Why we've lost faith in Survival Instinct
Last month, Alessandro Fillari brought you a preview of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. I attended the event with Alessandro and we both thought there were some good ideas behind the project. A lot of work still needed to be done, though -- especially with the visuals. Developer Terminal Reality may have been able to make things work out alright if the game was releasing towards the end of this year.
As we found out today, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct will be coming out March 26, 2013 in North America for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U. Oh boy.
Remember that fan-made trailer we all thought was real? While it wasn't an official trailer, it was in fact put together using gameplay footage. It's the same exact gameplay we saw at our preview session less than a month ago. It's hard to have any hope at this stage when Survival Instinct is due out in less than three months.
Terminal Reality's principle effects artist Glenn Gamble took to Eurogamer asking fans to not judge Survival Instinct based on "old footage." He states that the team has "made big strides" since the footage that was released.
If that's the case, this is the point where I have to say prove it. Unfortunately, it seems like they've only gone ahead and affirmed my concerns that the game is going to be super rushed; the second trailer released for Survival Instinct is a 19-second video featuring actors Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus quickly promoting the game. Sigh.
Let's actually recap the history of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct for a second. On July 6, 2012, Activision announced its plans to make a Walking Dead game based on AMC's version of the story. A week later, Activsion went to San Diego Comic-Con where a small part of the publisher's booth featured the teaser trailer that didn't have any gameplay footage at all. Then, in August, I was given a PowerPoint presentation for the game at gamescom.
Towards the end of December 2012 is when we finally got to see real gameplay footage in-person at a hands-off preview. Several days later, that fan trailer was released, comprised of gameplay footage that was publicly shown in an interview with IGN Start.
And that brings us to the present, where Activision is just now announcing the Wii U version, with a second trailer featuring nothing but two actors talking about their roles, all three months before release.
I think I'm stating the obvious here when I say that none of this sounds good at all. Survival Instinct would have had a chance given several more months of development time. Given the state of how things are playing out, I'm getting nothing but feelings of déjà vu here.
You know what the real stinker is? Survival Instinct is most likely going to sell really well. The majority of the videogame-buying market doesn't pay attention to the online gaming scene. You people reading this are in the minority (still). AMC's The Walking Dead is one of the most-viewed shows on television right now, and it's that popularity that's going to get people to make impulse purchases once they see the game on store shelves.
Not to mention that Terminal Reality's version will be riding on the wave of success from Telltale's amazing efforts. Your average consumer won't know that there's two totally different Walking Dead games out on the market (three if you count the other iOS exclusive game). They're just going to hear that the Walking Dead game is great, unaware of the difference, and will end up being disappointed.
What a shame.