winter Soldier’

Thanks to merchandise, we get a look at the new Captain America costume that will be used by Anthony Mackie in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series by Marvel on Disney Plus. A user on Twitter posted a pair of images which includes art featuring Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson sporting the Captain America

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TV News

Batwoman Season 2: Black Mask Will Be A Villain

It’s learned that the Batman villain Black Mask will be a villain of Batwoman Season 2. Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries confirmed the use of the villain, which will act as a second villain used in the series. “We have a couple big bads this season,” Dries told EW. “One, [who] we teed up midway through

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TV News

Green Arrow Spinoff Canceled At The CW

The planned Arrow spinoff, Green Arrow and The Canaries, has been canceled at The CW and will not be moving forward as a series. Deadline reports the news noting The CW is officially not moving forward which follows the main Arrow series featuring an episode of Green Arrow and The Canaries that was meant to

wandavision-reactions
Marvel TV News

‘WandaVision’ Reactions Are In

The first reactions for Marvel’s WandaVision are in as Disney allowed three episodes to be screened for the press. Per the norm, the reactions are all positive, so let’s hope the trend continues when the series is officially released on Jan. 15 on Disney Plus. While I haven’t seen the show yet myself, we had

henry-cavill-confirms-hamstring-injury
TV News

Henry Cavill Confirms Hamstring Injury

Henry Cavill confirms that he injured his hamstring while filming The Witcher Season 2 for Netflix in the UK. “We are in lockdown here [in] the UK so I’m using my once a day outdoor exercise to go for my first jog since my hamstring injury! (More on that another time),” posted Henry on Instagram

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Marvel TV News

WandaVision Gets PG Rating On Disney Plus

It’s learned that Marvel’s debut series on Disney Plus, WandaVision, will be rated PG, which marks the first MCU property to not have a PG-13 rating. According to the MPAA rating system used for movies, the PG rating is given for: “Parental Guidance Suggested — Some material may not be suitable for children.” The PG-13

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Movie News TV News

Amber Heard ‘Aquaman’ Mera Spinoff Rumored

It’s claimed that Amber Heard is getting her own HBO Max series for Mera which will spin-off from the Aquaman movies. YouTuber Grace Randolph claims the rumor is true and says the Mera HBO Max series will mostly take place on land. Randolph previously said that Amber Heard’s role in Aquaman 2 will be drastically

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TV News

Jodie Whittaker Quits Doctor Who

Say goodbye to Jodie Whittaker who is reported to have quit Doctor Who and will leave following Season 13. According to the UK’s Mirror, Jodie Whittaker is keen to take on other roles and will be leaving following her third season, much like Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. “It’s all very hush-hush but it is

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TV News Star Wars

‘Ahsoka’ Erasing Star Wars Disney Movies

It’s claimed that the Rosario Dawson newly announced Ahsoka series will be used to erase the Disney Star Wars movies. The rumor comes from the Overlord DVD YouTube channel via Doomcock, “the future ruler of Earth,” who previously said Disney would be erasing its failed Star Wars film franchise through the Veil of The Force.

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TV News

Jason Momoa Reunites With Gal Gadot While Promoting ‘See’

Aquaman star Jason Momoa reunites with Wonder actress Gal Gadot while promoting his new Apple TV Plus series, See. “It’s been an amazing 48hrs. Apple SEE press tour. It’s been whirlwind seeing friends and ohana Aloha j.” Momoa posted on Instagram Thursday. Gal Gadot commented with a “heart” emoji.  In addition to Gal Gadot, Jason

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TV News

10 Facts Why Lori Is Still Alive In The Walking Dead TV Show (AMC)

One Bloated Zombie, Does Not A Body Make!

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

 

Three graves have been dug on the outskirts of the prison walls, but only one contains an actual corpse. The others remain bare, filled more with the grieving tears of the survivors than with the decomposing flesh of the dead. The crosses above them are etched with the names of those that cannot be found, but is it premature to give such finality to just the mere thought of death? Some think so!

