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Terminal Reality

Studio Closure photo
Studio Closure

Development studio Terminal Reality has shut down

Studio behind Ghostbusters and BloodRayne has closed
Dec 12
// Alessandro Fillari
2013 hasn't been to kind to struggling game studios, and it appears we've got another casualty before this rocky year in gaming closes out. It is now reported that the Texas-based game studio, Terminal Reality, has shut down....

Review: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

Mar 22 // Jim Sterling
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: Terminal RealityPublisher: ActivisionReleased: March 19, 2013MSRP: $49.99 From the moment the game's opening menu appears, Survival Instinct sets the tone for what is to come. A still image of Daryl, rendered in blocky textures with a distinct lack of detail on his visage as if he were a child's doodle stuck on a fridge. The menu screen looks like it was cobbled together at the last minute, thrown into the game by developers in a hurry. A fitting opening gambit for a game that spends all six of its campaign's hours hammering that feeling home with brutal dedication.  Attempting to act as a prequel of sorts to the AMC Walking Dead series, Survival Instinct claims to tell the story of Daryl and Merle Dixon, southern stereotypes and typically the only two characters on the show who aren't thoroughly unbearable. In reality, the story is more about how Daryl has to pick up dozens of fuel cans lying in the middle of the street. Merle is barely featured, which is a shame, because Rooker is the only one involved with the game who seems to be putting any effort in, while Norman Reedus murmurs his way through lines with all the enthusiasm of a comatose goldfish.  There's not really much of a story going on, and certainly nothing vital enough to prove important to fans of the show. Daryl is looking for Merle. Daryl finds Merle. Daryl loses Merle. Daryle finds Merle again. Oh, and zombies wander around in between events. Anybody looking for intriguing lore or fascinating backstory events will be disappointed -- though I'd be surprised if anybody expected anything in the first place.  [embed]249298:47696:0[/embed] Played from a first-person perspective, Survival Instinct admittedly tries to have some good ideas, all of which suffer from a lack of follow-through. In each mission, Daryl must find weapons, encounter survivors, gather fuel, and locate food. Ammo, naturally, is scarce, while guns attract huge hordes of walkers. The general idea is that Daryl makes his way quietly through each relatively small mission area, picking off the undead, completing objectives, and acquiring precious resources to continue his journey. It's a solid enough premise, but so vapid in practice, a straightforward and generic shooter may as well have sufficed.  By far the most depressingly hilarious waste of potential is to be found with the survivors. During the course of the game, Daryl may encounter fellow travelers and recruit them into his group. At the beginning of missions, these survivors can be equipped with gear and sent into the area to scavenge for ammo, food, or fuel, though there's a risk they may never come back. It's a solid idea, but these survivors exist as nothing more than glorified retrieval dogs. There's no narrative reason for keeping them around, and if your car runs out of room (vehicles can only take so many), you will have to dismiss somebody -- a process as simple as choosing a victim, selecting to eject them, and moving on. The characters will go without protest, or even a single line of dialog. For a property that's always put human drama first, the wholesale trade of these non-entities is at least amusing in its irony.  Although stealth is heavily emphasized, and it's suggested walkers locate you by smell, Daryl can happily walk around the environment without attracting too much attention. Not even needing to sneak, players could sprint up to a zombie and one-hit kill it with an execution animation, provided it's got its back turned. Should a walker be fought head-on, one merely needs to stab it three times. Each time a walker is stabbed, it will stumble, then roar in the player's face just long enough for the next thrust of the weapon. Each face-to-face encounter feels like a scripted wrestling match, the opponent waiting for the next staged punch.  Although there is a very limited number of inventory slots, the player can never drop Daryl's knife, even when better melee weapons come along to render it obsolete. There is a single reason for this -- there's a handful of execution animations, and they all involve the knife. The knife has to stay in the inventory to justify it, no matter how silly it might be for Daryl to put his axe away and yank out a knife every single time he stealth-kills something. It becomes all the more egregious when you've run out of slots, have all manner of useful guns and ammo in your inventory, but can't drop the useless knife in favor of something superior. While generally easy, the game exploits its own shoddy mechanics to contrive a sense of challenge. Individual zombies are simple to put down, but Daryl has pretty much no defense against multiple walkers, whose comical, limp-wristed swipes can do considerable damage in quick succession. There is no efficient way to fight multiple enemies at once, as shoving them back or swinging a weapon rarely hits more than one opponent at any given time. If fighting two or more enemies, it's basically a given that you'll take damage for daring to attack. Not too much of an issue, given the abundance of health items, but it nonetheless feels cheap, and while ZombiU used a similar structure to make battles genuinely scary, the combat is so sloppy and silly looking in Survival Instinct it just comes off as miserable.  