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Old 11-22-2012, 07:40 PM   #1
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The Illusion of Choice (Spoilers)

Warning: This thread discusses some of the major decisions made by Lee and consequences of said decisions in the game. If you don't want to read about any spoilers LEAVE THIS THREAD NOW! You have been warned...

While I greatly enjoyed TellTale's "The Walking Dead" game, I have to admit that after finishing up the final episode of Season 1, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of variety in the consequences of the choices (both minor and major) you made throughout the game. Leading up to the release of the game, the main selling point that was emphasized about this game (by the developers) was that you had to make choices that would help shape the outcome of the story. Hell, every chapter starts off by saying:

"This game series adapts to the choices you make. The story is tailored by how you play."

After playing the first chapter, you really felt like maybe that statement could hold up, and that everyone who plays that game would end up with a different experience. It was great talking to my friends about what choices I made like who I sided with, or who I chose to save, and what our reasons for making those decisions were. However, by the end up chapter 3, it just felt like none of the choices really mattered, because it all led to the same end goal regardless of who you sided with, or who you chose to save or kill. I'll list an example from each episode (again, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD):

Episode 1: It didn't really matter if you saved Carley or Doug at the end of episode 1, because either way, they both would have been shot by Lilly by episode 3. I felt like this was a cheap way of diminishing what was suppose to be a major decision, especially since this was the first time that you (as the player) had to make a decision that actually shaped the look of your crew of survivors.

Episode 2: Regardless of whether you wanted to save him or not, Larry still ends up dying in episode 2 (either by your hands, or by Kenny's). Was he just having a minor heart attack that he could have recovered from? We'll never know even IF you chose to try and resuscitate him and give him a chance.

Episode 3: I think the game could have changed drastically at this point if the developers allowed you to go with Lilly and take the RV to who-knows-where. However, even if you side with her and want to go with her, she still ends up ditching you and you still end up taking the train with Kenny and the rest of the survivors.

Episode 4: What was suppose to be the ultimate build-up of your choices made nearly no difference at the end. I'm of course referring to how many of the survivors chose to go with you and who decided to abandon you because of your earlier choices by the end of episode 4. This is because you end up meeting up with them again anyways in episode 5. Also choosing to save or let Ben die didn't matter either because in...

Episode 5: Ben ends up dying regardless (lol but screw that guy). Kenny also ends up dying regardless of any of the decisions you make throughout the whole game (although the way Kenny died if you still have Ben in your group is alot better than if you let Ben die in episode 4 but the outcome is still the same). Also, choosing to cut off your arm yielded no apparent difference (which makes me fearful about Hershel's chances) since you end up dying regardless.

Ultimately, the game ended up being alot more linear than what it was made out to be. Sure, some of the paths were different, but it all led to the same destination regardless of every little choice you made. There were no real major choice that changed the outcome of the story, which was disappointing given how much the game made you wanted to believe that it was going to be the case. The people who were meant to die, died regardless of whatever choices you made, and there wasn't really anything you could have done to change that. I know this was an arcade game so we should not have expected it to be like Heavy Rain (with having multiple endings that were drastically different from each other depending on who lived or died), but I still felt like the developers could have put in some more effort to make everyone's experiences feel a little bit different. Hopefully for Season 2 they'll have a bigger budget to do so (as I'm sure that was one of the reasons for this apparent illusion of choice).