In one of the most controversial seasons yet, Season 3 of Robert Kirkman’s opus to the undead, shows the band of survivors split into groups while being pursued by Walkers. Things happen, horrible things that leave at least on of the group dead, one in labor and one missing. The most memorable, yet tragic, scenes plays out as Carl has to seemingly shoot his mother after she gives birth to his sister so she will not become a Walker. It is unnerving to watch but also completely captivating and shocking! That is, until Episode 5 begins to shine new light to that particular scene! As much as we will all miss T-Dog, it is the legitimacy of Lori and Carol’s deaths that are in question!

As I spoke with my intern, DRox, quite feverishly about Episodes 4 and 5, we began to think that maybe – just maybe – everyone’s favorite candidate for mother of the year did NOT die after giving birth to little baby “Ass Kicker!”

Here are some facts and speculations for you to ponder:

FACT: T-Dog saves Carol by tackling two attacking zombies and pays the ultimate price for his heroism.

FACT: Rick and the “Hit-Squad” find T-Dog’s corpse in a hallway along with Carol’s head wrap. They NEVER find another trace of Carol, nor look to find her, just assume she is dead!

FACT: Lori goes into labor and Maggie must perform an emergency C-section on her in order to save the baby. Carl stays behind as Maggie takes the newborn to find the others. As she approaches the group in the courtyard, a single gunshot rings out. Carl emerges from the prison and Rick breaks down.

FACT: Rick goes all “Here’s Johnny” with an axe and destroys any Walker that stands between him and his discovery of Lori’s body.

FACT: Rick finds a bloated Walker with, what Greg Nicotero told The Talking Dead, “were strands of Lori’s hair by his mouth,” shoots it and proceeds to stab its belly numerous times. NO BODY PARTS ARE PULLED OUT OF ITS STOMACH!

FACT: In Episode 2, Carol kills a female Walker in order to perform a practice C-section on it because Hershell may not be able to deliver Lori’s baby!

FACT: When Rick discovers the room where Lori went into labor, he also discovers a bullet fragment on the floor. There is NO BLOOD surrounding the area where the bullet was pulled from!

FACT: There are no bones, nor anything else, from Lori found where she went into labor! T-Dog was attacked by TWO Walkers and his body was still found! Yes, he was larger than Lori, but her entire body – bones and all – fit into a Walker’s belly?!

FACT: We know that Carol’s knife is found By Daryl in the upcoming Episode 6!

FACT: We know there is a well stocked Infirmary and it is close to cell block C from Carl’s comments in Episode 2!

This is what we believe MAY have occurred:  Carl, as bad-ass as he has become in Season 3, still does not have the heart to shoot his own mother in the face. He shoots wide and leaves Lori, who has passed out due to the pain and blood loss, to “rest in peace.” Carol, who is still running through the prison, stumbles upon Lori just as a Walker is approaching her. She fends off the Walker, stabbing it between the shoulder blades and knocking it into the wall. She then grabs a semi-conscious Lori and escapes the room. With Lori as “dead” weight, Carol cannot keep up the pace for long. Panicked, she scours the hallways for a room she had seen before – the Infirmary! Though not “professionally’ trained, Carol does her best to patch-up Lori to the best of her abilities as she hears a gunshot ring out from the room she saved Lori from. Help could be on the way.

Though these ideas are pure speculation, given the facts above, nothing adds up to either Carol or Lori definitively being dead. There is enough wiggle room there to imagine numerous possibilities rather than the one given to us. But, if I’m right, and Lori is not “dead,” there are even more ideas that can be brought into this amazing season! Who knows, maybe the next time we see Lori she could look like this (below)!

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC.

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Comic Book News TV News

Advanced Review: The Walking Dead: The Official Magazine

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What better way to keep yourself up to date with all things The Walking Dead than with — The Walking Dead: The Official Magazine!

Hitting newsstands October 23rd, this 100 page behemoth, from Titan Magazines and Skybound, is bloated with more tasty tidbits than a “Well Walker!” From the forward, by the creator of it all, Robert Kirkman, to the “Secret Diary of a Walker” article, no page is wasted to fully immerse you in every nook and cranny of Kirkman’s award winning world!

