When I say that Telltale's the Walking Dead is a good game, that's doing it a disservice. It's a captivating story that will grip you and keep you on your toes waiting for what happens next. If you've played it on the PS3, Xbox360, or Steam before, you already know this. For those of you who haven't played it there yet, stop, and do that first before you go for this portable option.
A brief summary about the game before we get into why the Vita version shouldn't be your first outing of this game though. This game adapts to the choices you make. You say something harsh to another character, and come time when you need their help, you can be sure they'll remember your words from earlier, and may decide that you're not worth their effort. Throughout all 5 of the episodes, along with the content in the 400 Days bonus episode, the choices you make will affect the story. Something you said or did in Episode 1 could come back to surprise you. It's a game mechanic that could have gone wrong, but is executed perfectly. The 400 days add on is a 5 Chapter addition that has new faces for you to play as and is supposed to help merge the events of the Walking Dead Season One with the upcoming Season Two. It's good in it's own rights, but is either a hit or miss with people. I didn't care for it too much, but some friends of mine thought it was brilliant. Here on the Vita, it's the same beast. You'll either like it, or you won't care it's there.
Now for the downside of things. The gameplay constantly freezes before any kind of action sequence, and this can be especially frustrating if you haven't played this game before and don't already love the world and characters. The main game also will freeze at times for no reason, and if you try pausing at any point in the game, you may end up having to close out of the game entirely and then restart it. I had to do this 4 times during my playthrough of Episodes One through Five. If you need to pause this game ever, hit the PS button, or the Power Button.
Surprisingly, the 400 Days extra episode is not plagued by these issues, and only occasionally will it briefly pause before and action sequence. It played just as smoothly as the PS3 version and even though I don't care much for the smaller stories it told, it was the only portion of this game where I didn't find myself getting frustrated because of an overabundance pauses. It was a welcome change and I feel that it means when Season Two comes around, the Vita version will run smoother similar to the 400 Days episode.
When it comes to control options, you can play the game with touch controls akin to the iPad/ iPhone version, or you can play with standard controls. I personally would recommend standard, but for the sake of this review, I replayed Episodes One and Two to give a bit of insight on the touch controls. They work, but moving the camera around by swiping the screen can be somewhat disorienting at times, and though you can use the left analog stick to move your character around, it makes for a somewhat awkward way to hold the Vita. The action sequences were a bit easier as far as targeting goes, and when exploring with touch controls, there will be a little icon on all the different areas you can interact with. It's sort of an "easy mode" if you will. If you're wanting to change your control scheme during play, you'll have to pause and return to the main menu to switch. This is a bit of a pain if you're just wanting to figure out which control scheme works best for you, but it's not an issue once you decide how you want to play. The menus are all touch based which is fine, but I would have liked the ability to just use the buttons to navigate the menu. Not a huge gripe though as the menu functions perfectly fine with the touch interface.
I'm not telling you to avoid this game though, as it's still a great game. I'm just telling you that playing it on the Vita first would be a disservice to yourself. Experience this game on a home console or PC first, and then if you can't get enough of it and want to play it on the go, this version is still very fun. If you've already played one of these other versions though, by all means, pick this up. It's an easy platinum too for those trophy hunters out there. Just play through the game and you'll have the Platinum trophy. A suggestion? Play making decisions opposite of what you did on your first play through to see other parts of the game you may have missed. There's a lot to see in this game and a different side of the spectrum can be interesting. Example: on my PS3 play through, Kenny and I were buds until the end. On my Vita play through, he hated my guts at the end. It changed his dialog and the way others reacted to him as well.
Given the freezing issues, I'm giving this game an 8.0 overall. It's still a great game but will be best enjoyed if you've already experienced the story elsewhere. Hopefully this review helps some of you that may have been on the fence about this one. I loved the game my first time around, and found this port to be enjoyable still, even with it's issues. As always, you can find me here on IGN.