What do you guys think?
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:21 PM   #2
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i agree, would've been nice if at least some of the deaths were preventable. i realise at the cost of telling a good story there has to be some things set in stone, but the fact that in everybodys game Lee is dead (or a walker), Kenny and Ben are dead, doug and carly are dead chuck is dead, leaving only Christa & Omid is kind of a bummer. i loved playing them all no question, but would've been nice if there were a few more things in the world we could actually shape. i think Molly is the only preventable death in the series....and you never see her after her episode anyway so she might as well be dead
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:42 AM   #3
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I think you raise some very good points, I was really let down by Episode 5 in particular, when I rejoined those that had left me in ep. 4. I realised the choices were not major when Doug/Carley died. I would love Season 2 to be much bigger, maybe starting with a choice to head for a city or countryside for example. How cool would it have been to have had that kind of choice this time round, with a choice to get in the RV or the Train? That would definitely encourage me to replay the game, as I currently have no desire to play through again, to get exactly the same ending.
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Old 11-24-2012, 03:23 PM   #4
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This sounds alot like Mass Effect 3 ending complaining to me. Just enjoy the game for what it is. The ending was fine. They didn't need to make 20 different outcomes. The whole point of Walking Dead and Mass Effect was creating your own unique journey through the game, not crafting a specialized ending.
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Old 11-24-2012, 07:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by the ferenczy View Post
This sounds alot like Mass Effect 3 ending complaining to me. Just enjoy the game for what it is. The ending was fine. They didn't need to make 20 different outcomes. The whole point of Walking Dead and Mass Effect was creating your own unique journey through the game, not crafting a specialized ending.
Saying it like that i have to agree with you. Personally i saw how the game was gonna end coming from miles away. And although at around EP 3 i figured out the choises i made didn't matter that much no other game has made me feel ACTUAL emotions while playing.
Man, when Kenny didn't go with me at the end of EP 4 i was PISSED! I thought i sided with him enough to earn his trust, hell when we were sitting in the attic and that whole bonding moment was there i actually decided to mend our relationship!
End the ending? I cried. There, i said it: i cried! I've come to love Clementine as if she was my own doughter. And when you ask her to leave you and she holds your hand as you tell her you'll miss her... pffffff, i broke up there..
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:22 PM   #6
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This sounds alot like Mass Effect 3 ending complaining to me. Just enjoy the game for what it is. The ending was fine. They didn't need to make 20 different outcomes. The whole point of Walking Dead and Mass Effect was creating your own unique journey through the game, not crafting a specialized ending.
Agreed. I feel that in the end, there was always going to be one ending (though with minor changes). It's just how you get to that ending that truly makes each playthrough different. Not to mention that the first time you play the game you have no clue what's going to happen.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:25 PM   #7
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well the ME3 ending was terrible regardless of choice so not sure how that has anything to do with this thread, but his point in this was despite it being a great game (one of the best i've played this year easy) is that being able to effect the outcome somewhat would have been nice
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:57 AM   #8
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What really makes the illusion of choice so prominent in this game is the internet, TBH. That and second playthroughs. Think about it: If you played through the game thinking your choices actually mattered and wondered what would happen had you done x instead of y it would feel a lot more realistic and you'd love the game a lot more.
For me, I never play games like this a second time or reload checkpoints because I like to believe my choice is set in stone and I have to live with it. I loved thinking that I could have actually saved Carley had I said or done something differently, but of course this was ruined as soon as I visited the internet.

Short version: I hate that the game has a cannon story, but would have been fine with that fact had I not known that.
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Old 11-26-2012, 06:00 PM   #9
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I thought the game did a great job of telling a linear story but giving you just enough illusion of choice to make you feel like it was "your" story. And of course it is an illusion, but one that holds up very well at least for the first playthrough.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:12 PM   #10
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Well said, I agree 100% with the original post. I felt the same way early on in the series, you could see right away that most decisions didn't change much of anything and you were constantly funneled in one direction. I loved the game and look forward to season two, hopefully they expand on the formula for the better. Another side note to your original post is that already low replay-value is basically non-existant when you factor in the illusion of choice.
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:19 PM   #11
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I'm going to be quite blunt here and say WTF do you expect for 400M$P?

Imagine how much extra time would have had to have been put in to make all the choices actually make a difference gameplaywise, but there should have been some extra branching, the way you meet up with everyone again in episode five is just sad, but I myself had everyone with me anyway.

But yeah if they had made all the choices truly matter outside of different dialogue the price would have probably doubled and we'd probably only be on about episode three by now.
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:40 PM   #12
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I'm going to be quite blunt here and say WTF do you expect for 400M$P?

Imagine how much extra time would have had to have been put in to make all the choices actually make a difference gameplaywise, but there should have been some extra branching, the way you meet up with everyone again in episode five is just sad, but I myself had everyone with me anyway.

