The Walking Dead EP18: Ninja Zombies

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jan 16, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 88 comments

Link (YouTube)

Check out Lee at the minute forty mark, where the game is daring enough to sell a joke entirely with body language and facial expression. I can’t remember the last time I saw a game try that.

At the end of the episode Chris points out how good the city looks. The framing of the city through the train window is really eye catching. Although, if you look back through the YouTube archives for this season, you can see that just about every video thumbnail looks like a hand-picked framegrab. I guess we have the strong cinematography of the game to thank for that. You’re always looking at a well-composed shot.

In keeping with tradition, here are my personal choices for Episode 3:



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88 thoughts on “The Walking Dead EP18: Ninja Zombies

  1. Protocol95 says:

    You know, Ben makes a remark in Episode 4 after learning that Crawford has fallen that every time a walker shows up the plan changes while the others believe it’s better than fighting the living. Considering all the ninja walkers i’m starting to side with Ben on this.

    1. Isy says:

      I honestly think the zombies are perfectly sapient and are just trolling the survivors. It’s the only way anything makes sense!

      1. Steve C says:

        The zombies all spent summer camp at the St John’s. It’s not a zombie plague, it’s zombies becoming one with nature and not wasting anything.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        The zombies are actually a hive mind that doesnt care how much of them it loses in order to get its entertainment.

  2. Deadpool says:

    “Imagine a game having the exact same song for every single battle…”

    That’s pretty funny while I’ve been humming “Reach Out to the Truth” all day long…

    1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      Depends on whether the song is any good. I liked the dynamic music of the Star Wars space fighter games, but I also really like the battle music from, say, Final Fantasy VII or Rome: Total War (oh, and the new music for the Roma Surrectum Mod is really good too -now if only I could get it to stop crashing after big battles…)

      1. KremlinLaptop says:

        Neverwinter Nights battle music. All I have to do is say it and I hear it in my head.

      2. StashAugustine says:

        Rome: Total War had awesome battle music. AoE 2 had pretty good music too, although that’s probably just nostalgia talking.

        1. Zukhramm says:

          You are not in the case of Age of Empires 2. It has great music and most of all, music that is meant to be in the background without being boring, something games too often fails at.

      3. Deadpool says:

        Of course, song quality is an issue. I just found it amusing because most jRPGs use the EXACT same song for every non-boss battle.

        Oh,and Josh made a Persona joke earlier in the episode. A series that does have pretty good battle music that plays in pretty much every battle…

        1. Ringwraith says:

          Golden made it so there’s two normal battle themes, with Time to Make History being used most of the time and Reach Out to the Truth used whenever you get the drop on an encounter.
          Mind you, Persona’s music is just really good all round, the previous one even used rap for its battles and that worked, somehow. A good battle track tends to alleviate battle fatigue, least I find it does, probably the reason I enjoyed battles in Final Fantasy XIII and Wild ARMs (5 in particular) so much.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      That’s what I was thinking. “You mean like, every JRPG ever.”

    3. Mogatrat says:

      Funnily enough, I accidentally ended up playing the entire game without music, and honestly I think it was better for it. It kept with the bleak tone and it never felt like the game was trying to force emotion on me — all that mattered were the events on the screen.

  3. Deadpool says:

    On the subject of the blowtorch, getting one up a ladder that high and tight would take some SERIOUS work…

    1. KremlinLaptop says:

      People this is why when you’re at the store before the quest starts you buy that 80 foot length of rope!

      (Also why I keep a few approx 80 foot lengths of paracord and other ropes, chains, etc in my truck at all times. Never know when you’re going to need to haul a blow torch and pressurized canister up high to cut down a tanker trailer.)

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Riiiight (slowly backs away from the truck).

        On a more serious note though, a simple animation of you tying up some rope (there’s bound to be SOME rope) to the thing and then seeing it being pulled up offscreen would solve the whole “is that a blowtorch in your pocket” issue.

