On Second Thought, Play The Walking Dead On Anything But an iPhoneHappy new year. I'd like to start the year by helping you avoid a mistake I made in 2012. But let's rewind one more year, first, ok?

In 2011 I had the good fortune of playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on a machine that wasn't the PlayStation 3. I played it on an Xbox 360, but I just as well could have played it on a PC and experienced the same benefit of avoiding the version of one of 2011's top games that made its players miserable.

Skyrim on PS3 was a mess. It was laggy. It crashed. It had problems in its launch month. Patches and updates still left it underperforming a month later, in December. In February, the game's lead creator was still having to explain just what in the world had gone so wrong. But by that time, many people had declared Skyrim Game of the Year for 2011 (it was a runner-up for us).

Some PS3 Skyrim players fumed.

How could a game that had a version that was that much of a mess take top honors? You could debate for some time whether a buggy version of a game that can be played smoothly on other platforms should disqualify a game from Game of the Year consideration.

We're not quite in the Skyrim PS3 situation again a year later, but I must warn you: if you're going to play Game of the Year contender/winner The Walking Dead and if you have a choice of what to play it on, avoid the iOS version.

For the past few weeks, I've been playing The Walking Dead, the much-loved five-part graphical adventure game about a band of people struggling to survive a zombie outbreak in south Georgia, on my iPhone. I could have been playing it on PC or Mac, on Xbox 360 or PS3. I could have been playing it on my iPad. But for maximum convenience (or so I thought), I downloaded it to my iPhone and committed to playing it there. That was sort of a mistake.

The game is good on my iPhone. The acclaimed story is gripping. Using finger-taps to choose dialogue options works fine. Whatever the best is that the game has to offer, the iPhone version of the game gave me that. That's why, when the game came to iOS, we gave it a thumbs up. Bring the best over of an exciting, impressive game, and we'll be plenty pleased.

The game wakes up from sleep about as well as a cranky one-year-old. Because of this, I've had to replay small chunks of the game two and three times.

The problem is that, after a longer time playing it, it's clear that the iPhone version of the game fails the prime use case of any portable game: it can't handle being interrupted. The game doesn't handle being started back up once it's been put to sleep and it winds up requiring its players to re-play as much as several minutes' worth of its adventure time after time.

As you play The Walking Dead the game will automatically save your progress. These auto-saves occur infrequently and typically only after scene changes or major decision moments. There's nothing weird about a game that doesn't let you manually save and makes you sweat it out to the next auto-save checkpoint. That's standard, if sometimes inappropriately archaic, game design. It's also, sadly, incompatible with how mobile games are played. You don't time your sessions on a mobile game to the length of time between save points. You time them to the amount of time it takes for your bus or subway to get to the next stop or until it's your turn at the supermarket checkout counter or in the doctor's office. When it's time to stop playing, you have to stop playing.

Any well-made mobile game can deal with these sudden pauses. The iPhone, like the 3DS or Vita, lets you put a game to sleep. Most well-made mobile games can be woken right back up so you can resume playing. Most well-made mobile games can even tolerate an iPhone user's need to take a phone call, snap a photo or use any other app, other than the game, before returning to the game.

Through auto-saves, build stability and who knows what else, most mobile games can be woken back up just fine. Not the Game of the Year contender The Walking Dead. It wakes up about as well as a cranky one-year-old. After interruption, it often will display the moment you last saw in the game, but then it will freeze, choke, kick back to the title screen and wipe out any progress you made since your last auto-save. Because of this, I've had to replay small chunks of the game two and three times.

My colleague Jason Schreier has had the same problem with the iPad version, aka the version I almost played this game on. But I'd say that an iPad arguably could be considered a device you do play on for fairly long sessions. I could accept a save system and inability to handle idle states well on a tablet. On a phone? That system is terrible.

The game also doesn't support cloud-saves, for some reason. Progress in the iPhone game can't be picked up on the iPad, which is another way The Walking Dead fails to meet the standards of average iOS games, let alone one of the supposed best of the bunch.

In the days to come we'll be talking about our Game of the Year contenders here at Kotaku. I imagine we'll be talking about The Walking Dead quite a bit. I know that I'll be able to talk about the game's best qualities, but I'll also know that I experienced the game at its worst. I played the Skyrim PS3 version of the game and am simply grateful I haven't run into many of the crash bugs listed by other players on iTunes (I only hit one game-killing bug, early in the game's second act; re-loading to the last checkpoint resolved it).

I don't recommend that you avoid The Walking Dead. You'd be missing out. But I do recommend that you avoid the iPhone version if you can. It's more hassle than an iPhone gamer should have to put up with.


