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The Wolf Among Us - Episode 2 - Review by Alister Kennedy (PS3)

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Telltale Games released the first episode of The Wolf Among Us “Faith” back in October last year and was a superb look into the wonderful world of Mr Bigby Wolf and company. (Check out Ali’s review here)
Today (February 5th in UK) saw the release of the second chapter “Smoke & Mirrors” which has taken it's sweet time arriving on our digital store shelves. Can it live up to Faith’s greatness? Read on Fable fans, read on.

When I played The Wolf Among Us for the first time in October the first episode sucked me right into it's world, so much so that I read every issue of the Fables comic series, on which the game is based, that I could get my hands on. While my new obsession with the world grew so did my impatience waiting on the second installment and finally I get to play it 4 months later.

This time we see Bigby fresh from the last tales conclusion, a tad peeved at the shock ending that we all were taken aback by. The game starts as Bigby is sitting at a table being questioned about events that occurred last time. The Wolf Among Us uses the new Telltale control scheme (as seen previously in episode 1 and also in The Walking Dead Season 2) and was refreshing to use in it's various new situations the player was placed in. This time around being honest, the story felt flat. Compared to 'Faith' this new chapter stays on a pretty safe path that holds no surprises or twists for the player.

Last time round the game kicked off with a memorable tussle with the woodsman which was a frantic quick time event that required fast fingers and quick presses of the buttons. Aside from one fight, similar but a lot shorter, near the end this game has none of the initial excitement we saw previously. And the one "shocking" twist at the end is made clearly obvious during the first body examination. Another thing I picked up on was the choices you get to make aren't as easily categorised into good and bad, on occasion what you think is the good choice was just an opener for Bigby to be a dick. Though it was nice to see the story choices still effecting your game for example on re-visiting the bar the character who's arm I ripped off is propped at the bar with one less appendage and a worse attitude towards my Bigby.The opening of the game is very fast paced and almost hard to keep a track of what is going on, after which the remaining three quarters plod along like the tortoise in the hare race.

Unfortunately on top of the slow paced story, during my playthrough I came across a number of bugs that included but were not limited to - jerky camera movement and animation, audio not synching with the characters, a brooch in a characters hand moving around like it was possessed (it wasn't) and close to the end when Bigby played a tape in the motel the characters could hear music as they commented on it however the game failed to play the audio. Now usually issues like this can be forgiven but after a stellar opening act and a four month delay, this time they cannot be. It shows lack of polish and feels like it has been rushed out due to fan demand.

These problems in no way made the game unplayable but create more than an annoyance on several occasions. The game did have it's good points with a small appearance from Jack of Fables, from the comics being a particular highlight and the voice actor cast is perfect for the role. I hope we see more of the cheeky sod in future episodes. The cast of the first game is not seen as much as I would of hoped and the game mainly focused on Bigbys investigation (yes I know that's the point) but with such a diverse range of characters available it's a shame they weren't utilised in a better capacity.

The game still has the feel and tone that had been set from the beginning and we get to visit a bit more of Fabletown. Most noteworthy is The Pudding & Pie, a strip joint run by Georgie. Go figure. Dark humour underlies the plot during your one and a half hour (ish) playthrough but still wasn't enough for me to raise a smile.

While this may be part of one whole game rather than a game to play by itself I was disappointed to come away from the experience deflated and not really looking forward to the next part especially as the teaser trailer at the end wasn't too hot looking. It pains me to say this but it looks as if Telltale have lost their magic touch with this one and I really hope that the next one brings things back on track. Fingers crossed this time we don't have to wait another four months.A game that I can only recommend to players of the first episode, however my recommendation comes with a warning and that's to approach with caution as this wolf has a bit of a nasty bite.

Alister Kennedy
42 Level One

The Wolf Among Us - Episode 2 - Smoke & Mirrors is available now on PS3, Xbox 360 and Steam.

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Overall Score - 6/10