  4. Isy says:

    The non-choice at the end of the episode felt really good when I played it. I took it as a Doug/Carley choice too and grabbed Omid because… well, I missed the implication Christa was pregnant and frankly Omid seemed like the weaker one in the relationship. Sorry Omid. It was only after they were both safely aboard that the logic kicked in – “Sure Omid, I’ll rescue your athletic, kick-ass girlfriend instead, because she clearly needed the help more than your short, crippled self.”

    (By weaker, I mean, “If I ditched Omid, Christa would shatter my jaw.”)

    I can understand why people didn’t like this part of the episode, but I really wanted to cheer when she caught up with us.

    1. Deadpool says:

      I’m a simple man. I grabbed Christa because she was behind Omid…

      1. krellen says:

        I grabbed Christa because I saw her first and intended to grab them both.

        1. Zukhramm says:

          Same. I didn’t even know it was I choice. I just saw a hand and clicked it.

            1. StashAugustine says:

              I clicked so fast I honestly don’t remember who I grabbed.

      2. Torsten says:

        I saw that choice as another point where you choose who gets to live and Christa felt like the more competent one and Omid already had a crippled leg so I thought Christa would be more useful for the group. It was a pleasant surprise they both survived.

    2. Indy says:

      I grabbed Omid because his leg was hurt. That made sense to me. He yelled at me because his girlfriend was falling behind. But she dug deep and came back. I really believed even after having my illusions shattered that not picking the cripple would mean he died. I didn’t really like that it didn’t matter here. I won’t complain too much because I like both these characters.

      1. Thomas says:

        Sadly this was the beginning of the end for me, I had huge amounts of guilt after so many people dying this episode and I was determined that it wouldn’t happen again so I kept reloading the bridge bit as soon as it happened to try to save Omid (I pushed him the first time) and then with the Christa/Omid I kept reloading before the cutscene played out because I was terrified of the auto save.

        I assumed because Omid was hurt and Christa wasn’t that you could chose Omid and have both survive or save Christa and Omid doesn’t make it.

        I didn’t actually discover it here, but the event made me start save scumming which immediately undoes the next dramatic thing to happen in Ep 4.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I grabbed omid because I pushed him,and felt so bad about it.I simply couldnt have him on my conscience.Then I was so relieved that christa survived as well.Its an excellent thing to set up this choice mechanic,and then subvert it like this.

    4. newdarkcloud says:

      I think it’s interesting that no matter which one you choose, they will chastise you for choosing them over the other one.

      (For the record, I saved Christa, then felt bad and reloaded to save Omid.)

    5. John the Savage says:

      I took too long, and didn’t grab either of them (there’s no indication that this is a timed decision, and I froze, thinking this was a Carly/Doug decision). They both just jumped in and called me an asshole for not helping them.

  5. That New Guy says:

    Am I the only one that didn’t like Christa upon meeting her? While she got better in the next two episodes, she came across as a replacement for Lilly. The way she talked to Lee and how she asked questions gave the impression that she was just going to be a new antagonist to hamper the group.

    1. czhah says:

      I was initially rather suspicious of her and her behaviour, especially her remarks Lee’s parenting skills, certainly didn’t help. I warmed up to her later on, though.

      1. Zombie says:

        I’ll be completely honest, when they start making those comments about Clem, I thought Omid was more, ummm….., inclined towards children then adults. So I was shocked when it turned out I liked them in Episode 4 & 5.

    2. Jokerman says:

      She was really off with you at first, not very trusting. I warmed to her also….but i did think while making the last choice that i was sending her to her death, she was kind of lucky :D

      1. StashAugustine says:

        As a couple people pointed out last episode, Lee and co. are oddly trusting of Omid and Christa. So it all balances out.

        1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

          Given that I wanted a “hand on gun” option when meeting them, I was willing to forgive a bit of paranoia and distrust. They come around quick enough,

        2. KremlinLaptop says:

          In fairness Kenny still reacts like Kenny when you meet Omid and Christa; he’s reaching for his pistol and Lee stops him.