From cover to cover, every nuance is touched upon. There are in depth interviews with Robert Kirkman, Danai Gurira (Michonne), Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick, artist extraordinaire Charlie Adlard and AMC’s The Walking Dead‘s executive producer Glen Mazzara.

For me, the Danai Gurira interview was something rare, giving an inside look at an extremely strong woman that portrays one of the biggest badasses on television. After reading the interview, there is no other woman that could possibly portray such a character as Michonne than Danai Gurira!

Fans of the show do need to be wary though, story spoilers abound in this issue as the entire comic book series is laid before you in the article, “The Story So Far.” Covering all major aspects of issues 1-100, there is a potential to learn things about Michonne and the Governor that may occur in Season 3! Even though the headlines blatantly state, “Spoilers Alert,” you know you will read on anyway — you just can’t help yourself!

You will see all thirteen covers to the horrifically amazing The Walking Dead #100, a preview of Todd McFarlane Toys second series of figures, an in depth look at the zombie zaniness at Comic-Con and a bevy of on location photos and articles from the set of The Walking Dead television series. You will gaze at previews of Telltale Games The Walking Dead episodic video game and even get a cool pic of the official The Walking Dead Plug ‘N Play game! Who doesn’t love that!

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As amazing as all that sounds, it is the impressive articles that truly make the magazine shine. From the quirky, “The Secret Diary of a Walker” to “Choice Cuts,” – a look at the best and worst moments of different characters – there is no end to the range of quality to this magazine! My personal favorite is “Anatomy of a Story,” a dissection of a different story arc from the comic series. Each issue will take a deeper look into the creation of a tale and the evolution of the characters therein. It is something unique, catapulting this magazine above all others in its genre.

Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – from everyone’s favorite zombie universe is featured in some way in this debut issue! Fans of the comic series, the television series, toys, video games and novels will be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of information bestowed upon you. Not an inch of this issue is wasted! It is 100 pages of pure The Walking Dead excitement from cover to cover! I am overwhelmingly impressed by both the quality and the overall execution of the entire issue!

So, if you need something to sink your teeth into until Sunday night, get to your closest magazine outlet and pick up the most outstanding premiere issue I have ever read! The Walking Dead: The Official Magazine — on stands now!

“This magazine will be your one stop destination for all the news pertaining to the comic, TV show, video game, toys, games, and whatever else exists in the ever-expanding Walking Dead universe! If it’s happening, you’ll find out all about it right here!” – Robert Kirkman.

“The Walking Dead Official Magazine” goes on sale October 23rd in the U.S., November 8th in the U.K. and December 18th in Australia and New Zealand. Digital editions will be available globally on the iPad, Nook and Kindle Fire from October 23rd.

Subscription Offer:
The magazine is currently offering fans an exclusive FREE The Walking Dead T-Shirt (not available in stores) with new print subscriptions. For more information on this subscription offer and other offers in your territory, visit the magazine website:
www.TitanMagazines.com/WalkingDead

Social Networking:
Readers can join the magazine on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with news and special offers:
www.Twitter.com/WalkingDeadMag
www.Facebook.com/WalkingDeadMagazine

    

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Reviews TV News Video Game News

The Walking Dead Episode 2 Starved for Help: Video Game Review

When the Dead Walk, It’s the Living You Should Fear

A Video Game Review for The Walking Dead Game: Episode 2 ‘Starved for Help’

By: Lawrence Napoli 

 