Even cheaper are the zombie respawn rates. The undead reappear in areas constantly, no matter how many times Daryl clears them out, and these appearances can be instant. It seems these particular monsters are related to SCP-173, given their tendency to manifest from nowhere in the blink of an eye. It's not uncommon to be blindsided by a walker that literally wasn't there two seconds before, or for the player to walk forward, turn around, and suddenly see several zombies in a spot that was totally empty. It is through broken elements like this that Survival Instinct falsifies any sense of danger in a game where one would otherwise feel sorry for the gurgling, ineffectual, slow-even-by-zombie-standards opposition.  This is to say nothing of the laughable A.I. As well as standing ready to absorb attacks, ghouls frequently get stuck on scenery or attempt to walk through gaps too small for them. If surrounded by a large amount of zombies, it's usually easy to hop onto a table or vehicle and just cut their heads off while they crowd around, arms outstretched, like mournful orphans asking for more porridge. Even when no elevation is in sight, one can escape a crowd by letting them initiate a grapple attack, one by one. When grappling, players get to one-hit-kill a zombie with a simple quick-time event, and can power out of a large crowd by getting into this grapple over and over again while the surrounding creatures stand helplessly in line for their turn.  Although there are firearms, as noted, using them is too much trouble for the zombies they attract. Firearms feel basic to the point where they could have appeared in any number of mediocre games from the past ten years, and ammo is so scarce I found myself constantly discarding guns in exchange for more health pickups or melee weapons. Late in the campaign, Daryl gets access to his iconic crossbow, which allows silent kills and retrievable bolts, but is a pain to use, and looks goofy due to what appear to be unfinished firing animations.  Between missions, players get to select their next destination, and need enough gas to get there. Should the fuel run out, a new mission appears in which more must be collected. That's not the only interruption, either. At several points between mission locations, the car may break down and require a part to be scavenged, or an area containing extra supplies could be discovered. While this adds a potential element of dynamism to the adventure, the end result is mostly just annoying, as having to stop every so often to wander around the same limited pool of locations is tiring. It's also incredibly predictable, as you always know when they're coming -- if you hear dialog spoken during the transition from mission to mission, you won't need to stop. If you don't, you will. The choose-your-own-adventure structure is at least a nice idea, especially when you get to choose how you drive from A to B (taking different routes will change your fuel consumption and the likelihood of a breakdown), but it's rudimentary and lacking in anything more compelling than selecting from a basic menu.  As you may have guessed already, the game is a graphical mess. Several animations look like placeholders, everything's jaggy and lacking in detail, while the physics make very little sense, with objects and limbs flying in wacky directions at the slightest provocation. Even worse is the sound, however, which adheres to no known physical logic. Regularly, zombies that are yards away make noises that sound like they're inches behind one's neck, and threatening screams can be heard from directions where no enemies are present. Relying on sound to get any sense of where danger lies soon turns out to be a fool's tactic.  For Christ's sake, the game's opening cinematic has visible Windows cursors hovering in the corner! The lack of attention to quality is so self-evident, a review can do little to damn a game that so blatantly condemns itself.  There's not much else to say about The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct because there's not much of a game there. The campaign is insultingly brief and, unless you were unlucky enough to pre-order it, there are no other modes. Gameplay is embryonic at best, nonsensical at worst, and the whole thing is ugly as sin. Although the whole thing starts off almost bad enough to be funny, the parade of genuinely promising ideas that soon turn out unfinished (or barely started) transforms a potential comedy into a tragedy of lost potential.  It's easy to believe Terminal Reality had the skeleton in place for a unique and enthralling take on the Walking Dead franchise, but with a deadline looming, added absolutely nothing to the bones and tossed out something woefully undercooked. Survival Instinct clearly isn't finished, and has no business expecting money from any paying customer. It's the kind of hurried, jury-rigged game that risks dealing damage to a property -- an especially sour note considering all the excellent work achieved by Telltale's The Walking Dead. By contrast to 2012's adventure game, Survival Instinct cashes in all the property's goodwill to churn out a botched, incomplete, hideous little waste of time and energy.  Merlenderl, in a game. What can be better? Most things, it turns out. Most things. 
Walking Dead SI review photo
Don't open, dead inside
"Merlenderl, in a game, what can be better than that?" mumbled The Walking Dead actor Michael Rooker, in a voice that betrayed a man who could easily recall a dozen things better than Survival Instinct. The brief trailer, in ...


