Now that most of the team have had a chance to look at EMI, these are our first impressions of the game. Lets see what the team has to say!
Although I've only experienced the first half of the game, I already know that EMI meets the high standard of previous Monkey Island games.
At first the plot seemed a bit weak, but as soon as I got in to it, I was entranced with the rich environments, characters and dialogue that I didn't even notice the idiocricies of say Guybrush protecting the space-time continuum or an evil henchman with no nose. With complete surprises and twists in the plot, the action never stops and there isn't a dull moment.
The controls and new game style do take some getting used to and were frustrating at first but as soon as you get use to them, it feels like second nature. The use of the LUA engine has been implemented fantastically and it really feels like its evolved a lot since Grim Fandango.
Of course, the game isn't flawless, the controls can be erratic at times and there are the occasion bugs, but no more then would be expected from such a complex genre of game.
One thing that made this game feel so right was the way LucasArts have kept in with previous traditions from obscure Easter eggs to familiar old "follow-the-trail" puzzles.
Any hype or concerns that Escape from Monkey Island would be the stinker in the series can be dispelled instantly, as I can say with great pleasure, that this is gonna be one of your favourites in the series.
The graphics in Escape From Monkey Island are a la Grim Fandango with a piratey twist, the backgrounds look truly spectacular and the effects such as flames really add some realism to the game.
The cutscene engine is simply amazing, and Although some of the polygons seem a bit clunky in some of the cutscenes, the characters show great expression and movement. And yes, Guybrush even blinks.
The quality of music in the game holds true to the Monkey Island "tradition." All of the placeholder music seen in the demo is now, as promised, replaced with amazing island tunes which put new spins on some old themes. The voice acting in Escape From Monkey Island is also very well done. Most characters (and there are a lot of them) appear to be perfectly cast, although there are a couple whose voices no longer fit the character's appearance. An example of this would be Murray, whose voice stays the same in EMI, and the voice acting is great, but the actual appearance of our favorite demonic skull is a little disappointing.
Controls are similar to Grim Fandango as well as the popup menu which lets you view previous cutscenes in the game. Guybrush also now has the ability to navigate the island maps as if you were just walking around. However, the controls as they did in Grim Fandango tend to get a bit frustrating.
Escape From Monkey Island is one great game. The characters, locations, graphics, and music all hold true to the Monkey Island world. I encourage everyone to play this game!
I admit, I've only just gotten on to CD 2, but even being only (what seems to be) half way through the game I can say that it's made me laugh more than any game has since Sam & Max or Monkey Island 2, and that's saying a lot. Humor is definitely EMI's strong point. Unlike CMI, which was a little soft on the sarcasm, EMI is packed with all the insults and wisecracks that I expect when I think of Monkey Island. I especially liked that insult sporting (sword fighting, arm wrestling, etc) was used for the sake of plot and humor instead of as a puzzle. It let new gamers experience the trademark MI humor without making MI 'veterans' plow through an hour of insult gathering for the third time. EMI's original story (what I've seen so far) is also excellent. The plot twists, usually told through very well composed cinematics, are almost Grim Fandango like in their complexity and unexpectedness. I just hope it all ties up properly in the finale.
The voice acting is superbo. Guybrush 'feels' more like I pictured him in the first two games, thanks both to the new dialogue (of course) and Dominic Armato's (the actor who voice's Guybrush) improved handling of the character since the last game. Also, despite many people saying otherwise, I think Elaine's new voice fits her character far more accurately than her voice in Curse.
Now on to the visual side of EMI .... The cinematics, as I mentioned above, are fantastic, the character animation is top notch, and for the most part the buildings were true to the MI style, often worthy of numerous 80's buzzwords even! Some areas, though, were just lacking. In the previous three Monkey games I started up the game for the first time and was immediately impressed - in MI1 with the music and cool full screen 256 color graphic (!), in 2 with the water colored art and countless interruptions from the monkeys, and in Curse obviously from the amazing animated opening. EMI's opening credits (not including the great cinematics following) menu system, and "act" screens were pretty lackluster compared to the previous Monkey Islands, not to mention EMI's predecessor Grim Fandango. The credits and interface may be inconsequential for some, but its what the player first sees and really sets the tone for the rest of the playing experiences. First impressions are everything they say.
Don't let these negative points sway your opinion on the game as a whole though (I know they won't). EMI is up there in the series as far as humor and story goes, and is - with a few small exceptions - a splendor to look at.
