The first two seasons of The Walking Dead were one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in gaming. How TellTale managed to create such a bond between the player and all the characters that it actually had you caring about some and really, really hating others. I’m looking at you Larry . I’d never fully had that in a game before. So this review may be a little biased as I love this game more than I love most things.
Possible spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
When the game opens the first thing I was expecting to see was Clementine and AJ. Although that was mostly out of anxiety after how I ended Season 2 with them all on their own. Yes I’m still recovering after shooting Kenny. Instead I was greeted by Javier Garcia, who you’ll be spending most your time with. Clementine is also playable but only in her flashbacks. At least so far. These seem to have no impact on the story or relationships with characters, more of a playable flashback so we can learn what she’s been up to while she’s been away.
The change of character from Season 1 to 2 made sense as you went from Lee looking after Clem to playing as Clem. Now you have this new guy and his story. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. Obviously fresh faces have to be introduced but Clementine is the only connection to what started all this. I’m just worried they’re going to go the route of getting shot of Clem and then there’s no ties and they can start all over again which means never ending sequels which I personally have had quite enough of.
With Javier as the main character and not much of a back story yet you’re thrown right into his life, and his brother David’s fists, before the apocalypse. Which apparently had it’s troubles. You’re on your way home as your father lies dying but don’t make it in time which upsets the family. It doesn’t take long at all to get to know the characters and the sort of people each of them are within the first 20 minutes. It does however make it difficult to make decisions and know what to say to certain people given that they all had relationships before the game started. But that could be me thinking into it too much. After all hell breaks loose we get thrown to the present day with Javier, David’s wife Kate and their two, now teenage, kids.
One thing I did struggle with was making decisions as Javier. When I play I get a vibe of what the character is like and how they would respond to certain situations and that’s how I play it. With Javier it was difficult to know where he stood in certain circumstances. Or knowing what he would do. If you don’t think like this then it’s fine, you can do what you want to do. No problems there. But playing it in this manor makes every little decision like a mini panic attack.
You and your family eventually find your way to a junkyard where you search for supplies. Once going car to car to find fuel you come across a hut loaded with food. Of course nothing is ever that simple and you quickly get ambushed by raiders/survivors/bad guys. This results in you being taken away from your family and transported…somewhere. On this setback you have your encounter with Clementine for the first time and head to a settlement called Prescott. After a bit of a disagreement with a resident you find yourself travelling back to the junkyard to find your family. After some gunfire and misery the episode comes to an explosive close.
I played the first two seasons on my Xbox 360 and since hearing about A New Frontier I’ve been worried about importing my saves over. This turned out to be no worry at all. Just go onto the previous console, upload your save to the cloud. Select it on the TellTale site and then pick it up in A New Frontier. Super simple. Although from what I’ve seen your choices really don’t matter at this point which is a little upsetting.
As I haven’t played Batman yet this was my first time on they’re new/updated engine. Graphically it’s a lot smoother and crisper, but of course you can only go so far with cell shaded graphics. The character animation has also improved. Everyone moves a lot less sim-esque now and a lot more fluid. Anyone that has played TellTale games will know that they don’t focus on looks and dive completely into personality.
That doesn’t mean that it looks no better. It’s certainly easier on the eyes but above everything, above all else there was not a sign, not a trace…of a glitch, stutter or pause. I hope I can say those days are behind TellTale. As much as I adore their games that was a major issue and caused problems more than once for me. But not in A New Frontier. Plays nice and smooth with no hiccups. It made the game a lot more enjoyable.
With a new engine the combat has stayed the same. You still have the quick time event button prompts. This has never been an issue for me as it’s the games style. At least they’re consistent and have stuck to they’re style rather than mixing it up. These games have always been more like an interactive story rather than an action game.
Making A Connection
A New Frontier pretty much introduces a whole new cast. There’s not a whole lot of back story for them and not much information either. But TellTale doing what they do best with creating an incredible story and events you find yourself liking and disliking people right off the bat. I was in draw drop mode from the first episode due to characters. When Clementine was introduced again there was no trouble reconnecting. I was just happy to see her again.
TellTale’s recent flow of games have had this amazing ability to make you have an almost human relationship with the most not realistic looking individual. Even they’re facial expressions are somewhat realistic even though they’re outlined in a thick black line. This might just be me. Or it may be a small amount of us that play that feel this way. Either way, it pulls you into the character progression and story vigorously. Hell, I was so attached to the games that I found myself apologising to Clementine when I saw how she turned out and how broken she is. That could however just be down to my loneliness…moving on.
All in all this yet another fantastic addition to the Walking Dead Seasons. Mostly due to it’s new engine as it’s so nice to play without any crashes, stutters or loading screens. I feel that you’re decisions in Seasons 1 and 2 have little to no effect on on A New Frontier. Well, there’s no signs of it yet anyway. Hopefully this isn’t the case otherwise I see another Mass Effect 3 ending on the horizon. Even though it’s all new characters it’s still fantastic story telling and creates great tension and shock. If a fan of the previous Seasons this is looking to be another emotionally scaring journey.