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TWD: A New Frontier Episodes 1 and 2 Review (PS4)

Telltale's hit series has returned, this time introducing a new protagonist. In The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, you follow the story of Javier as he fights to protect his family in an apocalypse. During the story, you will meet new characters while also bumping into old ones we all know and love.

TWD: A New Frontier Episodes 1 and 2 Review (PS4)

Introduction

The first two episodes of A New Frontier titled 'Ties That Bind Part 1 and Part 2' released on all platforms on December 20th. The game follows the story of Javier and takes place a couple of years after the end of Season 2. I have been a big fan of The Walking Dead game series since Season 1 and I was really looking forward to playing The Walking Dead: A New Frontier. But does the game live up its hype and is it worth buying?

You can buy the game on the Playstation Store for £24.99.

Narrative

Telltale are well-known for writing captivating and emotional stories that keep the player hooked into a game. A New Frontier is no different with a well-designed story that is very enjoyable to play through. However, there are some problems with some of the narrative.

The game starts by showing Javier and his extended family right at the start of the apocalypse before skipping a few years into the future where Javier is looking after his brother's wife and children. Before we get into any action, the game gives us a picture of what the family have been through in their conversation.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Javier and his family
The present day in A New Frontier has an immersive story with a new hostile group called the New Frontier that are slowly introduced into the story. We learn from Clementine that the New Frontier used to be good people but now they are not. The group seem to be designed well with many of their members having different personalities which make the group seem real.

My main problem with the narrative arises with Clementine's flashbacks and the way that they handled our endings to Season 2. At the end of Season 2, there were multiple endings with Clementine with different characters. Telltale bring all these endings together in a matter of a couple of minutes with most of them having bad writing. Telltale should have spent more time on and made these flashbacks longer as it seems like they have thrown our Season 2 endings down the drain.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier: Meeting a new character
Other than the flashbacks, the narrative seems well-written with good twists and plot points that all come together to create an immersive story. In A New Frontier, the world seems to have changed a lot since the end of Season 2. Many more makeshift towns have been constructed and communities have been built which leads to a different atmosphere in the game.

As with all Telltale games, the player makes choices that affect how other characters think of you and which characters die. However, like most Telltale games, it seems like most of your choices don't matter. Throughout the two episodes, only one choice I made at the end of Episode 2 seemed to change the story more than a couple of dialogue changes.

Characters

Throughout the game, there is a wide variety of characters that we meet. The main playable character in the game is Javier, an ex-baseball player who got a lifetime ban for betting on himself. When I first heard that Javier would take over as the main playable character, I was a bit worried but after playing as him for two episodes, my worries are gone. So far, Javier seems interesting as a character. He is a man who will do anything to protect his family.

Close to Javier is his family. They seem well-designed with unique personalities. Kate is a protective step-mother who tries her hardest to do the right thing for her family. Mariana is a shy girl who likes to keep to herself. Gabe is a Ben-like character who tries to do the right thing but keeps making mistakes. The family seem independent and different in their own way.

In the game, we also meet Clementine who has had a main role in the first two seasons. Clementine seems a lot colder than she has been in past seasons, and this doesn't change because of your choices. It would have been nice if Clem's personality was different depending on your choices in Season 1 and 2, but this would have been too much work for Telltale.

Finally, we have the other members of your group. Each one of them seems to have their own personality and interests, however, they seem very stereotypical and clique at times with a couple of them changing their personalities at times to suit the plot.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier: The return of a familiar face

Gameplay

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier plays very much like Telltale's other games. Most of the game is a cinematic where you make choices to decide what you say in conversations or what actions to make. The game is also made up of sections where you are free to walk around a small area and quick time events.

When you are speaking to other characters, you will often have a choice on what you want to say. The game usually gives you four options with one being to stay quiet and say nothing. What you choose to say in conversations will affect how the characters react to you and how much they like you. The conversation tree may also give you options to perform an action (for example you can try to negotiate with someone or just attack them). Telltale have designed the conversation tree well, and it is often hard deciding what choice to pick.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier: Conversation Tree
Instead of free-flowing combat sequences, A New Frontier offers quick time events. The quick time events in A New Frontier are improved since Season 1 and 2, seeming a lot more fluent with extra features. My only problem with quick time events is that sometimes if you don't do it in time, sometimes the game just does the action anyway. An example of this is that in part of the game, you had to push to the right to get behind cover. However, if you fail to push to the right, your character gets behind cover anyway.

The final part of gameplay in the game is where you are free to walk around a small area. During this time, you can interact with objects and speak to other characters to find out more information about them. You don't usually have much freedom during these times and you can only interact with certain objects and character by clicking on them. During the parts of the game where you are free to walk, there is either a person to talk to or an object to interact with to progress on in the game.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier: Free Movement around the junkyard

Graphics and performance

Telltale's engine seems improved in A New Frontier compared to their past games. The graphics are more detailed with more realistic lighting that helps shape the mood that the developers wanted to create. Performance also seems improved on PS4 and there is no longer as many big pauses in the middle of quick time events however the problem is still there. The engine isn't perfect, though, and the game did crash three times during two playthroughs of the first two episodes.

Conclusion

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is a solid new addition to Telltale's new game series featuring new interesting characters, a changed world and improved gameplay. The engine has also been improved with better graphics, lighting and all round performance. Telltale are known for immersive narratives and A New Frontier is no exception with well-designed plot twists and characters and interesting antagonists.

However, there are some problems with the game, such as how Telltale handled your Season 2 ending with a 3 minute poorly written flashback. Also, most of your choices don't seem to affect the story other than a couple of dialogue changes.

PROSCONS
+ CLEMENTINE– Season 2 endings are handled in a 3 minute poorly written flashback
+ Improved graphics and performance– Most of your choices don't affect the story other than a couple lines of dialogue
+ Well-designed narrative– Game crashes a couple of times during playthrough
+ Fun gameplay– Small freezes and lag in combat quick time events
+ Interesting, unique characters
+ Good plot twists
7.7
Good

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