News of an Activision-published Walking Dead FPS first shambled out over the summer, but all we've had so far is a few screenshots and art pieces to set the mood. This trailer give a first look at the gameplay in The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, which is being developed by Terminal Reality. Seems like some stealth and redirection tactics are going to be necessary amongst all the melee and shooting. What do you think, TWD fans? Does this clip make you want to play as one of the show's more controversial characters?

PC Gamer
Walking-Dead GOTY

Questions surrounding the portrayal of women in games, and the treatment of women in the games industry, have been with us throughout the year. Encouragingly, the resulting discussion, and events like #1reasonwhy, managed to rise above the vomitous whirlpool of anonymous abuse that characterises lowest dregs of internet discourse (which exist far away from here, of course). The issue is here to stay.

With that in mind we decided to take a look back across the year and celebrate the games that have done a good job of intelligently portraying a broad range of characters in terms of gender, race and sexuality. I'm happy to deliver an official PC Gamer fist-bump to Telltale games for their work on The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead derives its dramatic momentum from the frictions that spark among its diverse cast members. It succeeds not because it brings together such an interesting group of human beings, but because it simultaneously elevates them above the race and gender cliches that, under the pens of a less thoughtful writing team, could easily come to define them.

In The Walking Dead we meet men and women, young and old, black and white, cowardly and proud, angry and mistrustful. Every trait is a feature of each character's personality, not a direct symptom of their race, gender education or background. In Lee Everett we have a rare example of an african american main character. He's a professor. He's a killer. Kenny is from the deep south but he's not a hick. Young Clementine is vulnerable, but intelligent and independent. In a medium where lazy characterisation based on race and gender is the norm, The Walking Dead represents a breath of cool air. Every character resists cliche. The result is one of the most engrossing and surprising stories of the year.

Props go out, too, to Mass Effect 3. A close runner up. Bioware have gathered a fine team of interesting and capable women, men, androids and space toads for the glorious finale and for the first time in the series they introduced fully written same-sex relationships. The writers blogged about it too.

"I’m fortunate to have gay and lesbian friends at BioWare who were willing to take a look at Traynor for me and help me edit a few bad lines that played into negative stereotypes. As for the fans, the reaction has been very positive so far – I think the nicest thing I’ve heard was, “I think I’ve actually had that conversation in real life," said writer Patrick Weekes.

BONUS AWARD: Most adroit three point turn out of the mindset and values of the 21st century - Hitman Absolution

The fact there have been so many gender-related gaming scandals this year may be a good thing: in previous years these sorts of things have gone largely without comment or complaint. This year’s cavalcade of calumny is proof, at least, that there is an increasing will to change things.

Change things like, say, a game trailer in which the male protagonist brutally murders a host of sexy BDSM nuns in graphic slow-motion. Or the atmosphere of an industry in which women are routinely patronised or abused as evidenced by the #1ReasonWhy Twitter movement. Or games in which female characters appear only to be objectified or killed. Take Black Ops 2’s cast of speaking roles for women, for instance: one (“probably some whore”) gets burnt alive and then blown up with a grenade. Another gets her throat cut (though, in fairness, this can be avoided through the game’s branching paths). The third is a pilot - promising! - although she gets shot out of the sky and our character jumps in and is able to fly the plane with no prior experience.

The longest, loudest facepalm of the year was triggered by the sight of Hitman: Absolution's rubberised nunssassins, and the Facebook campaign that invited friends to order Facebook "hits" on girls for having “awful make-up," "strange odour" and "small tits," and on guys for having a "hairy back," a "big gut" or a "small penis," which at least gave men and women equal opportunites to offend one another. The Facebook campaign was quickly pulled. Hopefully we'll see less of its like next year, and all the years beyond.
Dec 27, 2012

The Year In Zombies I didn't notice how fairly quiet a year it's been for zombies until doing this round-up of all the flesh-eaters this year's media has to offer, but there were definitely some highlights that more than fill those gaps. Some duds, too, but you can't expect such a watered down narrative to always go over so creatively.

So let's take a look back at 2012 and all the zombie media that it had to offer. From games to comics to TV shows to film, here are a few highlights. If we missed any you're keen on, share your noteworthy selections in Kinja below.

The Games

The Walking Dead

The Year In Zombies

This is the star of the list. Telltale's wonderfully harrowing episodic series was a somber exploration through your personal judgments as the game threw increasingly difficult decisions your way. The point-and-click adventure game also featured some refreshingly interesting characters, including a remarkably enjoyable young Clementine and a steadfast Lee. Though definitely the mediocre platform of the bunch, the iOS version available was an alternative to non-console gaming users. Which is great, because the more people that play this touching eye-opener the better.

