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What would Jesus do?

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    The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Episode 2: Ties That Bind Part Two

    Rating: 3.0 – Fair

    What would Jesus do?

    The season premiere of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier kicked things off with a bang, introducing fans to an intriguing new character named Javier and letting them revisit Clementine, whose past is being thoroughly explored in engaging flashback sequences. There was a great deal of hype when Telltale confirmed that the season premiere would be a two-parter, but unfortunately, the second episode, Ties That Bind Part Two, wastes the first episode’s momentum.

    Gameplay

    The second episode retains the same basic gameplay formula as all of Telltale’s Walking Dead games and does absolutely nothing different or innovative. Every once in awhile, Telltale will throw a new gameplay mechanic or feature into the mix to keep things fresh, but don’t expect that when playing the second part of the season premiere.

    Gameplay consists of moving Javier and Clementine around, pointing and clicking at things in the environment, and talking with other characters. The most exciting moments come from making big decisions that can impact the story.

    Unfortunately, A New Frontier fails to follow up on one of the big decisions from the previous episodes. It basically ignores the cliffhanger from before, and begins in a very nonsensical manner, depending on what choice players made. This sets a disappointing precedent that much of the rest of the season will fail to capitalize on the most exciting moments.

    Story

    The Walking Dead: A New Frontier’s second episode begins a little bit of time after the conclusion of the previous one. There’s little I can talk about without spoiling the plot for players, and since the plot is so integral to the entertainment value of the series, I will keep my mouth shut about most plot developments, except for one thing that was advertised by Telltale and is visible in the game’s menus.

    As was revealed in pre-release trailers, the second episode of A New Frontier introduces fan favorite character Jesus to the mix. Like when the first season had Glen and Hershel, Jesus’s appearance seems gimmicky. The Walking Dead game series has always been at its best when using original characters and material, so Jesus being involved sucks a lot of the tension out of the scenes.

    Something else that’s disappointing is that A New Frontier seems like it’s trying to mirror events going on in the TV series right now. Previous seasons have been guilty of this in the past, and just like when past seasons did it, it makes A New Frontier feel lesser compared to other Walking Dead media. There’s a group in this episode that is just way too similar to Negan’s Saviors from the show and comics, and it’s hard to buy that this big group existed in the same time as Negan’s group without meeting them. Quite frankly, it just makes it hard to get invested in zombie-infested Georgia, because it seems to be infinitely large with all these huge settlements all over.

    Graphics and Sound

    The Walking Dead: A New Frontier has graphics and audio on par with the first episode, which means there’s problems. Animations are stiff, and there’s slowdown galore. It has brighter colors than previous seasons and in general looks a bit better, but still, it’s disappointing that Telltale still can’t seem to polish the technical side of its games efficiently.

    Play Time/Replayability

    It also seems like the second half of the season premiere is a bit shorter than the first half. I could be wrong, but it was like things were over as soon as they were starting to get interesting. Telltale didn’t put any collectibles or anything like that for fans to find, and since the choices are really about players picking different colors to color in the same lines as opposed to truly carving out their own stories, going back to make different choices isn’t very enticing replayability.

    Final Recommendation

    There’s some engaging plot developments that happen in Ties That Bind Part Two and fans will want to see where the story goes, but its inclusion of Jesus is distracting, the continued technical problems are disappointing, and the story choices already seem less important than they should be. Hopefully Telltale can bounce back with a more impressive third episode for The Walking Dead’s third video game season.

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