Sam & Max Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die! Review
|Release Date:||February 22, 2007 (GameTap) / March 8th, 2007 (Public)|
|Reviewer:||James Barlow (Malis)|
Dust off your magnum and doff your thinking cap because it's that time of the month again. Sam & Max are back with their monthly dose of cartoon capers, and this time it's political. Abe Lincoln Must Die is the fourth in Telltale's revitalising episodic treatment of the franchise, and while still riotously funny, treads much of the same ground as the last 3 adventures.
Which of course is no bad thing. It still looks fabulous, the voice acting spot-on, and a script so full of one-liners that you can't help but smile at the odd one. These three factors alone pretty much make or break an adventure game, so it's no surprise that as an isolated adventure game Episode 4 is superb. But how does it fit into the series?
It's no secret that each episode of Sam & Max is short (around two hours for the average gamer). This is offset by the pricing structure, and the hope that a season of these crazy and entertaining blasts of gaming will complete a full game. Trouble is, with the release gaps between each episode I'm starting to yearn for more to sink my teeth into. Each episode has branched out into more locations than the rest, but each still focuses around the central core of Sam & Max' office and the street outside. Abe Lincoln Must Die explores the White House and its grounds but annoyingly much of the puzzles involve backtracking to and fro between locations that have started to grow stale from previous episodes.
That's not to say the jokes don't work - they're still as sharp as ever, and the puzzles can be immensely satisfying once you've grasped the game's twisted logic (presidency election campaigns have never been so entertaining) but this episode seems more padded than most with recycled dialogue from well-worn characters like Sybil. Worryingly, I can only see this problem exacerbated when playing through the season as a whole later on.
Still, if you've liked the series so far and are a fan of the genre, you'll no doubt be getting this regardless - and for your money you'll be duly rewarded with a cracking few hours. The animation and facial expressions still put most other games to shame, and the overall stylistic quality is some of the most creative and entertaining ever seen in an adventure game. Make no mistakes, when Sam & Max are at their violent and witty peak, there's no stopping the little blighters.
One thing I've tried to make clear in reviews of past episodes is the cartoon like feel, and it's important to grasp just how successful Sam & Max is at pulling this off. Right now I'm struggling to think of when I actually opened my inventory and used an item in Episode 4. In fact, the inventory is barely used, and everything takes place in a very organic fluid feel. There's no sense in Sam & Max that you're storing up a clutter of items that confuse and grate - when you need to use one here it's immediately obvious. While this may scare some purists of the genre, it perfectly captures the spirit of the subject and format, remarkably breaking down the wall further between gaming and interactive story-telling.
Sam & Max need a holiday. So far they've been keeping us entertained with crazy humour and entertaining cases, but the strains are beginning to show. New locations and new characters would send the series back to top form, and it's clear that the dangers of episodic gaming are starting to manifest themselves. While a solid entry to the series, it's by no means the best, and the duo are certainly capable of much better.
- Still funny
- Still gorgeous
- Max gets access to missiles!
Not so good stuff
- Starting to feel stale in places
- Tad too much backtracking
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