The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct review coming soon

Mar 20
// Jim Sterling
In the meantime, enjoy this hastily taken shot of the intro cinematic. This is running on a retail Xbox 360. Yes, that's a PC mouse cursor just sat there in the corner.  Excuse the low quality of the pictures. Very much like the game, they were clearly made in a hurry! Look for our full review coming soon.

Walking Dead: Survival Instinct pre-order DLC revealed

Herd Mode and Amazon Walker Execution Pack
Feb 07
// Jim Sterling
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is getting downloadable content in the form of a "Herd Mode" game type and "Amazon Walker Execution Pack." They'll be available to those who pre-order the game from GameStop and Amazon resp...


Walking Dead: Survival Instinct finally gets real trailer

Was it worth the wait?
Feb 07
// Jim Sterling
Activision's tried to put it off for as long as possible, but has finally released a real gameplay trailer for The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. Now the day's finally arrived, I don't even know what to say. In all honesty...

The DTOID Show: Cyberpunk 2077, Fallout, & The Razer Edge

Jan 11
// Max Scoville
Hey gang, welcome to the party. And by "party" I mean "Destructoid Show." I'm sincerely sorry for any confusion I might have caused by referring to it as a "party." Today, we talked about a Fallout-related Tweet. Then, the to...

The DTOID Show: The Walking Dead, Bioshock & Evil Patents

Man, I forgot we even had a show.
Jan 04
// Max Scoville
Happy New Year! We're back, and boy did we miss you! We have a lot of news today, starting with that semi-legit fan-trailer of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct that probably made it look a lot worse that it'll actually be....

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct trailer is ... hmmmm

Jan 02 // Jim Sterling
Oh. Looks like I wasn't wrong about the screen tearing.
Walking Dead: SI footage photo
Footage of first-person zombie spin-off fails to impress
[Update: This is a not an official trailer by Activision or Terminal Reality. Rather, it's a fan made video of gameplay clips taken from an interview by IGN Start on the upcoming game.] The Terminal Reality-developed The Wal...