But yeah if they had made all the choices truly matter outside of different dialogue the price would have probably doubled and we'd probably only be on about episode three by now.
Actually the full experience is twenty-five bucks and historically Telltale Games series have sold bundled with all episodes for twenty dollars. Both of the upcoming retail versions of The Walking Dead sell for thirty and seventy dollars, so yeah, your point has just been completely voided.
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Old 11-26-2012, 10:25 PM   #13
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This sounds alot like Mass Effect 3 ending complaining to me. Just enjoy the game for what it is. The ending was fine. They didn't need to make 20 different outcomes. The whole point of Walking Dead and Mass Effect was creating your own unique journey through the game, not crafting a specialized ending.
Could you really say that it was a unique journey if everyone's story led to the exact same consequences (essentially diminishing any and all choices you made throughout the game)? And I do think that the Mass Effect fans had a legitimate reason to complain about the ending of that game over this game, since the Walking Dead was just a 10-12 hour arcade game where the Mass Effect series was an entire trilogy spanning hundreds of hours that people played through with the hopes of seeing what drastic consequences their choices throughout all 3 games led up to.

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What really makes the illusion of choice so prominent in this game is the internet, TBH. That and second playthroughs. Think about it: If you played through the game thinking your choices actually mattered and wondered what would happen had you done x instead of y it would feel a lot more realistic and you'd love the game a lot more.
For me, I never play games like this a second time or reload checkpoints because I like to believe my choice is set in stone and I have to live with it. I loved thinking that I could have actually saved Carley had I said or done something differently, but of course this was ruined as soon as I visited the internet.

Short version: I hate that the game has a cannon story, but would have been fine with that fact had I not known that.
Well to be fair, you didn't HAVE to look online to read about these spoilers (about what would have happened if you chose "Y" instead of "X"), and you already said that you wouldn't have gone through the game again to see what would have happened had you made those choices. However, I think that even if you didn't do these things, you still would have known what would have happened if you talked about it with a friend and discussed your choices with them (after all, that is kind of the whole point about playing a game that supposedly gives you "choices" to make). I suppose if you really isolated yourself from any possible spoilers about the other choices, your enjoyment of the game might be greater, but that's only because ignorance is bliss :P

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I'm going to be quite blunt here and say WTF do you expect for 400M$P?

Imagine how much extra time would have had to have been put in to make all the choices actually make a difference gameplaywise, but there should have been some extra branching, the way you meet up with everyone again in episode five is just sad, but I myself had everyone with me anyway.

But yeah if they had made all the choices truly matter outside of different dialogue the price would have probably doubled and we'd probably only be on about episode three by now.
I feel that I already addressed this point in my original post when I said:

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I know this was an arcade game so we should not have expected it to be like Heavy Rain (with having multiple endings that were drastically different from each other depending on who lived or died), but I still felt like the developers could have put in some more effort to make everyone's experiences feel a little bit different.
It's like I said before, I understand that this was an arcade game and to expect the same level of effort put into this game as something like Heavy Rain or Mass Effect 3 would have been ludicrous. My issue was that they really tried to push the idea on the consumers that our choices actually shaped the story. That basically raised our expectations about the final product when really, most of the changes were merely face swaps or minor animation changes. Again, I don't want to seem like I'm hating on the game or anything. I really do feel like this was one of the best games of the year. I'm merely pointing out my only complaint in the hopes that they can address it for future seasons.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:59 PM   #14
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I kind of agree b/c it's what I would've wanted as well, a true choice-consequence factor but you also have to remember, it's a linear experience to begin with. It's based off the franchise and while it follows it's own path, it can't ultimately remain open-ended. They WOULD have to write a whole new "path" should you choose to take the RV (i haven' finished Ep 3 yet) and I can understand that. They ARE going to want to milk this which is why I'm sure they opted for another season. Hopefully they realize what a cash-cow it is and will adjust this for the second season.

I certainly don't think it deserved GOTY.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:20 AM   #15
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I think it did a great job presenting you with the power of choice even though the major plot points play out the same way to matter what. For the most part the choices you make have more of an impact on how well you get along with the other characters and what your relationship is with them. For example, Larry dies no matter what in episode two. But if you try to revive him Lilly considers you a true friend and trusts and respects you. On the other hand, Kenny grows to resent you for making him look like a monster in everyone's eyes for killing Larry when he was only doing it because he felt it was right and wanted to save his family.

