Monday, 13 April 2009

PC Game Review - Sam & Max Season Two

Sam and Max Season Two picks up from where the first season ended, with Max (hyperkinetic bunny-type creature) now invested as President of the United States. Despite this he's also still part of the Freelance Police team with Sam, the more laid-back canine-type creature who's his partner in crime-busting. This intrepid duo have saved the world countless times, and nearly brought about the world's ruin (inadvertently of course) even more times.

Though in 3D this game has a traditional point-and-click interface with a simple and effective inventory management. This works very well and ensures that adventure game purists will be happy with the control system. The way the game develops is not typical for an adventure game however; Season Two has five episodes, each a game in its own right. There is a lot of overlap between the episodes with elements of each one carrying through to the next. Though it isn't apparent for quite some time there is an overall plot that extends back to Season One, and the way that elements of each episode are brought together in the final episode of Season Two is quite brilliant.

Graphically Sam & Max is very nice, not amazing but the cartoony style and vivid colours complement the game perfectly. There's a nice amount of detail and the animation is good. The music is once again superb and the voice acting exceptional - it sounds like all the original cast reprise their roles. All of the characters from the first season are back - Sybil, Bosco, Jimmy Two-Teeth, The Soda Poppers, Abe Lincoln's Reanimated Stone Head, Mr Featherby, etc. Hugh Bliss and Brady Culture don't feature strongly, but they are there. Mr Spatula (he's a goldfish - and Vice-President of the United States!) plays a much greater part than in the previous season. There are a few extra characters as well, but I'll let you find them for yourself.

The game does suffer a little from too much repetition, which is a problem common to most (if not all) adventure games, but the dialogue and animations are so funny that it's sometime fun to repeat something just for the sake of it. The plots are very good and not too rigidly structured. The solutions to a lot of the puzzles require some very creative thinking, and for all of the puzzles there are clues if you if you look hard enough. It's not an easy game, but the difficulty level is just about right - and there is an in-game hint system if you're really stuck. This is a great idea and I think every adventure game should have it - though in this case the hints didn't always seem very helpful! If you get really stuck, check out the complete walkthroughs on the TellTale site (http://www.telltalegames.com/samandmax/)

The settings and characters in Sam & Max Season Two are wildly inventive and always entertaining. One slight drawback for some players is that a certain knowledge of the characters and the events from Season One are assumed - not that you couldn't play and enjoy the game without having played the first season, but you would definitely lose out a bit if you did.

In terms of playing time I estimate each hour takes maybe 3 or 4 hours to complete - I've completed the game but didn't really time it. I can't quite work out if the episodes are longer than in the first season (which had 6 episodes), but there's a decent amount of playing time in here. There are also a few fun mini-games, some of which need to be beaten in order to progress, some don't. Nothing too taxing in terms of compulsory gameplay, and there are some you'll return to anyway because they're a blast to play (sometimes quite literally).

The key to the game is its humour, and there are many times that Sam & Max: Season Two is likely to make you laugh out loud. Soem of the humour is a little mischevious and some slightly rude (though - and telling you how would ruin the joke - one of the things that appears to be very rude actually turns out not to be anywhere near as rude as you thought it was). The game is rated 12+ in the UK (will be Teen in the States, I expect) for this reason.

The episodes in this season are:

Ice Station Santa - a clever parody of "A Christmas Carol"
Moai Better Blues - Easter Island Heads, Bermuda Triangles, and Max becoming a priest to the seas monkeys!
Night of the Racing Dead - look out for the Young Frankenstein reference in this one!
Chariots of the Dogs - Bosco is missing... T.H.E.M. have come! Time for some serious travel in time and space, including going back to the beginning of time to find out which really did come first, the chicken or the egg?
What's New, Beelzebub - hell is under new management... and believe it or not. The old manager was better!


You'll enjoy this game immensely if you liked Series One, but in all honesty I'd advise playing that first before you play this. So much wouldn't make much sense if you didn't know what had already happened!


Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy of this game by TellTale Games. I certify that the review given here is entirely my unbiased opinion of the game.

(It was on my order list already, but this way I got it before the official release date in the UK!)


Related Links:

PC Game Review - Sam & Max Season One (review on this blog)
Day of the Tentacle / Sam & Max Hit The Road Double Pack (review on Epinions)







More Adventure Game Reviews

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