Video Game News

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

Thor: Ragnarok Hulk Rampages Into Marvel Contest Of Champions
Marvel Video Game News

Hulk Joins Marvel Contest Of Champions

Thor: Ragnarok‘s Hulk joins Marvel’s Contest of Champions! Find the spotlight trailer and official info below. Only Hulk truly knows how he ended up on Sakaar, fighting in the arena. But once he entered the arena, he was immediately a crowd favorite! By using his unique blend of savage rage, showmanship, and unstoppable strength to […]

Batman: Enemy Within Episode 4 Release Date Announced
Video Game News

Batman Enemy Within Ep 4 Release Date

The official release date for the fourth episode of Batman: The Enemy Within, the ongoing five-part episodic game series that continues Telltale’s unique take on the World’s Greatest Detective becomes known. Episode four, ‘What Ails You,’ launches Tuesday, January 23 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, and mobile. When the Pact puts its plan

Movie News Reviews Video Game News

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Damnation

Forget “Retribution;” Damnation Shows Evil Going Global

A Film Review of Resident Evil: Damnation

By: Lawrence Napoli


We are DAYS away from the release of my most anticipated videogame of 2012 in Resident Evil 6 and Capcom saw fit to release its most recent CG film a week prior in an effort to prime American fans for the kind of story, action and thrills that will be awaiting us all on October 2nd.  What better way to do this than by giving the fans a prequel (of sorts) that bridges the gap between Resident Evils 5 and 6 without making any actual reference to either?  This may sound a tad curious, but I attribute that to Japanese sensitivities to the concept of plot which I will explain later.  This original film produced by the coalition of Capcom, Digital Frontier and Sony Pictures Entertainment joins its brother (Resident Evil: Degeneration) as the only two films to be part of the official Resident Evil cannon and unlike its predecessor, Damnation delivers a high fidelity experience that is sharp on looks and intense on action.

By the start of Resident Evil 5, the concept of international bio-terrorism is in full swing because the Umbrella Corporation allegedly goes bankrupt and in the process, all of its viral research and development hits the global black market.  Anyone with a WIFI connection and a few million bucks could become a bio-terrorist overnight.  Damnation further explores the investigation of B.O.W. (bio-organic weapon) sightings in an Eastern European (ex-Soviet Block) country with fan favorite Leon S. Kennedy taking the lead.  Leon arrives in this country with a very obscure status as he doesn’t represent the CIA, Secret Service or BSAA in any capacity.  The only thing the viewer knows for sure is that Leon is still some sort of US government agent as Ingrid Hunnigan (from Resident Evil 4) continues to relay intelligence to Leon via his cell phone.  Leon is in full tactical gear as the country is in the midst of a civil war and the action simply shoots through the roof once he starts jogging to his next destination.

The overall story of Damnation is much more concise than any of the games because it strictly gravitates around the plot of this one setting and main character.  However, the typical mood of conspiracy and betrayal is as consistent as any other chapter in the Resident Evil saga.  As this franchise continues to move slightly away from “horror” to feature more “action;” Damnation is yet another perfect (or terrible, depending on your point of view) example of this strategy.  The director, Makoto Kamiya wanted the events of this film to depict Leon S. Kennedy as he “descends into hell” which would seem to evoke more “horror” elements to this story.  Sure, Leon gets disarmed at some point and only has his bound fists to survive for a while, but the fact that this character IS Leon removes ANY semblance of threat because fans know he’s a mainstay of the franchise and he IS in Resident Evil 6 as a primary character.  There is virtually no element of horror to this CG film because there is no dedication to building suspense.  Doing so requires many more moments of silence to allow the audience an anticipation of fear which the bullet and explosion filled pages of this particular script are ill equipped to produce.  Oh well, I guess this just means Damnation must settle for being a really good action film with plenty of gory violence, gunplay and slow motion, close quarter combat. 

One other aspect of this story that demands singular recognition is the fact that the B.O.W.s being used throughout Damnation are within the framework of war.  As such, viewing classics like zombies, lickers, ganados, parasites and tyrants as alternatives to guns and grenades is a theme never before explored in Resident Evil.  What makes this exceptionally interesting is the unprecedented level of control that is demonstrated over these monsters in addition to the fact that they are used against each other on several occasions.  Ever find yourself cheering for the bad guy?  The player/audience has always seen these things as antagonists that need to be dispatched or avoided, but never as an option in combat scenarios.  It will be interesting to see if this concept is somehow applied to any gameplay mechanic in Resident Evil 6, so if it is – remember, you heard the prediction here first!   