On the other hand, if you decide to help Kenny then Lilly hates your guts but Kenny grows to respect you.

Would it be cool if your choices could make enough of an impact on the story for things to happen like saving Larry or Carley/Doug? Or being able to actually abandon the group and go with Lilly? Sure. But that would also take a lot of time and resources that Telltale probably didn't have.

So, yeah, the story will always play out the same. But I still feel like you have enough of a choice where it feels like your own personal experience. I played the game a second time just recently to show it to my brother and even though I made the same choices a lot of things felt different to me just by selecting different dialogue options and seeing what characters said.
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:46 PM   #16
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i read this article upto chaper 3. i must say. after reading upto this point. that, that is why i stopped buying the episodes. i have upto chapter 3. i was thinking of getting it on disc. but i'm seriously dissapointed. i totally agree that it doesnt live up to what was promissed. i loved it but, just not enough to buy ch 4 & 5. to me its not worth 2000pts. story is good, but everyone has the same results. which sucked the fun out of it. also it has no replay value whatsoever. this could have been a great game! the idea is sound. but the execution is poor. what you do should change the story & outcome. it should have branches leading off into different stories. this is the weakest part of this game. i wont buy the remaining 2 episodes. nor will i get next season. its not what i was hoping for.
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Old 12-25-2012, 06:55 PM   #17
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I really can't stand the "enjoy what a game is" when it comes to certain games as its always used incorrectly

Dragon age 2 took a crap on the The illusion of choice in a game as no matter what you do, its the same crap you have to do. Mass effect 3 took hundreds of hours of gameplay and decisions and none of it mattered at the end. To make it sell more to the mass market, you have to simplify the game until it becomes a button basher or all out cover based shooter with no real RPG elements. For once I would like to hear from someone who can state in calm reasonable opinion way the ending was good. Sadly it devolves into hyperbole and of "you wanting 20 different endings!!!!11111" or "haters"

getting back to TWD, Have to agree with some of the points on here like "presenting you with the power of choice even though the major plot points play out the same" and a bigger budget will allow the choices you can make matter a lot more
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:15 PM   #18
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"It is not the final destination but the journey itself that shapes the experience."

The point that we are arguing about this is what makes this such a great game and beautiful piece of art. Just like in life we make decisions, but you'll never know whether the consequences of those decisions were predetermined or if freewill truly exists. Is the date you die set in stone or can it be changed? And this game acts as a metaphor towards this idea. The game is meant to be played once. Even the achievements are geared toward this. There are none that require or promote a second playthrough. Then at the end, you must ask yourself would it have been different had I done it differently?
Going through and finding out well these characters would have died regardless of this or that is essentially not appreciating the game as art. Your experience as Lee ends the same regardless of decision, but many note that there were lots of cathartic moments in the game even though the outcome is the same. If you open the box to schrodinger's cat, then you are no longer playing the game but losing the spirit of the game altogether. Its no different than working a maze backwards or completing a crossword with the answers in front of you. What's the point? Enjoy what is in front of you, appreciate the moments of emotion it strikes and move on to the next experience rather than looking back.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:37 PM   #19
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End the ending? I cried. There, i said it: i cried! I've come to love Clementine as if she was my own doughter. And when you ask her to leave you and she holds your hand as you tell her you'll miss her... pffffff, i broke up there..

I felt the same way. I burst into tears in the end... Poor Clementine
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:28 AM   #20
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I would also argue that the choices you make aren't to shape what happens but shape what kind of person Lee is.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:14 PM   #21
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I felt the same way. I burst into tears in the end... Poor Clementine
Brought a tear to my eye too, would have been worse as I was welling up then some fucker went and knocked on the door, bloody mail.

I'm agreeing with a few people, I think it was the journey and the choices that shaped it, it was about the bond with Clementine and the sort of "Lee" you wanted to play.

I'll admit I was more than pissed when Carley got shot, and did look online if it were possible to save her, that's the one thing I would have changed if I could, I mean I hacked my arm off and regretted it instantly but didn't reload an earlier episode save.

