I remember receiving the demo copy of EMI... it was the happiest day of my life…
Okay, so not quite… but nearly! To say I was excited about receiving my package of the full game from across seas would be an understatement.
When it finally arrived, I stuck it in the drive and played. And played. And played.
It was great.
I got Monkey Island imported from Canada, and you can read about my excitement and other feelings in my review (coming shortly). I got it later than others and thoroughly enjoyed playing it (again, see my review).
By the time I was on the second island, Lucre, the forums and comments pages were full of people needing help from the game, and a lot of them not liking this game one bit. There are reasons of course not to like this game, but from my vantage point, I'd found only one. The graphics were beautiful on my Geforce, the FSAA preventing me from seeing the horrible aliasing problems that make me hate the LEC 3D Engine so much. The gameplay was great, funny with a good plot and great voice acting. What was my problem, then? That's right, the control system. I would have thought they could have sorted this out since Grim Fandango, but it didn't happen. Making Guybrush run and still expecting him to be able to head in any direction you actually want him to is evidently far too much to expect. When he hits an object, he instantly turns to face another way and runs off, the speedy turning of which cannot be achieved when you'd actually like it to. Although it annoyed me a lot, it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the game - I didn't let it. I was far too involved in the game. I was having a great time!
A lot of other people, however, hated this game…lost continuity, different atmosphere, wrong design.
To be fair, you have to remember that this is the third set of designers to tackle the creation of this game, and with each new designer, the style has changed. CMI was different from the first 2 games as much as EMI is different from CMI. Each new designer or team of designers brings their own feel, and with them this time came Mike Stemmle and Sean Clark's twisted Sam and Max humour. For me, their humour and style of puzzling worked fantastically; they continually made reference to films, subtlety and un-subtlety, ("Iron Maiden? Excellent" being one of my favourites) and thought up wacky puzzles, mindlessly stupid items for the inventory and great scripts for the very animated and funky characters.
The main issue I hear people moan about is lost continuity:
Although towards the end of the game, continuity was lost a little, I don't think it matters so much that it should twist your feelings toward the entire game.
Remember how much everyone whined about the ending of CMI? "Why did Guybrush look so weird? What happened to his kick-ass beard? Why did everything look entirely different? What the hell? Big Whoop was what?? You're joking, that's insane!"
Now, all this is accepted because the playing experience was enjoyable. It was a great adventure game. For some, their favourite in the series, even despite blatant plot holes and the most random follow on plot.