Sam & Max 204: Chariots of the Dogs

Review

posted 4/23/2008 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
Platforms: PC
What would you say if I told you that this newest episode of Sam & Max, Chariots of the Dogs, would answer some of the biggest questions of all time? I'm talking about the biggies, like how the universe was created, what came first - the chicken or the egg, and what kind of woman would find Max attractive. Well, not only do you get answers to all of these burning questions, but you also get one of the greatest Sam & Max episodes of all time.

I honestly didn't think it could get much better than episode 203, Night of the Raving Dead, but somehow Telltale Games have been able to give us one of the funniest, craziest, most time travelingest games ever made. Move over Bill and Ted, take a hike Marty McFly, the only time travelers would talking about are Sam and Max, freelance police.

It all starts when Sam, Max and Flint Paper (the next door neighbor) decide to investigate why Bosco has been missing for so long. After breaking into Bosco's Inconvenience (and finally showing us what the high-security bathroom looks like) Sam & Max find themselves being abducted by aliens. That's right aliens. And when I say "Aliens" I mean Mexicans. But not just Mexicans ... but time traveling Mexican aliens (with a spaceship and everything). Yes, I know it's outlandish, but let's not forget that just one episode ago we were using Frankenstein to defeat vampires and zombies.

From here on out I could go into all kinds of details about the plot of the game, but the truth is that nobody that is going to play Chariots of the Dogs is going to want the storyline spoiled for them. Needless to say, this Sam & Max adventure deals with you going into the future, into the past and everywhere in between. No joke. You'll get whiplash from going into the far off future and then seeing what it was like before the universe was created. You'll meet familiar faces along the way and go back to some of the best moments from Sam & Max's first season. This game has it all.


But then, it's really hard to mess up a story about time traveling. There's just something instinctively awesome about knowing that with every step you take you're probably changing the future. This type of story is also rife with self referential comments and jokes about the future and past. And best of all, you don't mind going to places you've been to in past games, since this time around they are either in the future or past and are full of weird changes. I love time travel as a gimmick; it's a shame that more video games aren't using this idea.

Outside of the story everything is pretty much the same. The game controls just like the other ten games in the series, you point (with your mouse) where you want to go and click on items to interact with them. Like the other games this season you will be able to make Sam sprint around the level and there are also helpful hints that pop up when you are lost and can't figure out one of the puzzles. It's as if Telltale Games has thought of everything when it comes to polishing up the way Sam & Max controls.

Like the controls, the graphics are also basically the same. That's not a bad thing by any means; the graphics (especially this season) have been especially good. They aren't going to blow you away with their polygon crunching power, but they could look a lot worse considering the short amount of time it takes to make one of these episodes. Either way, I can't imagine any fan of this type of graphic adventure genre being too disappointed with the visuals in this game.

Forget the visuals for a moment, the real star of this game is the audio. It's not just the fantastic score that accompanies every part of the game, it's not just the great voice acting (which is at the top of its game in this title) ... the real star this time around is the song and dance number. Of course, for Sam & Max fans that shouldn't come as a surprise, the song and dance numbers in these games are always spectacular.

To say that this is another excellent episode of Sam & Max would be to undersell just how good this game actually is. This is easily the best episode this season, and possibly even better than the best of last season, too. Next month's episode, What's New, Beelzebub, has a lot to live up to after this episode. Chariots of the Dogs may have a silly name, but it's easily one of the best two hours I have ever spent in front of a video game.


A-
Chariots of the Dogs is great on so many levels, from its fantastic time traveling plotline to all of its great pop-culture references. But the reason to play this Sam & Max episode is not to laugh at the Back to the Future jokes or Bosco as a cow, instead the reason you want to play this game is because it will conclusively tell us which came first - the chicken or the egg!



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