Resident Evil

The Year In Zombies

There were hits and misses embedded in this franchise's 2012 existence. Resident Evil 6, for instance, was incredibly underwhelming. As much as the game tried to make interesting changes to the series, it felt too outdone by other games. Resident Evil: Revelations was a surprise hit on the 3DS, combining a quality Resident Evil vibe with an episodic structure that suited the mobile game well. And then Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City ran somewhere in the middle at mediocre.


The Year In Zombies

The mod so good it's getting its own standalone game, DayZ has had an incredibly good year. It's marked by hundreds of compelling player tales on survival and trust, and a bunch of funny videos, too. Truly an experience unlike any other MMO or zombie game.


The Year In Zombies

Not only is ZombiU arguably the game that makes best use of the Wii U's GamePad capabilities so far in the early launch days of Nintendo's new console, but it's also a fascinating game. The shooter experiments with new concepts—like having to kill zombified versions of your previous lives—and includes an incredibly fun multiplayer mode, too.

Black Ops II

The Year In Zombies

But, wait! This is a first-person, war shooter! Well it also has a multiplayer option completely dedicated to zombies. And it's quite good, if not a little tough.


The Year In Zombies

Zombro is a clever, bright puzzle game where you can dismember your zombie body to roll, bounce, and crawl your way around each level. It's a lot of fun.


The Year In Zombies

Deploy survivors, give them tasks, and survive.

Zombies, Run!

The Year In Zombies

Here's an interesting take on the world of zombie games. Zombies, Run! is an exercise game. As you go for a run around your neighborhood, you'll be listening to the story and taking instructions from the game, picking up supplies while being chased by zombies.

The Movies

Resident Evil: Retribution

The Year In Zombies

I imagine viewers are split on this one, as video games adapted into movies are never great. But our movie reviewer, Matt Hawkins, thinks that there are enjoyable elements to the latest film. Like great action sequences and some actual nods to the game, albeit not always too accurately.


The Year In Zombies

This stop-motion animated zombie flick is different than what you're used to. It leans to the comedy variety rather than a horror film. Protagonist Norman has to use his ability to speak with the dead to fend off against the living dead. It's an adorable entry in what is normally a gross and scary one.

REC 3: Genesis

The Year In Zombies

Perhaps not the most unique of zombie movies, REC 3: Genesis is at the least packed with gore and ludicrous action. What else can you expect of a wedding gone awry at the hands of a disgusting and infectious illness?

The TV Show

The Walking Dead

The Year In Zombies

AMC's The Walking Dead, based on the comic book series, started off strong. Though losing some of its viewer loyalty somewhere near the end of season one and a whole lot of boring farm episodes in season two, the show has since picked up the pace in recent months with season three where the group of survivors finally starts to make more moves. The highlight of which has to be Daryl, who is certainly my favorite character, and unique to the show.

The Comics

The Walking Dead

The Year In Zombies

Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead series is absolutely fantastic. Artist Charlie Adlard's powerful black-and-white imagery adds to the many, many tense moments in the series that has been ongoing since 2003. It follows a group of survivors as they meet their biggest threats head-on: other survivors. Think of the series as less about zombies and more about the world zombies have left in their wake.

Marvel Zombies

The Year In Zombies

From Evan: If you only know Robert Kirkman from The Walking Dead or his other creator-owned hits like Invincible, you may not know that he delivered a gleefully gross mash-up of superheroes and shambling undead a few years back. Marvel Zombies gave us versions of Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man and others who devoured every human being on their home planet and went battling across the multiverse to hunt for more fresh meat. This year, a massive anthology collected all the MZ mini-series between two covers. It's good gory fun that makes the good guys very bad. Get it for the zombie lover in your life.

PC Gamer
walking-dead GOTY 2

Writing is as much about structure as conversation and character. This year Telltale's experimentation with the episodic format has finally worked. Their survival horror adventure game, The Walking Dead played to the strengths of its format beautifully, tearing its characters out of each situation just as they started to settle in. It's an apocalyptic road trip that delivers satisfying, self-contained two-to-three hour plot arcs, but always quietly builds to a grand finale that, for many, provided the emotional payoff of the year.

There are lot of layers to storytelling in an interactive medium, especially in an adventure game in which you spend most of your time talking to folk. Walking Dead's structure means it has more opportunity than most games to show off, but that also means plenty of opportunity to offend with a momentary lapse in sense, a sudden unexplained right turn in a character's motivations, or the sudden introduction of a cavernous plot hole.

There's a difference between a character behaving unpredictably, but within the range of plausible action, and a character stepping out of themselves entirely. It's a line Telltale walk finely with Lee's companions. Making friends and gaining their loyalty requires you to juggle their motivations and constantly assess their perceptions of you.

Then, just when you think you're in control, something explodes and you must choose which relationship is more valuable, sometimes at the behest of a ten second timer.

