After the explosive two episode premiere of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, I was wondering where the series would go next. The twist at the end of the second episode really had me excited, and now we finally get to see it continue. Does Above the Law continue the high quality, or should it go back below the law?
Picking up where Ties That Bind Part 2 leaves off, Above the Law starts with Javier discovering an important twist: his brother David runs The New Frontier. With Kate injured and one or two members of your group (depending on your choices) dead, the remaining survivors must try to strike a deal with the gang and get the supplies they need. Things aren't quite as they seem as soon a conspiracy is discovered inside The New Frontier itself. Lines are drawn, groups are formed, and Javier needs to decide who's worth siding with and who he needs to leave behind.
I really love where Above the Law is taking the story, but it hasn't quite gotten there yet. The episode spends a lot of time setting up the big moments of the next two episodes, yet because of that it lacks big moments of its own. There's no shocking reveals, major deaths, huge fights, or major character development moments for the majority of the main cast. A couple characters, mostly Clementine with a bit of Conrad, get some nice moments. In fact, I'd actually stop and say that Above the Law suffers from having way too many characters it wants me to care about. Interesting characters like Kate, Gabe, and Eleanor spend almost the entire episode off-camera. On the other hand, I'm supposed to care about characters like Max (who is just totally unlikable and barely has a personality), Ava (who gets a lot of screen time despite having maybe 10 lines total), and Jesus (who is actually a fantastic character but because he's in the comics nothing happens to him).
It's a bit of a shame that the story is spread so thin, because when it works, it really works. The episode opens with a flashback to before Javier and his family hit the road. This moment is great, showing the family slowly working their way through the house and trying to determine what mattered most to them and was worth taking when they leave. Seeing Javier pick up his old baseball bat and autographed baseball, one of the last souvenirs of his old life as a professional baseball player, and consider bringing it for just a few moments before carefully putting it back was genuinely a heartbreaking event. Little moments like this still deliver the kind of emotional punch expected from The Walking Dead.
Most of the combat is contained in the middle of the episode, with the survivor's trip to a storage depot serving as an excuse to smack zombies around. While Javier doesn't do much impressive stuff on his own, I did appreciate getting to see the comic's hand-to-hand combat badass Jesus unleashed. A later encounter with a couple of raiders did serve as the highlight. Javier was a baseball player, so when he picks up a baseball bat, you know things are going to get good. Javier chasing a raider through a storage facility with a bat was vaguely humorous, but quickly takes a darker tone once he catches the guy. It may not have as many highlights as the two episode premier, but Telltale sure has gotten an eye for choreography now.
When it comes to Telltale's technical jank, the good news continues from the first two episodes as there's no stuttering, slow downs, or audio errors. My lone problem was a single hard crash in the middle of the episode, but it happened seconds after a new scene loaded so I lost no progress at all. I'm dreaming of the day I no longer need to include a paragraph about Telltale jank in their games, and I'm hoping that by the end of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, I'll finally be able to drop it. Until then, all you need to know is that Above the Law continues to not have issues.
Now at the halfway point, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier has hit some really exciting moments. Unfortunately, most of them aren't in Above the Law. It has some absolutely fantastic set up for what's going to happen in the last two episodes, features a fun fight, and still has some great little moments. It just lacks the big stuff I've come to expect.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 3: Above the Law was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on Xbox One, PC, iOS, and Android.
Above the Law is a perfectly good episode with a few great quiet moments. It just lacks the oomph that the first two episodes brought and is being dragged down by a far too large cast of characters.
- Story's Little Moments are Great
- Set-Up is Good
- Jesus Kicks Ass
- Way Too Many Characters
- No Big Story Moments