As much as I enjoyed episode 1 of this digital game series, there is no question that the second installment dials up the creepy, grotesque and confrontation elements of people surviving the zombie apocalypse by a factor of 10.  “Amazing,” is the one word I’d use to describe Starved for Help, but I am beginning to notice some unfortunate commonalities this game shares with others that claim “your choice really matters.”  More like, “the illusion of your choice might matter” which is proven by the player’s inability to alter the outcome of major plot points as a result of choosing a different path. 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2086:]]Before I get into the goodies of episode 2, I must share with you all more complaints over the unprofessional manner in which TellTale Games is distributing this current project of theirs.  For those not in the know, the first episode of this game was released back on April 24th with the promise of new episodes to be released monthly.  When it took just over two months for episode 2’s premier (it was released yesterday) the internet was set ablaze via gamer anger and resentment over a basic expectation that saw zero follow through from the developer.  Fast forwarding to yesterday, after much anticipation and frustration, episode 2 was finally available to be downloaded off the Playstation Network.  I downloaded the file, installed it and loaded up one of my saves to continue my adventure with Lee Everett.  But then the game stopped the loading process and exited out to the PS3’s main menu as if I had quite the game, ALL BY ITSELF.  I’ve owned the PS3 since day 1 of its release and this is behavior I’ve never witnessed out of the machine despite having suffered through the infamous PSN (hack-induced) outage in addition to the YLOD (Yellow Light Of Death) on my original ‘fatty’ 60 gig system.  

Perplexed, I figured to reattempt the download and reinstall the software because that’s everyone’s go-to trouble shooting technique for all technology.  No luck.  After my third attempt I would easily describe my negatively charged energy as (to quote Vincent Vega) “a racecar in the red!”  So I jumped on the phone (who uses those anymore?) to contact customer service for PSN [1-800-345-SONY] and I sought to track down some answers.  I don’t know if I was just extremely lucky, or if Sony simply knows how to properly employ their customer service phone lines, but 2 out of the 2 times I had to speak with a human representative, I got American sounding people for which communication was seamless.  Their first suggestion was to go under the system settings option in the PS3 menu to disable the connection to the media servers which may have corrupted the file during download.  That didn’t work.  They then suggested deleting the entire game from the hard drive and re-downloading all relevant game files (that would be the demo, episode 1 and episode 2).  Bingo!  So for any of you out there still struggling with this game, the answer is purging and don’t worry, your save files will not be affected. 

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I don’t remember the Bates Motel having this many technical difficulties.

The point of this lengthy intro is to communicate how TellTale has mismanaged this game thus far, despite having produced a gem of a game.  The problem was definitely on their end because when I purged and restored, the network prompted me to download an update patch which did not happen for the episode 2 file by itself.  Perhaps it is a problem for everyone having purchased the season pass for $19.99, but if I have to repeat this procedure for every future episode, I will be extremely disappointed.  I’m thinking that this is the first IP developed by TellTale that consumers have been completely ravenous over so perhaps they are not used to this level of demand.  This leads to management acting more like nervous fools pressuring programmers for faster results yielding a less than ideal product.  This speculation has not been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, but simply getting this game into the hands of gamers has been shaky at best. 

Story

As for the game, it certainly does not waste any time throwing the player back into “the sh*t.”  After a brief cut scene reviewing the player’s key decisions from episode 1, Lee Everett’s gotta get his hands dirty immediately and often for the duration of Starved for Help.  Although the first episode eluded to the perceived danger of other survivors, this is the prevalent issue for the entirety of episode 2.  Finally, the player is getting knee deep into the unique harshness of Robert Kirkman’s zombie apocalypse and the new rules are as follows: 1) zombies are a constant threat, but never the immediate one, 2) bites don’t turn people and 3) developing trust requires more than just trading favors.  Knowing this, I was very hesitant about all of the new characters I was introduced to despite their well mannered demeanors and helpful attitudes.  My Lee Everett already has plenty of issues with people he already knows that are somewhat gunning for him within the group.  Additional wildcards will only complicate things.  Some of these concerns were justified while others were misplaced.  Trust is in short supply at this point in the story, but desperation (particularly the need for edible food) tends to force people’s hands.  

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This doesn’t look threatening in any way, shape or form.

Characters inside the player’s initial group have a little more exposition as well as bonding or conflicting moments with Lee which does much to raise the stakes for any danger the player runs into, of which there will be plenty.  I like that there’s a lot more action involved in this episode whether its combat or running from trouble, but the overall pace of this episode remains as methodical as the first, so don’t expect a drastic change.  The one change that seemed undeniable was the darker tone combined with the proximity of the children in Lee’s group to the increased level of horror.  