          After that… who’s left? The ones in the old group who were really suspicious of everything were Lilly and Larry. Doug or Carley might have been cautious around strangers. Ben is just being Ben and keeping watch, I would imagine Kenny is just still so caught up thinking about Katjaa and Duck that beyond the initial reaction… well he has a lot to think about?

    3. Isy says:

      She does have things in common with Lily, and she can be a bit rough, but you meet her in a nice quiet area – unlike Lily, who started off screaming at the people who saved your lives, then backing up her rude, psychotic father. Christa only really gets snippy on two occasions: if you pry into her personal business (yes Lee, you want to know her baggage) and when she runs into you using Clementine as your sidekick Robin. A lot of her harsh comments are concerned with Clem’s safety, which I think people sympathize with.

      I feel like her oddly harsh comment on guns was her mentally thinking, “That’s horrible! No, wait, that’s smart. Ugh.” Especially when you consider she might be having her own child to raise in this crappy world.

    4. newdarkcloud says:

      I was suspicious of her at first, but as we started talking a began to warm up to them. I like that Christa has the harshness of Lilly without the baggage of having and annoying father she has to constantly stick up for.

      I also like how she and Lee bond over the mutual desire to protect Clementine.

    5. BeardedDork says:

      When she first snipped at Kenny I thought, “Oh good just when I was starting to miss the Lilly/Kenny dynamic,” face-palm. Then I was relieved when she turned out different.

  6. drkeiscool says:

    I know it’s really late, and vaguely off topic, but Lee can call the walkers “zombies” in Episode 1. In the pharmacy, if you try to open the door without keys.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I think someone in the comments pointed it out in that episode and Shamus mentioned it later in another episode.

      1. Jokerman says:

        I really don’t understand how they let that one through, maybe it was deliberate.

        1. anaphysik says:

          There’s at least one use of ‘zombie’ in E4, though it’s in the tooltips.

        2. Soylent Dave says:

          They call them zombies all the time in the comic (they come up with ‘walkers’ after several issues, but it’s to distinguish between types of zombie, as they think that some don’t seem to walk about very much)

  7. Hitchmeister says:

    Obviously Lee has the standard issue RPG backpack (I really should bookmark that so I don’t have to go hunting for it every time I link it).

    Also, the way Omid is hobbling after falling off the train, he’s going to be walker chow in few steps if you don’t help him. Christa jumped off the train confident in her ability to make it back.

  8. drkeiscool says:

    I find it funny that you can “help” Omid by pushing him off the bridge and indirectly breaking his leg.

    1. Guvnorium says:

      Yeah… I did that on my playthrough.

      1. Jokerman says:

        Me too…. didn’t know he messed up his leg anyway for a while.

    2. Zukhramm says:

      I was tired of the “zombies are coming and someone’s refusing to move”-scenes at that point, and with the length of the episode tired in general.

  9. KremlinLaptop says:

    To my mind the massive horde of zombies following the train was incredibly logical.

    It’s been a few months and it’s safe to assume by now the majority of things out in the world that would cause noise and attract zombies have died. Then suddenly? A friggin’ train blows past. Trains are loud. The tracks vibrate.

    It’s like a huge dinner bell. Made sense to me.

    1. czhah says:

      I was actually kind of worried that the train might be dragging a horde of Walkers into a city with a significant number of survivors, resulting in their deaths. Luckily this turned out not to be the case.

      1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

        Only because the survivors are stupid.

      2. X2-Eliah says:

        But isn’t the train still dragging that horde? That fire definitely didn’t seem to do any good whatsoever, so the Zeds are still shambling after the train.

        1. Nick says:

          I’m assuming from your comment that you’ve not played the game, so here’s the answer in shiny spoiler tags:

          Yes, yes it is. The walking dead canon has ‘herds’ composed of walkers who heard a noise and started to walk towards it. Another walker sees a walker moving with purpose and follows. Another joins, and another. The initial noise may now be completely irrelevant, the person evaded the horde – but they keep on going until they hear a new noise, sucking up any stray walkers from the area

          With the train, the noise is going in a straight line. So basically you’re dragging a massive herd to Savannah. This doesn’t really come up until near the end of the game though…

          1. X2-Eliah says:

            Ah, Okay. Thanks for the info :)

          2. Torsten says:

            So we could speculate what would happen if the rails made a turn, or if you were driving a car on a twisty road. Would the zombies just continue on a straight line?