Preview: AMC's The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

Dec 26 // Alessandro Fillari
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed])Developer: Terminal RealityPublisher: ActivisionRelease: 2013 The developers at Terminal Reality (Ghostbusters: The Video Game) were excited to be able to work on a zombie game, and they were even more delighted to work on a title for a series like The Walking Dead. Players will take on the role of fan favorite from the TV series, Daryl Dixon. Glenn Gamble, system designer at Terminal Reality, felt that Daryl was the obvious choice for the player character. “He seemed like the natural choice," Glenn told me. "He’s better suited for survival and what we wanted to go for." Taking place during the beginning of the outbreak, Daryl and his brother, Merle, must band together with other survivors and make it through hordes of walkers as they travel across Georgia looking for safety. The developers felt that this unexplored time frame would allow them to grow and flesh out Daryl‘s past with his brother Merle. To stay consistent with the TV series, Terminal Reality and the writers of the show collaborate often and brainstorm ideas on how to shed light on the duo's history. Moreover, Daryl and Merle are both fully voiced and performed by their respective actors (Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker) from the TV series. “They were really happy to be doing it,” Gamble recalled of one of the recording sessions with the actors. Our presentation began with the “Lemon Hill” level of the game. In this stage, Daryl and Merle head into an overrun town to reunite with Merle’s biker gang. To do so, they need to clear out the undead and gather as much supplies as possible. Prior to this, the developers selected the mission at the player hub, which is basically the character’s vehicle with his supplies, such as maps and weapons, scattered across the hood of your current vehicle (the characters are always on the move, of course.) When interacting with the map, players can chart out their course and check their progress, and selecting the knife will start the mission. Like many recent zombie games, Survival Instinct emphasizes the survival horror gameplay over pure action. Daryl will be able to take advantage of melee weapons, firearms, and even his crossbow to take down walkers. Since it emphasizes survival, you will have to take several things into account before engaging hostiles: resources are limited, the undead come in large numbers, and you’re almost always alone. To survive, you have to play smart and be cautious of  your surroundings. Running in guns blazing will only result in a quick death. Walkers are easily attracted to noise -- “human noises” as the developers put it -- such as gun fire, bottles breaking, humans running by them, etc. Fortunately, you can take advantage of this by luring the horde away from your objectives, and baiting lone zombies towards you for quick stealth kills. Creating tension and maintaining atmosphere was a key focus for Terminal Reality, they even went as far as making the FOV (field of view) appear closer to give the impression that walkers are invading your personal space in order to heighten the tension further. On the surface, and when looking at early pictures, it doesn’t seem to be as dense as described, but there’s much more to this game than it appears. One of the major elements of Survival Instinct is player choice. As you progress through the game, you will be able to pick your routes, which will ultimately determine which levels you’ll explore. While there will be some levels that are mandatory for narrative purposes, a good chunk of stages are optional, and everyone’s playthrough of the game won’t be exactly alike. Another feature that the developers were keen to talk about were the road events. While traveling between waypoints (large levels), the game will prompt you with a randomized side mission that will task you with such objectives as raiding an abandoned farm, searching a sheriff station, or clearing out debris on a highway. Though you can ignore these events, it’s recommended that you attempt them when you are low on resources. Of course, there’s always a risk when engaging in these side missions. While you can acquire more supplies and resources, you leave yourself vulnerable to attack. Though it wasn’t shown in the demo build, a major part of the game will be banding together with fellow survivors on your trek through Georgia. During missions with Daryl, players can meet other survivors in the field and bring them back to safety after completion. Unfortunately, the amount of survivors you can have is limited by the amount of seats in your vehicle. Eventually, you’ll either have to cut someone loose or decline a request for admittance from a survivor. When your group is a manageable size, you take advantage of the extra hands by sending them out on tasks. Similar to games like Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, the player will be able to assign individual survivors with their own unique objectives while the player is out in the field such as gathering supplies, collecting gear, and even finding more survivors. There is a risk, however. If the mission proves to be too difficult for them, or if you give them weak gear for their assignment, then there’s the possibility of them never making it back alive. This creates an interesting risk/reward system. Should you risk your survivor and supplies for the possibility of getting a greater income of supplies? The choice is up to you. Though it’s very early and a long way from release, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct seems like a game with a lot of great ideas that’s backed with wildly popular mythology. With that said, the journey itself looks to be an exciting and clever prospect. There’s an enthusiastic respect for the series on the part of Terminal Reality, and their excitement about the game is very reassuring. 
The Walking Dead Preview photo
It's more survival than running and gunning
It’s been an exciting year for The Walking Dead. The comic series reached its 100th issue, the TV series has hit its stride in the current season, and Telltale Games’ adventure title has broken new ground for stor...


Activision's The Walking Dead Comic-Con swag is so gross

Jul 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
No, seriously. Look! The first 100 fans that pre-order The Walking Dead at Activision's booth during San Diego Comic-Con this week will get a necklace of zombie ears. So gross! Oh, and in case you missed it last week, Activis...

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