Gameplay and Functionality

There are no new challenges to the required coordination for gameplay in episode 2, but there are certainly new difficulties navigating this chapter that wasn’t nearly as much of an issue for episode 1.  Starved for Help is very glitchy or laggy which has Lee getting stuck on corners, taking indirect paths to speak with people and investigate environments as well as having several awkward delays between transition scenes.  As a result, this gives the episode a very choppy feel which does the player no favors considering snap reflexes are much more important to survive this time around.  Again, what the player is called to do (whether it’s button-mashing, targeting or movement) is not difficult in and of itself.  However, if the game lags, the player has lost precious tenths of a second that will determine the difference between victory and defeat.  This is an issue that may lead to some impromptu deaths, but is less of a deal-breaker and more of a growing concern for less than precise programming.  

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The real danger is that my feet are actually glued to these stairs.

I find it very interesting how this game continues to feature an inventory indication on the screen with no player ability to interact with that inventory as he or she sees fit.  Yes, some items are necessary to trigger the next scene, but not everything Lee’s possession accomplishes this.  What would make for more dynamic gameplay is for the player to be allowed to use different items in the inventory for situations that may not seem like it would be useful so as to present more options for reaching the goal.  For instance: [and this example doesn’t happen in the game, so no spoiler alert necessary] if Lee is held at gunpoint in a small, enclosed room and he only has a piece of rope and a pencil in his inventory, using one or the other combined with a convenient environmental distraction could set him free, or get him killed.  This game seems to be too reliant on whatever props are immediately available in the current scene to win, which dilutes any perceived importance the player may place on investigating every corner and examining every item leading up to designated “moments of truth.” 

Conclusion

Episode 2 Starved for Help is an excellent follow up to A New Day.  Unfortunately, with all the problematic logistics behind the production and distribution of this game, I am forced to debate whether the wait was actually worth it.  Don’t get me wrong.  The story is engrossing, the characters have depth and the ability to choose (illusion or otherwise) is still a compelling gameplay mechanic, but there’s an awful lot of time in between the release dates of these episodes.  I feel the impact of the story is being lessened by its fragmented presentation.  This interactive drama is just too good to be consumed piecemeal that I am now recommending interested gamers to save their money until every episode is available to play. 

And I do highly recommend everyone to (eventually) give this game a play through as these very unique, Kirkman-esque social commentaries really make me think.  Upon digesting everything I witnessed at the end of Starved for Help, it made me consider the concept of desperation in general.  Is it something human beings simply cop-out to so as to act on raw emotion or is it a natural and justifiable survival instinct?  The evolution of mankind suggests taking steps away from “the animal” to find new, innovative and previously unconsidered methods of problem solving; independent of the situation while pragmatic necessity rarely leaves people the time to weigh their options and consider alternatives.  

This is the allure of well written zombie fiction as it is not as immediate or decisive as war or natural disasters, but as an equally dangerous peril that needs to be circumvented in order to survive.  The manner in which an individual circumvents reveals a strength (or lack of) character which remains to be seen if such a thing matters when civilization ends.  This is what makes Robert Kirkman’s pristine exploration of humanity in The Walking Dead a journey into the proverbial heart of darkness not because evil, death and depravity are at the center, but because we are fearful for not being certain that we won’t succumb to them when put to the test.  Lee Everett certainly gets put to the test in Starved for Help.  What will you make him do?

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Reviews TV News Video Game News

Where is Episode 2 of The Walking Dead Videogame (PS3)? Telltale!

Where is Episode 2 of The Walking Dead Video Game?

(TBA)

By: Lawrence Napoli

The dog days of the summer months continue to roll on by with some fairly weak releases for video games (Doctor Who comes to mind!EIC Matt), but there was one title that I thought was going to do a great job keeping me occupied: Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead videogame.  I enjoyed Episode 1 immensely as I gave it quite a generous review.  I’ve proceeded to play through Episode 1 at least 6 different times to see how many different ways I can have Lee Everett survive while pissing off/making friends with as many or as few people as possible.  There are two reasons why I have done this: 1) Because it was quite enjoyable to have a few “screw up” runs to purposely run my character into the dirt and 2) BECAUSE EPISODE 2 STILL HASN’T BEEN RELEASED YET TO PROGRESS IN THE GAME!