It's cruel, but that's what the Walking Dead does so well - the bait and switch. It offers you scraps of security, and replaces it with sudden, violent calamity. And into the chaos they thrust a young kid who needs a helping hand. It's traumatic, but quite brilliant.

A second season of The Walking Dead is expected next year. I can't wait.

Some War Z Images Were Ripped From The Walking Dead

As promised, the strange saga of War Z just keeps getting stranger. Turns out this promo screen for zombie survival game, which was pulled from Steam earlier today, was plagiarized from The Walking Dead.

A Kotaku reader sent over the following image to show off just how much of this War Z title screen was plagiarized from other sources: (Click to expand.)

Some War Z Images Were Ripped From The Walking Dead

It looks like the top few photos are from fan zombie gatherings (assuming they're not from actual zombie invasions). We couldn't track down the bottom-left photo—I think it's from Shaun of the Dead?—but the bottom-middle one is straight out of The Walking Dead.

The bottom-right photo, which was mirrored for the leftmost female zombie in the War Z image, is also from The Walking Dead.

For a clearer comparison:

Some War Z Images Were Ripped From The Walking Dead Some War Z Images Were Ripped From The Walking Dead

Will this story ever end? Stay tuned.


More shows need Christmas specials. The UK The Office and more recently, Downton Abbey both had some pretty outstanding specials; surely The Walking Dead could use one?

This video from Jawiin imagines just such a scenario. The jokes are hit or miss, but the impersonations are all pretty great. "I'VE GOT THE HAM."

Are you with me that this most recent half-season of TWD was the strongest the show has been? Or do you think it's been good all along? What other shows deserve weird Christmas specials? I'd watch a Breaking Bad Christmas special.

Chat about that or whatever else, here or over in the Talk Amongst Yourselves forum. See you tomorrow.


See If You Can Beat The Walking Dead Creator's Video Game ChallengesTelltale's The Walking Dead game might be getting the lion's share of press lately, but there's actually another very good Walking Dead game out there: The Walking Dead: Assault for iOS. No, really: it's good!

Walking Dead author Robert Kirkman has been having fun promoting the game, and has launched a new Twitter campaign called "Play the Walking Dead" in which he'll regularly issue new challenges for the game via Twitter through December 21 (You know, when the world ends). It's the kind of thing that could be cool, or could be obnoxious, depending—but still, cool to see the author of the series engaging with the game so directly.

Full details from the press release:

Beginning today, Skybound, publisher of The Walking Dead: Assault and Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, Invincible, Thief of Thieves and Super Dinosaur, will host "the 10 days of the Apocalypse", a celebration of our forthcoming apocalypse as predicted by the Mayans.

To celebrate this pivotal event in human history, Robert Kirkman is hosting a "10 days of the Apocalypse" event, where every day at 11AM PST on his Twitter feed, @RobertKirkman, he will set a new daily challenge for players of The Walking Dead: Assault.

Winners of each challenge will be awarded prizes that will be kept secret until the challenge is made, however, know that some of these will be very special items you will not be able to find anywhere else.

So, sure, it's really just a stunt to promote The Walking Dead: Assault. But hey, the game is good, and this gives the welcome opportunity to beat the creator of The Walking Dead at his own game.

PC Gamer
The Walking Dead Episode Five

Telltale's episodic Walking Dead series of drama-laced survival hit shelves today as a boxed edition compiling all five episodes of the first season. Retailing exclusively at Best Buy stores for $30, the collection charts the struggles of Lee, Clementine, Kenny, and other memorable characters as personalities clash and mesh during a widespread zombie outbreak.

Previously available as individual digital downloads through Steam and Telltale's Season Pass, the boxed Walking Dead provides a means to scoop up the entirety of the first season's cliffhangers, moral ambiguity, and bloodstained shovels. Seeing as the culminating fifth episode alone yanked enough on our heartstrings to include the series in our Game of the Year selections, it's definitely a worthy buy for those seeking the entire experience.
PC Gamer
GameFly End of the World sale

When facing the end of time as we know it through a cataclysmic prophecy, it's time for a sale to mark history's end with a bang. To wit, GameFly's End of the World event nixes 75 percent off select titles for the next 12 days, providing valuable buys such as a $15/£9 Witcher 2, a $25/£15.50 XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and $12.50/£8 for The Walking Dead, among others.

More games will appear throughout the sale's duration, but current offerings include Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for $2.50/£1.60, Batman: Arkham Asylum for $10/£6, and Crysis for $7.50/£4.70.

If you haven't yet taken shelter in your fallout bunker cheered at the increasing arrival of awesome holiday sales, Origin's Green Monday sale are still around for just one more day with 40 percent off on tons of noteworthy titles such as Battlefield 3 ($24/£15), Crusader Kings II ($24/£15), and The Sims 3 ($18/£11). Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a couple of asteroid-repelling planks to board up.