Resident Evil has always been a character driven drama so I was expecting to learn a little more about Leon S. Kennedy, the man, during yet another one man mission against the undead.  After the events of Resident Evil 2 very little has been revealed about this man other than his continued involvement from a distance during the plots of every game and his hush-hush government training post Raccoon City.  Unfortunately, Damnation is not very forthcoming about any new details concerning Leon; maintaining his status as an ultimate bad ass with unwavering ethical integrity.  Ho hum.   

Whenever Leon is involved, it seems Ada Wong is not far to follow as she (yet again) appears to be infiltrating this particular dangerous environment as a spy working for “someone else” (not named Albert Wesker because he’s dead, at least I think).  If you have been living under a rock and have not seen any of the Resident Evil 6 trailers, Ada appears to be set up as the big bad in the upcoming game, thus working for herself all this time.  That certainly jives with her character type, yet Damnation is clear about establishing an unidentified employer backing Wong’s infiltration.  She’s still a sexy femme fatale and (you guessed it) very little else is revealed other than the fact that a more intimate relationship between her and Leon culminated prior to the events in Damnation.  She clearly cares about him, yet neither is truly smitten with the other despite an obvious attraction that was set up in RE2.

The rest of the characters in this CG film are not particularly interesting as they are dealt with (one way or the other) within the confines of this plot.  Degeneration approached its antagonists in the exact same fashion which, unfortunately, removes a healthy amount of danger and intrigue from these newly introduced characters.  I admire the Japanese filmmakers for creating this movie, but as a plot, does not stand on its own strength and really comes off as a strategic setup piece to get gamers used to the scale, scope and stakes of RE6.  These are the important bullet points I took away from Damnation:  1) Biohazards are potentially everywhere: from obscure rural communities to the largest of urban jungles in EVERY country.  2) Every variety of mutation you have seen thus far is probably going to make an appearance in the next game and the “zombies” that are supposedly making their triumphant return in RE6 are actually smart, weapon-wielding, ganados and not brainless T-virus victims.  3) Capcom’s marketing of the “3 campaign system” supposedly featuring 3 distinct play styles promising a return to “survival horror” in at least one of them is an absolute crock!  This film and the exceptional RE6 trailer attached to it cement this franchise in straight monster-slaughter action.  Accept it.

I liked parts of this film, but cannot admit to loving any of it.  The extra features on the Blu Ray disc are nothing to write home about, but the “making of” featurette is neat seeing the cast do all sorts of motion capture work on set.  I also found it interesting how this Japanese production company was using nothing but HP computer hardware for 100% of its production tools.  It’s just a simple observation.  This CG film is a vast improvement over Degeneration in almost every regard (look, sound and feel) with the exception of story.  Clearly, Capcom did not give director Makoto Kamiya the same leeway Paul W.S. Anderson had with his adaptations.  These films HAD to fit with the games and surely his options were limited.  Still, I was amazed that nothing more than the stellar action was at work in Damnation.  I wanted to see more character revelations, more connectivity with the games and overall more relevance, but what I got was more typical Eastern filmmaking that promotes style over substance; look over story.  The Blu Ray copy of Resident Evil: Damnation retails at $19.99 US dollars and I simply cannot recommend this film at that price to anyone besides serious Resident Evil fans.  If you find it on sale for $10, go for it, otherwise save that money for your pre-order of Resident Evil 6.

Movie News Reviews Video Game News

The State of Hollywood 6: The Metal Gear Movie


The State of Hollywood 6:

The Reality of the Metal Gear Solid Movie

By: Lawrence Napoli 


What could go wrong?


When the Metal Gear Solid film adaptation was confirmed to be in the works at Konami’s 25th Anniversary of the video game franchise, I was very intrigued at the prospect of bringing one of the most cinematic game sagas to the silver screen.  I was also quite apprehensive of such lofty ambitions for the simple fact that Hollywood has blundered just about every gaming license it has gotten its greasy palms on, and I’d hate to see Kojima’s masterpiece sullied by anyone for any reason.  Just look what they did to Super Mario and he was a fat plumber who curb-stomped turtles to save a princess.  How can Hollywood possibly handle the “nuances, ideology [and] cautionary tales,” (quoting Avi Arad, himself) of global conspiracy by the military industrial complex to control the future of mankind via technology, genetics, economics and violence?  (Wait, isn’t that happening in real life now?)

The answer to that question is that none of the above really matters to Avi Arad or anyone else in Hollywood because there are greenbacks to be made and ravenous fan bases ripe for exploitation.  Hollywood’s goal is producing blockbuster gold in the form of a film that may or may not have something important to say about life, but is really more interested in wooing dollars out of our wallets with explosions. 