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(Take THAT Telltale Games!)

The three most hated letters that gamers ever want to see or hear are “TBA” or “To Be Announced” in regards to release date information.  In many ways, it’s worse than a game that you’ve seen teaser trailers and maybe even game play for, but clearly no promises have been made for release info because that project is nowhere close to being finished.  “TBA” after a stated date is the biggest and most unsatisfying tease when attached to games because what it really does is get consumers to cough up dollars when the developers don’t have to produce jack.  Release date information used to be solid gold, and if things transpired that caused that time to be altered in any way, the fallout, embarrassment and consumer backlash had much harsher consequences to the violators of that trust.  Today, blowing off release dates is the norm (for movies too, see G.I. Joe 2) and developers couldn’t care less for consumers that prepay in advance for reserved copies that we will eventually see in our hands sometime “TBA.”

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2010:]]Telltale Games released Episode 1 of The Walking Dead on April 24th of this year, and according to the season pass as designated on the Playstation Network ($19.99 for all 5 episodes), episodes will be released “monthly.”  Today is June 13th and not only has Episode 2 NOT been released, but there has been ZIP from Telltale about not following through with their previously stated information let alone an actual date that we can count on.  Type in “Where is Episode 2: Starved For Help” and “Walking Dead” into any search engine and all you get is a litany of websites with previews and promises for reviews once it gets released, and a whole lot of forums with irate people sounding off on Telltale for being dishonest and not having any consideration for their customers.  Although I didn’t participate in the forums’ curb-stomping sessions, I am one of the suckers that forked over money in advance for a fraction of a game and so I too, am righteously ticked off.

Here are the facts:  #1: PSN clearly states “monthly” in regards to episode release timing.  The legalize of the term “monthly” is non-specific enough to avoid being liable for any lawsuits that may be hatching in some gamer’s head who also happens to be an attorney.  But it also gives potential customers what would be considered a fair and simple expectation for content.  Is this the perfect lure for consumers with zero risk for developers?  Think about it.  If the trend in the gaming industry is headed for the digital distribution of episodic content, how can the consumer trust developers to actually release the content when delays are inevitable (and in some cases indefinite; thank you Blizzard)?  What if we take that scenario a step further and, for some reason or another, the developer goes out of business before even finishing the game?  Can we rely on angel investors to swoop in and hire new programmers to finish the job?  Accountability is the name of the game; so if Borderlands 2 gets pushed back to 2014, everyone can head back to GameStop and get their money back, but not so for digital transactions.  The pre-order and pre-purchase business is just like insurance.  Customers give you money and you hand back absolutely nothing other than a promise for some return, sometime in the future.  What good is a transaction like this if the other party has a track record for breaking promises?

Fact #2: Despite the general sense of anger over Telltale’s shenanigans, they have made a lot of money off of just this first episode.  As of May 17th, 1 million episodes have been sold, and at $5 a piece per episode, this seems like a decent score thus far.  I’d like to know how many season passes Telltale has sold because it quadruples their profit for the same amount of content currently available. 

Fact #3: A lack of information by Telltale led to speculative misinformation on various websites, further fueling the fire of disharmony.  Throughout this whole process, the one website a reasonable person would think would get you definitive answers as to the progress of the game would be telltalegames.com.  WRONG!  The whole website is little more than a well presented commercial for how awesome every Telltale project is as well as plenty of support for making purchases.  The last information update concerning The Walking Dead game was posted on the 22nd of May.  This lack of support from the developer led to a few people taking to YouTube, so as to make some calculated guesses as to when the next episode would get released.  Perhaps the worst speculation was from playstationlifestyle.net which clearly indicated Episode 2 would release on the PSN (dated May 29th, 2012).  The only useful information I was able to track down was from Telltale’s Walking Dead: The Game Facebook page which states that the reps from the company recently got back from E3 and they are ready to submit to Sony and Microsoft — and “if everything goes well, episode 2 will be available before the end of the month.”  THE[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2012:]] END OF THE MONTH?!?  In the interest of keeping this article rated PG-13, I’ll refrain from the expletives that ought to accompany such gall.