Oh yeah, and Lucre Town looks like the Smurf village (From the outside. The insides of the buildings are looovely.).
My first impression? Well my first impression would have to be WOW! MONKEY ISLAND IN 3D! but my second… no make that third opinion would be this isn't really the same Monkey Island I know an love, but I'll be darned if it isn't a great adventure game.
The game luckily does away with the "find ship, find crew, get map" of earlier games, and gets right into the game. Starting off with a seemingly menial task such as meeting with the family lawyers, Guybrush is quickly pulled, once again into his piratey adventures. The Story is top notch; the strongest since the first, perhaps even second game, and the dialog is more gut-busting and more raunchy than ever (no small thanks to the minds who brought you the sick and twisted Sam and Max). The music is back, but feels a little rushed, I'd say 75% of the music is recycled and remixed (case in point; Pegnose Pete's theme belonged to Largo form MI2 and certain music from act 2 obviously taken from Sam and Max), but nonetheless enchanting and quite lovely, I would buy the soundtrack. Graphics are by far one of the strong points of EMI, nicely maintaining the distorted perspectives and swirly clouds of CMI.
The voiceovers are perfect, with exception to a few (Murray must've be getting old, he sounds increasingly like an irate senior citizen).
EMI's biggest shortcoming is the lack of respect for past incarnations. Many loved characters have returned such as your trusty ex-crew of Meathook, Carla the Swordmaster, and Otis, along with fan-favorite Murray the Mighty Demonic Skull (to go down in history with Boba Fett as the most famous and most useless, albeit entertaining, appearance of all time) and several others. But where I ask are Wally, Largo, the Cannibals, the Barbershop Quartet (trio?) from Plunder Isle, and for heavens sake WHERE are the Pirates of Low Moral Fiber???.
In-jokes aplenty, and many not just from LEC games, but all forms of pop culture. Luckily the game doesn't take itself too seriously and was never meant to from the start, with Guybrush constantly self aware of his existence as an adventure game character. In summation; Escape from Monkey Island, definitely worth your money, It is Abso-frickin-loutley one of the best Adventure games in recent memory, expect to lose touch with loved ones whilst playing. There are times however, you wonder if it is actually Monkey Island you're playing.
From the Moment I saw the fantastic Monkey / LucasGuy just before the Intro I knew I was going to be taken on a fantastic journey with my favourite adventure game series characters that would not disappoint me. So far Ihave been right! Only really one thing stand sout that annoys me, so ill get it over with now. The Controls.. suck.
Well to be fair its not the controls, its the way Guybrush decides to run off in the wrong direction as soon as he hits an obsticle, and at moments i have had to swear under my breath. - oh yeah and lack of a stunningly rendered intro ala CMI, and amusing monkeys in it ala MI2.
Aside from that the game has amazed me. From the graphics to the music, everything is so much better than i expected!
The movement of characters, and attention to detail is quite brilliant. Plus may I say that with FSAA on in 32bit colour this game looks so beautiful. For me the 3d has not detracted from the game at all, at the moment I can't say which I prefer (2d, 3d) but i can say that Monkey Island fans everywhere will love this game, fears of it being a poor sequel should be put away. I just hope the 2nd half of this game is as great as the first. Great job!
and finally , our special guest star
Ok, I will be honest… my first impression of EMI was one similar to this "Why is it so slow in 32bit colour!" Probably a bug in the Voodoo5 drivers, so after a few hours of fussing over settings I decided to actually play the game.
I pretty much expected the intro to be the same as the demo, and I was right for the most part apart from the pause for the first puzzle. I couldn't help but laugh at the solution, and then the chat between Guybrush and Elaine afterward really did have me giggling! So I gotta give a thumbs up for getting me laughing early on.
The graphics I have to say are very nice, certainly in 32bit colour. My only real complaint of what I've seen so far is that Melee Island really does have the buildings in all the wrong places. I know places change over time, but a while mountain disappeared from behind the Mansion and the water totally switched from the left side of the SCUMM bar to the right! Just being picky… but the things I love are these… EElaine's new voice (sooo funny), the Animation (so smooth with great gestures on the people) and, of course, the music! All in all, I'm loving it so far and can't wait to see how the story goes!
Oh yes… and Timmy, Timmy rules!/
So there you have it. This is what we thought.. what did you think ? leave a comment