In many respects, the meat of Metal Gear’s story contains ideas that average blockbusters wouldn’t normally give a second thought to.  That is until the most recent culmination of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (who, by the way, is the only director Kojima has mentioned interest in allowing to helm a Metal Gear adaptation).  Unfortunately, there is only one Chris Nolan and he will be too busy promoting the rest of DC’s alphas to Batman’s prominence on film.  Thus, [insert director here] inspires far less confidence in this project’s production which attracts a smaller pool of actors and other talented filmmaking professionals to the cause.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2964:]]Why Metal Gear and why now?

The entertainment industry seems to see Arad’s alliance with Columbia Pictures as a response to Ubisoft using its own production facilities to create an Assassin’s Creed adaptation starring Michael Fassbender.  I see it as Hollywood having sucked just about all the sellable juice from the comic book industry and it needs a new host to leach upon before it goes through a true “dry spell” of projects. 

The big four of the entertainment industry: music, movies, books and DVD’s are averaging between $30-60 billion dollars of annual, global revenue in their respective categories and the video game industry is on par with each of them.  This simply wasn’t the case 15 years ago, but considering the constant evolution of the internet and the increased demand for user interactivity as a result; it stands to reason that gaming continues to be on the rise and more people regardless of age, gender and ethnicity are plugging in.  The best known franchises in gaming have high exposure for various consumer bases around the world, so considering Hollywood’s recent trend on focusing on global numbers (as opposed to [US] domestic profits), it makes perfect sense for more games to be remixed as movies.

Metal Gear, as a franchise, gives Hollywood everything it wants in an adaptation: relevance, popularity, violence and lots of opportunities for special effects.[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2965:]]  Yet history has shown there is no such thing as “a sure thing” so not every gaming icon makes perfect sense to invest in.  As marquee as Mario and Link are in videogames, neither could sell a contemporary blockbuster the way Solid Snake can because they are rooted in Nintendo’s stylized fantasyland which may not be for everyone above the age of 13.  Halo also generates high visibility, but a film adaptation might turn off an audience more interested in action as opposed to being bombarded with too much sci-fi jargon and exposition.  The same goes for Mass Effect and BioShock.  The only other contemporary franchise that might out shine Metal Gear as a potential film would be anything that bears the name of Call of Duty, but please note the similarities between the two: modern day/future warfare, modern day army tactics, modern day violence (with a slight sci-fi edge to Metal Gear).

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2966:]]Dollars, cents and “success”

Let’s just say there really isn’t a lot of success when it comes to movies based on video games (as there isn’t much success in games based on movies).  Hollywood measures its success in cash and despite the ever increasing cost of general admission and conspiratorial gimmicks like double the ticket cost for IMAX and Digital DLP projection, the industry is still not making the money it used to make.  Yes, consumer feedback is most directly reflected in the dollars they spend and when you observe mega-films like Avatar and The Avengers take home multiple billions of dollars worth in global ticket sales, it makes you wonder how Hollywood could ever be struggling.

Hollywood’s problem in general (and game adaptations in particular) is that “success” measured in dollars is a skewed statistic as a result of the aforementioned inflation and tricks.  Only focusing on the green has contributed to the overall decline in Hollywood’s product and whether you agree with that statement or not, the audience is showing disappointment due to its increased absence as the years go by.  When you go to the movies, how often do you sit in theaters that one would consider “full?”  When you talk to your friends about movies how often do complaints like “I’ve seen it all before,” and “they’ve run out of ideas,” come up in the conversation?  It all sounds very circumstantial and unquantifiable, but if we tracked the number of tickets sold (regardless of price) we would begin to see an alarming drop in patronage overall.

Why should any of this be important to Hideo Kojima and his Metal Gear franchise?  Acknowledging the rising cost and decreased business of Hollywood has[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2968:]] placed even more pressure on blockbusters to over perform at the box office and this increased scrutiny demands stricter adherence to the “Hollywood formula”: good writing and plot are sacrificed for big name actors, elaborate set pieces, visual effects and tons of explosions (essentially style over substance).  Even “the formula” cannot be considered foolproof, but no major studio will ever bankroll such a project unless “the formula” is in full effect.  Cue, (Sony) Columbia Pictures which owns 15.5% of movie market share and is 2nd only to Warner Bros. in pure blockbuster production power.  Big money is already behind this Metal Gear project, but accepting it implies the complete submission to whatever Hollywood says the movie will be.  In the words of Amanda Connor regarding the adaptation of her husband’s Jonah Hex: “You don’t handle Hollywood.  Hollywood handles you!”  Sorry Kojima-san, you’ve just been kicked out of the writer’s room.


Kojima approved” may be irrelevant in the Metal Gear adaptation.