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Old 01-09-2013, 10:50 PM   #22
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I see a lot of people say you should have been able to save Carley/Doug but, really, you shouldn't have. The whole point of their death is that NO ONE saw it coming. Everyone was shocked when it happened. They weren't expecting it. Sure, when you go back as a player KNOWING it's going to happen, you're going to wish you could do something to prevent it but, storywise, Lee still doesn't know it's going to happen even if you do. It's not like Lee would be able to predict the future and prevent it from happening.
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Old 01-13-2013, 12:59 AM   #23
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TC, I agree with you a 100%!! Obviously TT wasn't up to it which is sad because I would of loved to see the outcome of our "choices".
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:14 PM   #24
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I felt the same way. I burst into tears in the end... Poor Clementine
Same here. Had a hard time with Duck too. Having two kids of my own really drove it home for me at the end. Bravo!!

As for choice, I waited until the whole thing was on sale at Christmas & ran through all episodes. This is an amazing experience that no gamer should miss. Really raised the bar for what in-game writing & characterization should be. I mean, I wanted to kill Ben myself but was unable to let him die in ep4 - I felt too guilty!

And as soon as I was done I started again & went the other way with the cast. Was upset that Doug/Carley is smoked no matter what, &, after supporting Lilly 100% it's still coming down to "keep or leave", I left her out of spite! Still, I'm surprised how awful things with Kenny are in 2nd run. I had his back in 1st run & it's upsetting to me to cut him down in 2nd run. The shift in the cast's attitudes & expressions is why I'm still going through my 2nd run. It feels THAT different!

Finally, I can't remember the last time this generation I kept playing a game after getting all achievements. With a gamerscore well into 6 digits, that says a lot about this game's quality!!

Update - I finished my 2nd run & still had trouble not crying at the end. LOL!! I will say again that it's worth doing again if you choose the opposite all the way. For example, I was threatening with the cancer group 2nd time & it felt like a different game almost.

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Old 01-20-2013, 04:06 AM   #25
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Well i understand your concerns guys, but i got that after chapter 2 and was ok with it. I know that every person dies in every playthrough, it is simply not possible to make a game that complex with such a small team.

BUT, there are things that they COULD do! In ep. 5 in the attic, i realised that omid and christa were the perfect couple for clem. So i protected them and choose every answer to make sure that clementine ended up being with them. But yeah, after the sign their are gone. They could shown a little cutscene after the end were clem live with them, thats all i asked for. But yeah, there is a scene with clem on a bench seeing some walkers(?) on the horizon.

TL;DR: understand the things telltale did, but they could do more with their ressources.
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:44 PM   #26
CRA166 T
 
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Slightly off this subject but kinda in keeping at the same time, I thought there could have been more options for how to perform actions, like I'd always have 1 tool in an area to use, I want my brain to tick over on the problem solving, not "here's a spade dig here". There could have been more item interaction.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:53 PM   #27
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Hopefully with Season 2 they can change some things and make the choices matter more and that way there can be multiple playthroughs.
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:16 AM   #28
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so if you check the trash cans at the end of 4 before reaching down for the walkie talkie, you get bit either way?

and what about if you dont take the stuff from the car, does the guy still kidnap Clementine?

edit-nvm i see in the Episode 5 subforum they say he does it either way, which is kinda B.S.

thats the same crap that pissed me off about Mass Effect when i saw that none of my "choices" from ME1 actually mattered, BioWare decided whom we would be with in ME2(a completely new cast) and your "choices" merely determined which character would make a useless cameo.

i wound up playing ME3 without importing and basically got the gist of what everyone else did, minus all the disc changing issues everyone complained about cause i didnt have to load up non-default cameos

things like that keep me from actually playing again, which i thought about cause i wanted to see if i could actually get a different ending, but now that i see we cant, im done with it
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:29 PM   #29
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Wtf!?! Really!?!

I just finished this damn game, and am I ever glad that I didn't bother to play it a second time, to see what changes happen with you making different choices. Thank you for letting me know about how much of a waste this "Illusion of Choice" is. Ughh...
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Old 02-27-2013, 02:20 PM   #30
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Great game with a great story but like Mass Effect 3 no matter what you do the ending will be the same.
I blame the games companies telling us the choices we make effect the outcome when they really don't.Still its a great game the first time you play it but hasn't much replay value.
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