Zombie fiction isn't about the moment of death - it's about what comes just before and just after; the fear of having all humanity ripped out of you and the knowledge that you'll never be in control again. To its credit, Terminal Reality's new first-person shooter manages to produce precisely the same effect. You will be afraid of those moments before death and you will hate the idea of coming back afterwards - primarily because it's so nauseatingly boring.
It's odd, because in describing the typical run of a Walking Dead: Survival Instinct level, everything sounds well-pitched. Take this example from early in the game. You roll into a town low on much-needed petrol and high on intermittently dismantling ex-humans. The terrified son of a gas station owner spots you and says that he'll swap what fuel he has left if you'll find his father, who also has the key to the station's generator. You find said parent in the early stages of undeath, bludgeon him and return to the son, who begs you to take him with you. You switch on the generator, causing a racket that leads to a tense fill-up of a jerry can as the town's undead inch forward. There's then a breathless run through the moaning crowd and you're back on the road to Atlanta with a new, grieving companion.
This scene aptly captures The Walking Dead series in a nutshell: violence, tension, humanity. It's set against a competent enough background too, telling the story of brothers Daryl and Merle before their arrival in the TV show. What we haven't mentioned is how this all feels to play.
For the most part, you'll be sneaking, which is actually fine, if pretty low-key. Crouching slows you to a crawl and your flashlight produces a weedy dunce's cap of visibility, making darkened areas a suitable pain. Unfortunately, the developer's proud, back-of-the-box assertion that "the walkers can smell you" only amounts to a workaround for the A.I. having to actually approximate any kind of search - stay near one for long enough and they just know you're there. This is when the problems start.