Why it will fail!

Three words: TACTICAL, ESPIONAGE, ACTION!  That is the subtitle for every Metal Gear Solid game and it designates to the player exactly what this fiction is all about in addition to the order of importance of each of these elements have within the story.  Hollywood’s “formula” dictates quite the opposite by forcing the film to be focused on action/effects, rated PG-13 and entirely unconcerned with social commentary.  When the base philosophical difference between the source material and the adaptation is that far apart, how on Earth could Avi Arad speak so smugly about staying true to Metal Gear’s “nuance and ideology?”


This is a sneaking mission Snake.  The goal here is gathering information, so apply appropriate tactics.

Metal Gear Solidis not about war.  War has changed.  War is the escalating cost of gasoline and energy.  War is hacking databases to steal identities.  War is Chinese banks buying up American debt.  War is corporations over people.  War is the race to do things better, faster and cheaper than the other guy.  War is less about proxy battles fought on foreign soil and more about the concept of human struggle and how interconnected every individual is in our daily toils as we live our lives.  THAT is Metal Gear Solid.  THAT is the story of Solid Snake: a super soldier coming to grips with how his warrior code of honor and discipline is completely at odds with his chain of command and the true authority behind it.  It is a case study in refined, character driven drama where even individuals of immense power still answer to another; slaves to causality; chess pieces playing out their roles.  The trick is they are all discovering this truth and not everyone likes it.

Solid Snake running around for two hours blowing sh*t up has 0% chance of producing a story that approaches any of the above. 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2971:]]How it might succeed

The right people have to be recruited for the creative positions in this kind of production: writers, actors, crew and F/X.  They must be led by a director that becomes intimate with the source material and creates a vision that he or she will not allow producers or executives to compromise.  [Insert director here] is not well versed in having a spine, let alone creating a vision worth buying into.  This is the reason why there are so many directors you have never heard of and will never hear from again.  Any old person will not do to direct this adaptation.

Mechs must be fully animated, but discipline must be maintained so as not to turn Metal Gear into Transformers.  One easy step in accomplishing this feat is by completely forgetting Michael Bay (or his agent) exists.  The second step is putting serious thought into the final battle which involves Snake vs. Liquid who is piloting the mechanical behemoth, Metal Gear Rex.  As ridiculous as 1 man fighting a robot the size of a house is, planning the action in a way that is not “over the top” is the only way the climax of this film (and Rex specifically) doesn’t come off as stupid.  Of course, that’s assuming the director wants to play out the final confrontation in the same manner as the game.  The answer to this situation becomes a little less daunting so long as “tactical” and “espionage” continue to prevail over “action.”


My name is Rex, not Grimlock!

Finally, the right actor must be cast for Solid Snake.  Certainly, Metal Gear features one of the most colorful casts in the history of fiction, but the story is very singular in perspective and Solid Snake is the man.  The internet has an interesting list of potential leading men such as Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen and Matt Damon (sorry David Hayter, you are invited to play some role on the film, but you can’t be Snake).  My particular problem with these high profile, A-listers is that just about all of them have already represented iconic characters recently and franchise fatigue is inevitable.  This affects both the actor’s performance as well as the audience’s ability to accept the actor in the role.  I am most intrigued with the mentioning of Josh Holloway who is most remembered for his role on Lost.  I like the fact that he has as much to gain from the role of Solid Snake as the role does from his performance.  He certainly looks the part, but can he act it?  Also, can he completely delete his southern accent?  Both of which are vital to creating a viable, Solid Snake.  I won’t give Josh my official endorsement, but the mitigating circumstances I just mentioned place him higher on the list than anyone else.



Adapting Metal Gear is not the slam dunk many would make it out to be.  Otherwise, it would have already happened.  It certainly presents a high risk/high reward scenario provided the creators approach this film with the intention of keeping it unique from other war/sci-fi/action films.  It also presents a low yield/heavy backlash scenario if the adaptation simply sucks.  I am not certain Kojima’s ego would survive such an outcome and I’d hate to have him stare that possibility down up close and personal.  And perhaps that is the reason we haven’t seen this game in Hollywood scripts up to now.  However, with the upcoming release of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (developed by Platinum Games) and Kojima’s desire to move into the producer’s chair for future Metal Gear Solid games, it seems he is being less possessive of his brainchild.  Ironically, Snake and Kojima share the same problem of trust as both consider themselves to be true professionals that rely on their own efforts rather than others.  Still, it’s much easier for a man to move mountains with the help of other men.

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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. 


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. 


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.  


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.  


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.” 


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?

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?


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!


(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  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 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.




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.



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.



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. 



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.

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