Video Games

The Walking Dead: March to War is a giant battle over DC

Zombies are bad in this game, but other people could be the real problem.

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The Walking Dead: March to War mobile game makes you a survivor trying to build and defend your own society from undead walkers and the ruthless living.

Disruptor Beam

People could be the worst in The Walking Dead: March to War -- even with hordes of zombies everywhere.

The mobile game based on "The Walking Dead" comic series -- and definitely not to be confused with the television show -- places thousands of players onto a map of the Washington, DC metro area, each attempting to build a society while surviving potential attacks from other players' groups.

The idea is reinforced both in the game's storyline, which takes place during the comic's "March to War" issues (roughly about where the seventh season of "The Walking Dead" TV show takes place), as well as the game's warning that you get 72 hours to build up your camp before it becomes eligible for other players to attack.

I was first shown the game during a brief demo at San Diego Comic-Con in July, and have spent the past few days since the game's release last week starting up my own camp and diving into the storyline.

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The game takes place in and around a devastated District of Columbia.

Disruptor Beam

March to War pairs you up with Amira, an original character created by developer Disruptor Beam, who gives advice on how to get your camp started. For the early part of the game she leads conversations with "Walking Dead" comic characters that stop by -- some friendly and some not so friendly.

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Characters, like Amira seen here, have a hand-drawn look to them.

Screenshot by Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Several of the comic's characters can eventually join your camp and become your "Council Members," who are essentially leaders that accompany your raiding parties when clearing out walkers (the "Walking Dead's" term for zombie), scavenging for supplies or other missions. 

The teenager Carl has joined my camp so far, but the game hints that many of the known characters from the comic -- hero, villain or otherwise -- could eventually be unlocked. Carl's father Rick, katana-wielding Michonne and even the villainous Negan could end up helping my camp thrive (but since this is based on the comic, no Daryl or anyone that looks like actor Norman Reedus).

Unfortunately, like many free-to-play games, these missions as well as construction of my camp are often saddled with timers -- meaning while I direct what my camp does, I ultimately have to wait for actions to finish unless I want to use items to speed things up (which, of course, sometimes cost real money). 

Some timers are only one to two minutes, and at times can even be skipped. Others however hit the 90-minute range -- and often mean putting the game down to pick up later.

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You build up your base, train survivors and fortify yourself to defend against possible attacks.

Screenshot by Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Visually the game mirrors the comic's style, making each of the characters look like they have been sketched onto a page. The in-game world itself is a bit plain at first (you will likely start with a small camp in a wooded, suburban area outside the District of Columbia), but you can use the map to check out the ruined city.

Disruptor Beam said it worked with Skybound Entertainment (the makers of "The Walking Dead" comic) when placing both locations from the comic universe like the colonies of Alexandria, The Kingdom and The Sanctuary among this depiction of a fallen national capital.

The developers also say that landmarks like the White House can eventually be controlled too, an effort that is best taken care of by players that band together using the game's community system. 

While random events such as walker hordes can damage your camp, the game notes that the biggest potential threats are other players you're not aligned with. After the three-day cease fire ends, they have the option to attack you if they so choose.

No one has attacked me yet, even though the cease fire has come and gone. The game warns that if my camp does suffer too much damage, some of my survivors may be killed off. Worse, my camp could end up being randomly relocated (which would suck, I have a nice spot by the river).

So for now, it's still early days for this mobile game that's now out on iOS and Android. When my server starts to fill up, hopefully my camp will be strong enough to defend my waterside property.