I don’t like how Telltale Games is running their business.  Normally I’d call for all interested parties to flood their website with complaints, but there is no link to reach them.  If anyone out there knows a web based means of letting this company know first-hand at how disappointed its own customers are, let us know because this just isn’t right.  All of this negativity could have been avoided if Telltale was simply honest from the beginning.  I’m looking for statements like: “Episodes to be released periodically,” “Game is in progressive development,” “An incomplete game still undergoing refinement,” “We took a time-out so we could parade content that everybody and their mother already knows about at E3.”  Of course, such honesty also would have avoided the most important thing: all of Telltale’s filthy profits! 

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Video Game Review of The Walking Dead game [Episode 1]

When the Dead Can’t Stop Walking

A Video Game Review of The Walking Dead [Episode 1 “A New Day”]

By: Lawrence Napoli

 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1756:]]I am drawn to anything that involves zombies.  Zombie stories entice such an adrenaline rush because of the intense amount of thought it provokes within me considering that such a fantastic scenario is merely one fictional circumstance away from becoming reality.  How would I respond?  How would I cope?  How would the rest of the world?  How would you?  When the world literally goes to hell most people probably wouldn’t don some makeshift superhero costume and become impromptu vigilantes to wipe out the zombie threat from the streets.  Most people would track down as much family as possible, find the safest place available to hunker down in and wait it out, until waiting just wasn’t safe anymore.  The realism, drama and raw emotion that is extracted from plain people surviving the end of the world has a universal appeal to humanity because (to a much lesser, dramatic and danger-filled extent) we are all surviving the challenge of life every day when we wake up.  This explains why Robert Kirkman and The Walking Dead franchise continues to reach new outlets for its brand and finding plenty of success (and dollar bills) in every iteration.  I won’t extrapolate on the intrigue of the comic book or the intensity of the TV series, but suffice it to say, the video game world of The Walking Dead carries over everything that makes it work from its previous manifestations while keeping the experience fresh even for the most dedicated veterans of the franchise.

 

Gameplay

 

The Walking Dead videogame is an interactive drama that was developed and published by Telltale Games.  This is the company that was also responsible for creating Back to the Future: The Game, Jurassic Park: The Game and Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse (the game).  All of these games are presented in episodic fashion and employ a very similar visual interface in addition to game play mechanics.  This is exactly the type of game that anyone can pick up and play because it doesn’t require pinpoint reflexes nor does it demand rigorous repetition to master.  If you can navigate an analog stick, you too can complete this game with relative ease (as is reflected in its trophy/achievement list – all of which are accomplished by completing each chapter).  The interface involves a third person, cel-shaded, fixed camera that harkens back to Resident Evils 1, 2 and 3.  The challenge to progressing in the story is investigating each scene for objects you can interact with in the environment or by speaking to other characters to reveal that vital piece of information that unlocks options for surviving the zombie apocalypse.  Anyone who is a veteran of Myst and is a fan of Mass Effect 2’s (not 3’s) dialogue system will find The Walking Dead very comfortable. 

If poking around static environments and flirting with digital people is not what you consider to be “entertaining” in a game, then rest assured, there is a significant element of combat in the game because zombies just aren’t going to let you walk away from them.  The first episode of The Walking Dead requires the player’s avatar to dispatch several zombies in quite brutal fashion at point blank range, and doing so requires a very easy to maneuver targeting reticule combined with quick-time button mashing challenges to fend off the various undead opposition.  The gameplay is not nearly as challenging as Heavy Rain, but it is still active enough to not bore the player.