            1. Abnaxis says:

              My first instinct would be to say “no,” because in my experience of being around railroad track in the southern united states, either side of the track has dense foliage in the way. It’s a lot easier for the leaders to follow the path of least resistance on the tracks and the stragglers that overflow off the tracks will follow the leaders.

    2. Jokerman says:

      I clicked to this right away, not once did i think there was any other reason – i think Shamus just missed this one.

  10. StashAugustine says:

    Welcome to Savannah, gentlemen.

    1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      You known, it occurs to me: two Civil War buffs wandering into Atlanta dragging a massive army of Zombies along -and no one makes a Sherman’s March to the Sea joke.

      Heroic reserve, there, guys.

    2. drkeiscool says:

      That wouldn’t happen to be a video game reference, would it?

  11. Spammy says:

    I liked the fake out choice at the end between Omid and Christa. It sort of felt like the writers winking and nodding to their own work and the earlier choice, and I actually found it funny to watch Omid’s reaction to you saving him only to have Christa easily climb back in the train. Instead of another difficult choice to drag the end of the episode down we got a somewhat funny bit that messes with the “CHOOSE WHO LIVES OR DIES” choices the game is so fond of.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Although the pop-up does immediately subvert the choice (“you chose to save Omid *first*”).

  12. X2-Eliah says:

    I liked when Shamus mentioned, somewhere around the 18m mark, that he was just enjoying to see the game again. That’s basically what this season is like for me (though I have not played TWD myself) – I just really enjoy seeing how the game unfolds and the stuff that happens. And, er, it’s really nice and interesting.

    So, um, great season and great game choice. Thanks for choosing to go with this, guys.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      It’s a particular refreshing season after the last one…

      1. LunaticFringe says:

        Watching the last season was brutal. Everything I disliked about the game was dug up again after repressing the memories for a couple months. Eventually the whole thing just devolved into a depressed slog through the game, you could really see how most of the Spoiler Warning cast was sick of talking about it. I’m really glad they finished with a resigned apathy to the ending, because at this point that’s really what it deserves.

    2. czhah says:

      Yeah, the show is always at is best when the hosts have something other than repetitive combat mechanics to comment on and are actually enjoying themselves so the narrative focus of this game really fits the format and brings out the best in them. Competent writing on the game’s part propably doesn’t hurt, either. So a great season so far, definitely one of my favorites.

  13. Thomas says:

    I’m surprised no-one complained about putting down the wrench so that there’d be tension in the zombie fight. You said it was so you can#t just open the gate, but that wasn’t the reason because you could just have smashed open the first door and they didn’t let you.

    It was purely so Lee didn’t have a weapon when zombies attacked. I refused for a while because I knew zombies would attack as soon as I put the weapon down and sure enough.

    …considering this is my favourite episode I’m complaining a lot

    1. Doctor Broccoli says:

      Yeah, I consider that to be one of the worst parts of the entire game. I wrote a short rant about this in another post. I REALLY hated how the game suddenly pulled out this “It’s totally dark in here, you can’t do anything until you get light.” kind of railroading.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        This was an awful scene. I’m just glad that scenes like this are in the minority. I think we’d be harsher if this was a case of a certain other game where cutscene stupidity was the norm.

        1. zob says:

          I'm just glad that scenes like this are in the minority.

          I disagree. Just think about how many stupid stuff has been pointed out so far.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I just have to ask you to provide examples of these poor moments.

            1. zob says:

              I don’t want to copy paste every criticism I made in the previous episodes so let’s keep it simple and go with this ones title Ninja zombies

              Ninja zombies are the epitome of cutscene stupidity. Zombies are not sneaky hunters they are shambling moaning walking corpses. Unless you are blind, deaf and missing your olfactory sense you can’t miss them.

