Sam & Max Episode 2: Situation Comedy Review
|Release Date:||December 21st, 2006 (GameTap) / January 5th, 2006 (Public)|
|Reviewer:||James Barlow (Malis)|
Christmas is over and you've likely overdosed on new games, new consoles and new ways to entertain yourself. So it's precisely the time to lay off the chunky Zelda, put down that spicy copy of Gears of War, and enjoy a lighter more fruity morsel of gaming goodness. I'm talking, of course, about the second episode in the ongoing serial antics of those craziest of freelance police - Sam & Max.
Episode 2: Situation Comedy 2 kicks off in the crime-fighting duo's wonky office where they receive a call informing them that TV host Myra Stump has gone crazy, holding her audience hostage for three days. It's up to Sam & Max to work out what's going on and stop it, preferably through violence if Max has any say in the matter. It's a slightly more flimsy plot than Episode 1, but provides ample opportunity for laughs, largely down to the choice of locations.
Although the first few scenes of the game are a somewhat forced trudge back through locations familiar from Culture Shock, once you're past a relatively simple puzzle you're thrust in front of the cameras on the sets of some truly fantastical TV shows. Much of the laughter stems from the absurd parodies of real-life shows. Do 'Embarrassing Idol' and 'Who's Never Going To Be A Millionaire?' sound familiar? Successfully navigating the sets and performing on them will grant you the level of fame required to enter Myra's game show and free the poor audience.
Compared to their last outing, the puzzles in Situation Comedy are much more laid back , and indeed easier. Playing out much more like an interactive cartoon than ever before, the puzzles are so deftly interwoven with the narrative and jokes that solving them rarely becomes anything less than a hoot. One of the highlights comes early one, when Sam & Max must ad lib their way through a sitcom featuring a chicken with glasses, and a cow who lives in the lounge.
It's all great fun whilst it lasts, but depending on how on the ball you are, this might not be very long. Situation Comedy felt shorter than Culture Shock, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in it's use of gags. Visuals still look gorgeous, even sharper and more detailed this time if that's possible, with the new locations a true joy to wonder around. It's undoubtedly the perfect look for Sam & Max, who still look like cartoon characters brought to life by your own hand.
Indeed, perhaps the only area in which Situation Comedy falls short are the voices. Whilst the majority are superb, Max' performance just falls short this time. Something just doesn't feel right with his vocal delivery in Episode 2. Doing a little digging I quickly discovered that, as I had thought, a new voice actor was roped in for Max' lines in Episode 2, due to original Andrew Chaikin pulling out last minute on medical grounds. While replacement William Kasten does an adequate job, it just doesn't feel as sharp as the rest of the cast - though this could just be a case of getting used to the new voice.
Situation Comedy is a short but brilliant slice of serial gaming, effortlessly continuing the high standards set in Culture Shock. It does seem as if the series is steering away from traditional adventure gaming towards more interactive cartoon-style episodes, but it's a move that is proving both relaxing and hilarious to this reviewer. Whether Sam & Max can keep the momentum going for an entire series remains to be seen, but from what we've played so far, it certainly seems so. And anyway, you'd be a fool to doubt a homicidal bunny wielding a magnum.
- Maintains the excellent high standards of Episode 1
- Dangerously funny
- A chicken eating a cow-pat
Not so good stuff
- Bit too easy
- Slightly new voice on Max may take getting used to