So far this season Sam and Max have managed to take on politics, the mafia and even American Idol. But in their fifth adventure our favorite freelance police officers are going to take on their craziest case yet: Geek culture! That's right; in Reality 2.0, Sam and Max are going to battle the internet, discover why everybody is so addicted to those massively multiplayer online games, and discover just how nerdy some of us gamers really are. If you've been waiting for the perfect time to jump in and discover what makes the Sam & Max series so much fun then Reality 2.0 is definitely a great place to start, it's one of the funniest and most inspired video game parodies I have ever seen and a must play ... even if you aren't normally into point and click adventure games.
Reality 2.0 picks up right after Episode 4, Max is currently the President of the United States (don't ask) and there's a gigantic robot still wandering the streets. But there's no time to worry about those things because the commissioner is in an uproar over some computer-related problems ... the kind you can't fix by simply turning off your PC and then turning it back on again. Planes are falling out of the sky, the world's retailers are in chaos, and pasty skinned nerds will actually have to go outside and socialize with other people. Oh the horror! But don't worry; Sam and Max are on the case.
Lucky for our heroes a major disruption is happening right in their backyard, so investigating these weird happenings requires almost no effort on your part. Strange things keep happening, and all around you everybody seems to be too busy playing this alternate reality video game called Reality 2.0. By everybody I mean that the local shopkeeper, Bosco, and one-time psychic Sybil (who is currently working as a beta tester) are busy with this massively multiplayer online game. But is this game a harmless alternative to the day to day doldrums of modern life, or is there something far more sinister at play in Reality 2.0?
Before long you'll be introduced to the central hub of Reality 2.0, a small storefront that houses four memorable pieces of technology (a pong machine, an arcade cabinet, an old school computer, and a telephone). These four characters introduce you to the wild new world of Reality 2.0, a game that requires you to wear a fancy new headset that sees the world in a completely new way. In Reality 2.0 the world around you has been transformed into something straight out of a video game, and all of your favorite items have been turned into something a little bit more appropriate to a computer game. One look at Reality 2.0 and it's easy to see why nobody wants to go back to the boring old Reality 1.0.
Without giving too much of the story away, your mission is to discover what the heck is going on with this mesmerizing video game and do something about it. Like all Sam & Max games, this means that you're going to have to talk to a lot of people, use some funky adventure game logic, and solve some crazy puzzles. Thankfully this set up is intriguing and this fifth installment is the funniest episode yet.
Part of what makes this game so much fun is that it's aware of all of the in-jokes and references that it's making. In true Sam & Max fashion, every element of this topic is spoofed in one way or another. And it's not just MMOs that get the brunt of the jokes; you'll also find references to Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, classic LucasArts adventure games, Dragon Warrior, Castlevania, and so much more. And believe it or not the jokes aren't always obvious, from beginning to end you'll be constantly surprised by all of the references the game makes.
Better yet, this Sam & Max game seems to be aware of some of the criticism of the first few games. For example, one of the biggest complaints about the first few Sam & Max adventures was that they reused a lot of the same environments, but in this game they take that criticism and flip it upside down. Sure you get the same areas you've seen in the past few episodes (Bosco's Inconvenience Store, Sybil's, and everything else on the main street), only now you get to experience them in a completely altered state, which really adds to the game. This alternate reality has some of the same layout, but it's just fun to see how they changed the world to fit into Reality 2.0.
But beyond all of that, this Sam & Max episode excels because it's just one of the funniest games of the year. I thought I laughed a lot during the past few episodes, but nothing could prepare me for the humor in Reality 2.0. If you're a fan of video games, the internet and other geek culture, then this Sam & Max game is a must-play. I hate to oversell it, but this game made me laugh more than all of this year's network sitcoms combined. Not that that's saying much. And not only is this insanely funny, but it also has one of the greatest final acts of any video game I have ever played. By the time this game is over you will feel like you've accomplished something.
Much like all of the episodes in this first season, Reality 2.0 is a fairly short adventure that will only take you a few hours to complete. While I didn't exactly time myself to see how long it took me to beat, I will say that it felt like this episode was a bit longer and more involved than past games. Obviously your mileage will vary based on whether or not you get stuck on any of the puzzles. Even though I had relatively no problems solving the puzzles in the first few games, Reality 2.0 had a few moments that had me genuinely perplexed. Part of the problem is that when you initially enter the alternate reality portion of this game it's not exactly obvious what you're supposed to be doing. Thankfully the world is so much fun to look at and enjoy that you won't even care that your path isn't clearly laid out for you.
If you've played any of the previous Sam & Max episodes (or any point and click adventure game, for that matter), then you'll know exactly what to do in this game. As usual the game is controlled by you pointing at where you want Sam to go and then clicking the button to make him move. Outside of that you will have to pick up items, use the objects in your inventory, and talk to all of the people you meet on this crazy adventure. The gameplay as not changed at all; nor should it considering that this is part of a larger season.
Speaking of things that don't change; the graphics in Reality 2.0 look exactly like they did in the previous four episodes. Thankfully this isn't a big deal because the game looked good from the first episode one. The most memorable parts of this episode have nothing to do with fancy graphics; instead it's about the style and what it emulates. Sam & Max may not be as detailed as Gears of War or Crysis, but that shouldn't keep you from having a great time playing this quirky adventure game.
One thing that Telltale Games always gets right is the music and voice acting. The music in this episode is especially good, especially when it plays homage to classic video game tunes. The voice acting is also great; the actors who play Sam and Max are incredibly funny and know how to deliver great one-liners. Comedy is hard, yet Sam & Max couldn't make it look any easier if they tried.
It's easy to love a game like Reality 2.0, it tells one of the best stories in the season, it's full of laugh out loud moments, and most gamers will get a kick out of all of the classic video game references. If you've never had a chance to experience a Sam & Max game then this is a good starting point, even if it is relatively late in the season. If they could charge by the laugh then this game would cost thousands of dollars, it's that funny. These Sam & Max episodes are getting better with each passing game; it's definitely a shame that it's all coming to an end next episode.