Bone: The Great Cow Race

Reviewed by Remi Olsen, who is right as always.

Yes, there is a race in The Great Cow Race. No, it's not as annoying as the chase scenes in Out from Boneville.

It's obvious that Telltale took the criticism of the first Bone chapter to heart, and while The Great Cow Race is not up there with the best of the old LucasArts classics, it is a solid and fun adventure game. The concepts from Out from Boneville are still here: you control the three Bone cousins, you solve both standard and arcade based puzzles, and there are plenty of multi-character dialogues. This time around, however, everything feels a whole lot more polished. Fone Bone is still the main character, obviously, but you will spend a lot more time playing both Phoney and Smiley too. The fact that the actions you perform as one character can (and will) impact puzzles being solved by another makes the puzzle structire in The Great Cow Race a whole lot more complex than the previous game in a Day of the Tentacle like manner. That is, obviously, a good thing, as Out from Boneville tended to be a bit too simple.

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Speaking of the characters; both Grandma Ben and Thorn have been recast, thank goodness. Grandma Ben actually sounds like what you'd expect from reading the comic, and Thorn... Well, her voice isn't as flat as it was in the first game, but she now sounds like she's twelve years old. I wouldn't call it a perfect recast, or even a good one for that matter, but it's at least a step up from the previous game. Other than that all the main characters are voiced well, and even smaller bit-players don't sound all too shabby anymore.

Some issues from the first game are still around, however. The dialogue is a bit iffy at times, and doesn't flow as naturally as it does in games like Psychonauts and Escape from Monkey Island. It gets a bit annoying when the topic at hand gets repeated again and again; surely people don't have such a short attention span that they need to constantly be reminded that they're talking about "the egg" or whatever. Replacing it with "it" (like I just did!) would make the dialogue sound a bit less forced.

The game is also constrained to just a handful of locations, and you never really get the sense of being in a bustling town like say Rubacava in Grim Fandango. There are other smaller issues, like some lacking backgrounds, very few animations for minor characters, and some dramatic scenes from the comic book just don't feel that dramatic in the game. Most of this, I guess, comes down to budget constraints, and it's hard to be too critical about it when the game costs $12.99. Which it is worth, by the way.

And it's not like the faults are consistent either; on a whole the backgrounds are better than the first game. There are even some interesting new ideas, like a dream sequence which instead of being a non-interactive cut-scene actually lets you explore the surroundings and get clues about what's really happening in the game. That actually adds a bit of depth to the experience.

The Great Cow Race is a little bit longer, a little bit cheaper, and a little bit more polished than its predecessor. And that makes it a whole lot easier to recommend.

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Pros: A whole lot more polished than the first game...
Cons: ... but still not as polished as it should be.

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