The Walking Dead, Season 3: The New Frontier, Episodes 1 and 2
Telltale Games has been grinding out content for years now. They found a formula with the original The Walking Dead series that won them dozens upon dozens of Game of the Year awards in 2012. Since then, Telltale has banged out approximately 716 games with the exact same formula in place: stylized, cartoony art direction painting a normally bleak story-driven campaign, forcing you to make life and death decisions when in the end, none of it seems to ever truly matter. Batman, Game of Thrones, Minecraft, The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, and now Guardians of the Galaxy sometime likely in 2017 in conjunction with the launch of the GotG sequel, they all have had a whack at the “The Walking Dead” treatment.
But you never forget your first.
The Walking Dead, Season 3: The New Frontier. There was something about loading up the title screen and going through the intro chapter”¦it just felt good to be back to the original series. I wasn’t going to be throwing any batarangs from my utility belt or have voice actors Patrick Warburton or Chris Hardwick try to get a chuckle out of me from the Borderlands universe. The Walking Dead feels as it is supposed to feel: dark, desperate and fairly hopeless”¦and that’s just the kind of drama that made this series great in the first place.
Without going into too much detail into the storyline to spoil anything, Telltale Games is doing something a little new with the new season 3 release. Instead of simply having the first game available, this time, the first two episodes of a five episode story arc. And let me tell you what, I was extremely grateful to be able to click “next episode” as soon as the credits rolled, because as in all of Telltale Games’ series, they all end with a seemingly impossible decision that you’re forced to make with the clock ticking.
The story introduces us to a whole new family and whole new set of problems associated with them, with a smattering of characters from previous The Walking Dead seasons. While you don’t technically need to play through Seasons 1 and 2, it definitely feels great when “X” character strolls onto the screen when you’re not expecting it. If you’ve played through both seasons, you can take a fairly safe guess at a few of the characters making a return. If you haven’t played through any of the series or you simply don’t have a save backed up for it to draw your previous season decisions from, Telltale mercifully gives you the option of manually pick the major plot points in a quick series of questions: in your game, did “X” character survive or did “Y” character? When you were subjected to this impossible choice, did you pick the honey badger or the piece of rotting swiss cheese?
I wish I could talk more about the story and the game, but there’s really not much to say without delving into spoiler territory. One minor quibble is Telltale Games really needs to do something about changing up its facial models a bit; I’m also playing through the Batman series right now, and Catwoman’s “Selina Kyle” model looks like it was cut and pasted directly into this episode. They have the capacity to do so; the other female lead in the game looks dramatically different, but every time I’d come back to the one heroine character, my brain kept going back to seeing Catwoman. Hey, I said it was a minor quibble, I meant it.
I also played The Walking Dead, Season 3: The New Frontier on Steam on my gaming PC as opposed to my Xbox, so the game ran like butter. I am regularly accustomed to abysmal frame rates during fight sequences for Telltale Games titles for console, but didn’t have a single hitch on my rig. Both episodes clocked in at just shy of three hours for the two of them, and I certainly felt compelled to do so. It was an amazing three hour ride: I sat bolt upright in my chair at the end of the first episode, literally shouting, “JESUS CHRIST” at what had just happened.
That said, it’s a fairly standard formula at this point, and if you’ve never liked the Telltale Games format, this isn’t going to change your mind any. If you do or if you’ve played through The Walking Dead before? Then throw your money at the screen, because Telltale Games came out of their corner swinging for Season 3: The New Frontier.