Just in time to save us from the WGA writer's strike, Sam & Max are back for their first new adventure of the new year. That's right, Sam & Max are back and they've decided to trade in the chilly temperatures of their last outing (Ice Station Santa) for a warm tropical adventure. This is Moai Better Blues, and while this new Sam & Max game doesn't break any new ground for the genre, it is a nice (warm) alternative to all of the left-over toys you could be playing with.
It's just another exciting day outside of Sam and Max's office, Bosco is freaking out about something new, the diner is open for business and there's a giant dimensional gate chasing Sybil around. Yup, it's just another normal day in the life of Sam and Max. Before you know it Sybil is being sucked into weird dimensional gate and it's up to our two heroes to leap into action and save the damsel in distress.
But what's this? Instead of being taken to some hellish pit of torture and chaos, Sam and Max are spit out in the Bermuda Triangle. That's right; it's time for our hard working heroes to take a vacation in Easter Island. But it's not going to be fun and sun for Sam and Max, because these two smart-mouthed freelancers are about to set off on an adventure to stop a volcano from erupting, become a high priest and figure out what to do with the Fountain of Youth. Oh, and I mention that this episode explains what happened to Glenn Miller, Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earhart. Yeah, this is going to be a crazy adventure.
This episode is a bit more low-key than some of the previous episodes; it has a very laid back and straight forward story. There are a few moments of brilliance (including the hints that the woman running Stinky's Diner may actually be up to no good), but the story isn't as memorable this time around. That's not to say there aren't some good jokes, I was laughing throughout the entire episode. Part of the problem is the premise itself; the game introduces you to these long lost characters from our past only to do nothing with them. I was disappointed with how quickly they race past potentially funny situations in order to get to the boring and tedious main plot. The second half is also a bit weak this time around, after thinking I was going to help out D.B. Cooper the game takes a drastic turn that I didn't find all that interesting.
Don't get me wrong, I haven't soured on the Sam & Max franchise; I still look forward to seeing what crazy situation these two characters get into. Hopefully Telltale Games can regain their footing with their next episode. But even if the next four episodes are no better than this one, gamers will still be in for a solid adventure game with some of the best writing around.
Outside of a few minor tweaks here and there, this brand new Sam & Max game controls exactly like all of the other titles in the series. Basically you point at an object and click your mouse button to interactive with it; it's no different from all of the other graphic adventures that have flooded the computer space for the last thirty years. But while the basic mechanics are the same, Telltale Games has been busy at making the game more accessible. For example, this season Telltale Games decided to include a tutorial level, which gets you up to speed with how the game plays. You will also be able to the hints on, just in case you get frustrated with a certain puzzle and just want to move on. And best of all, Sam can finally run from place to place, which is accomplished by double tapping the mouse button. All of these improvements add something to the value of the game; it's nice to see the company adding to what was already a streamlined series.
For the most part the graphics are the same as they were in the first season, which is certainly not a bad thing. While there may be a few minor upgrades to the character models and whatnot, from what I can tell the game appears to be running on the same engine as the first six episodes. Even though it's nice to have top of the line graphics, these Sam & Max episodes are not about how many polygons you can push and the stunning lighting effects. That's not to say the game looks bad, quite to the contrary. While Sam & Max can't compete with the recently released PC version of Gears of War, as a game about a crime fighting dog and rabbity thing I think the game looks fantastic. The character models are large and detailed and the worlds are full of life.
The game's real strong suit is the audio, which features some of the best voice acting you'll ever hear. The voices of both Sam and Max are fantastic, and the supporting cast (Bosco, Abe Lincoln's head, Glenn Miller, etc.) all give it their all. Unfortunately there isn't as much music in this episode; it's as if the sound department decided to go on vacation with Sam and Max. What's more, the dialog in this episode isn't nearly as memorable as in past episodes. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that the funniest part of this game has nothing to do with the voice acting (it has to do with Duke Nukem Forever, believe it or not).
Moai Better Blues is another solid entry in the Sam & Max franchise. Sadly this month's adventure isn't nearly as inspired as some of the previous outings, but that doesn't stop this from being a fun adventure game with a few brain busting puzzles. If you can overlook some of the game's problems you will discover that this is a fun game with a lot of laughs.
Moai Better Blues is another worthwhile Sam & Max game. Unfortunately this month's episode isn't nearly as exciting as the ones that came before it. If you can overlook some disappointing plotting and a lame story then you'll find this to be a solid adventure game with enough laughs to hold you over until the next episode.
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