Back when its first gameplay trailer "inadvertently" leaked a few months back, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct looked like trouble. Screen tearing, poorly paced street combat and the kind of zombie behavior that makes you wonder if they're even trying at all was already apparent. But Activision insisted that the game was better than it appeared, and that it would match the tone of the popular AMC television series, without missing a beat. Well, after playing the game, I can honestly say...the final product isn't far off from what that trailer represented. It sucks.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a first-person adventure that trudges along at the pace of a, well, zombie, with hardly any rewards for getting through each area and a tiresome formula that can't shake free from its limited design. It's like you're going through the motions hoping for any jarring moment that reminds you of the brilliance of the show, only to find disappointment with each step you take. And when you're yawning as you kill zombies, you know the game has problems.
The story takes place before the events of the show, with Daryl Dixon attempting to reunite with his troublesome brother Merle. There's an interesting lead-in with the opening of the game, with a startling death that puts things into motion. But that's really the closest you'll get to feeling any sort of raw emotion.
Survival Instinct's pacing is questionable. You'll spend a good amount of time making your way to certain stops on a map, collecting fuel so that you can keep moving in your car and occasionally taking on the undead. The game doesn't even give you the joy of driving from destination to destination, running over zombies along the way. It follows specific points in a map, for what seems like an endless amount of times. And even though Terminal Reality attempted to add strategy by letting you choose which roads to take – and the consequences that follow – it all pretty much leads back to the same old gameplay. Collect fuel and ammo, kill a few zombies, move on.