              Let me list some of the “tense” moments that had ninja zombies. Woman in Clem’s house flanks Lee; Both Duck and Shawn blindsided by them during Duck/Shawn choice. Women eaten by zombies bitten in ankle by a ninja zombie (that was invisible moments before). Extremely well positioned Bandits who managed to roll up our group in minutes flanked by them. One those ninja zombies took cover and dash through the gunfire to bite Duck. And then there is one materializing out of thin air in this episode.

              1. Khizan says:

                -End of Ep 4 spoiler:A ninja zombie hid in the trashcan and bit Lee.

                -Ninja zombies in the train station with Clem.

                Hell. Just thinking about it, I’m tempted to get out a notebook and replay the game, so I can note down all the bullshit ninja zombies.

    2. zob says:

      I wrote about it but Internet ate it when I tried to post. Didn’t bother to write it again. Besides I criticized this game so much. It feels like I’m beating a dead horse now.

      1. zob says:

        And for some reason my avatar is different now.

        edit: it was the email adress.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You may laugh,but confederate zombies are a real threat.Having someone who knows how to fight them is crucial.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh hey,new errant signal just after the new spoiler warning,and not a full day after new Josh plays.Its like christmas again!

    1. Dasick says:

      A lot of points Chris makes in his ErrantSignal videos are actually similar to what a certain Keith Burgun states in his blog and book.

  16. Steve C says:

    Chris asks about the timing between these events and when Duck is shot at the 14:35 mark. It has been 2 hours since Kenny’s family died. Lee says that to Omid when they first meet and introductions are made.

  17. Wulfgar says:

    did you noticed that there are less conversations while doing stuff (like in episode 1). more conversations are in “shot-reverse shot” format.

  18. Abnaxis says:

    In his rant about plot holes Film Crit Hulk talked about the Tyrannosaurus scene in Jurassic Park working despite there being no conceivable way the T-Rex could climb the sheer cliff to get there.

    I wonder if zombie ninjas are supposed to be the same way, they’re just used SO MUCH we’re sensitized to them? We probably wouldn’t even notice if this was the first zombie media we were exposed to, or maybe we would have called foul on Spielberg if there were more dinosaur horror films…

    1. Thomas says:

      I thought the idea more was that if the film had got you engaged and caught up in it then you’d be too busy having fun to notice them (well I think it was more that they’re unrelated to how engaged you are but you notice them if the film has failed to be engaging and so people tend to confuse them with the reasons that makes films unengaging).. rather than if you’re used to it or not.

      EDIT: For example he mentions the car chase in Indiana Jones cheating a lot too, and we’ve had plenty of films with car chases

      1. Abnaxis says:

        That’s what I’m trying to say. We are supposed to be so engaged (because the foreshadowing and dread leading up to zombie attack) that we don’t consider the implications behind there being a zombie in the first place, giving the writer more freedom to frame the scene to enhance the attack.

        The problem is, ninja zombies have become so trite that they pull viewers out of immersion when they’re used, raising the “engaged enough” threshold much higher than it is for something more novel, like a tyrannosaurus attack. I’m willing to bet less genre-savvy viewers get much more enjoyment out of scenes like the one in the station than the SW crew did.

  19. Ryan says:

    silly Rutskarn, NO WOMEN IN ZONE


  20. Vegedus says:

    I’m surprised the majority didn’t leave behind Lilly. Yeah, it’s harsh and pretty much guaranteed death, but… From an emotional standpoint, it makes sense, Lee as well as the player should be pretty pissed at her. While from a logical stand point, it also makes sense, as the group can’t really afford to have someone that unstable around.

    Or maybe I just had a bit of a crush on Carley too and really disliked her for that.

    1. Khizan says:

      My Lee kind of had a thing for Carley, going by the dialogue, and so had there been an option to gun her down outside the RV, I’d have taken it. He’s already killed over ‘his’ woman once, after all.

      What I couldn’t bring myself to do, though, was leave somebody behind to get devoured by walkers. I let the woman in the motel shoot herself. I shot the woman outside the drugstore. And I took Lilly with me, because the alternative was letting her be eaten alive.

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