This game’s main source of fun is generated from simply participating in this expanded fiction set within the world of The Walking Dead.  As such, talking is a large part of progressing in the story.  The dialogue sequences blend seamlessly with the cut and action scenes which does much to aid in the suspension of disbelief.  Choosing a speaking option, however, is not always as easy as leisurely pressing a button.  Some contextual conversations have very brief windows for the player to make a decision before the option to respond in any way passes all together.  Likewise, there will be similar decisions the player must make in emergency situations that can determine life and death for you or any other survivors you pick up along your journey.  If the player is actively engaged in the story, making the decisions you really want with little to no time is a breeze.  Also, the relationships you build with certain characters are not without consequence as key characters will remember how the player handled previous confrontations or details mentioned in prior conversations that may help or harm the player at a later point in the story.

 

Story

The story of The Walking Dead videogame is set the day of the zombie outbreak in the state of Georgia.  The player assumes the role of Lee Everett, a black man in his 30s-40s that begins his zombie survival journey under less than optimum circumstances.  What’s interesting to note in this “Choose your own adventure” style of video game story is that the player doesn’t know any back story about Lee until conversation windows later on during the game present these options for the kind of information Lee is willing to divulge.  Some players may be put off by this because they won’t know “the right response to give,” but that’s exactly the point.  Not knowing the details beforehand requires the player to mold the type of Lee, he or she wants him to be so if you want him to be a Rick-style knight in shining armor or a Shane-style psycho, the options are in your dialogue choices.  Heck, there’s even a neutral option to give no response in just about every scenario.  Overall, the story begins as very prototypical in presenting desperate people attempting to survive dire circumstances, but what has set The Walking Dead apart from other zombie franchises is its focus on character and relationships and that theme clearly carries over to the video game as Lee is not only the type of character I want to see survive and flourish, I believe he is a character that could easily matriculate over to the comic books or even AMC’s TV series.  One of the best parts of the story is the “ending” the player gets to see at the end of each episode which teases the player as to the scenarios that await him or her in the next episode.  Having played Lee in three distinct ways, I have found various different reveals at the end of episode 1 in terms of different sources of conflict, enemies within the group and who my most loyal friends may turn out to be.  The story looks to play out in several different ways, all of which are very compelling, and I’ve only completed 1/5 of the game.

 

Presentation

I know a lot of people who are instantly turned off by cel-shaded graphics in video games.  I will never claim to be the biggest fan of it either; however, I will note that this rather cartoonish style doesn’t take any of the gravity away from The Walking Dead game.  As a less demanding graphical style, cel-shading allows for more programming power to be put into proficient gameplay, dialogue options and environment interactions.  Besides, who’s really interested in sitting through hours of load screens?

The game asks the player in the beginning whether he or she wishes to play with or without hints which basically highlights items in the environment that can be interacted with as well as suggesting whom to speak to and where to go next.  Turning the help option off does present a greater challenge, but it may involve too much time investigating each and every scene for the player to acquire that which is necessary to progress. 

The voice over acting is superb.  Distinct sounds tied with naturally written conversation plays very well in establishing a serious and dramatic tone to this game.  Cel-shaded graphics don’t allow for the most revealing facial expressions, but combined with this VO talent, every character that the player is introduced to becomes one that he or she genuinely cares about. 

 

Conclusion

The Walking Dead fans have no excuse for not already owning this game for the PC or PS3.  It is not available for Xbox 360 yet (there’s a first) probably because Telltale is still working on a conversion code to allow the game to use Kinect control.  The story is great because I get to play a role in building a significant survivor in this zombie apocalypse.  The only bad part about this game is that I have to wait an additional month for the next part of the game to be playable and by the end of episode 1, believe me; you too will be demanding an expedient continuation.  Non-fans of the franchise or zombie stories in general may not find too much fun here because it doesn’t present enough generalized video-gaming enjoyment to be worthwhile otherwise.  Despite its cel-shaded look, this is not a game for kids as the gore factor is high, adult situations are plenty and characters can’t seem to hold back from dropping F-bombs left and right.  At $19.99 for the entire 5 episode package on the PSN network, I cannot recommend a better bang for your video gaming buck than The Walking Dead.