Sam & Max reviewed... 24 Oct, 2006, 20:53 / 5 comments

... kind of. See, FTP is still not running on Mojo's ailing server, and we need FTP to post reviews. The stop-gap solution? Post the review right here, after the cut!<:MORENEWS:>

It was the solution worthy of an adventure game; the aging laptop I use for my limited PC gaming was overheating every twenty minutes, making it nigh on impossible to get any enjoyment out of the latest Sam & Max romp. The solution? Freeze a wet towel, wrap it in a dry blanket, and keep it under the computer while playing. Shockingly enough it worked, the laptop did not overheat.

As for Culture Shock, it's good. Very good. It's difficult to compare it to the ten hour long original Sam & Max game, but at this first step of season one I'd say it looks like the episodic treatment of the franchise might make up a better experience.

I'm not going to waste anybody's time with inconsequential fluff about the story, etc., seeing that most Mojo readers already knows what that is all about. In stead, I present the theory that there are three "obstacles" you will have to overcome to enjoy Culture Shock. They are...

One! The episodic format.

Yes, Sam & Max is even more extreme than Bone when it comes to short (though this time around more frequently released) episodes. This first installment will for most people take no longer than two hours to complete, largely because the puzzles are very simple, although you can certainly prolong the experience by interacting with everything multiple times, as well as driving around hitting stuff with the DeSoto. Some might label the latter an "action sequence" but I call it fun.

Anyhow, if owning a two hour game is something you consider a major problem, then fair enough; this might not be the game for you. For me it wasn't a big deal at all, as those two hours are full of humor and wacky characters. While I had some issues with lines in the Bone games falling flat, I really did not notice such a problem in Culture Shock where almost every punch-line delivers at least a chuckle or a grin. This is easily the funniest game I've played since Psychonauts.

I guess playing a game that is constantly entertaining for two hours is better for me than one that's fifteen hour without any entertainment value. And hey, the thing will obviously be out on hard media some day.

Two! The voices.

This is a rather subjective point, but Sam and Max's new voices grew on me quickly. Heck, Max is probably voiced better than he was in the original game. The supporting cast is, like in Bone, more of a mixed bag, but without ever detracting too much from the game play. Odds are that you will be too busy digging the fantastic soundtrack to notice the shortcomings anyway.

Three! Don't look now, but it's the 21st century.

Yes, it's 3d. Are anybody actually afraid of that anymore? I will admit that the screenshots looked a bit plastic-y to me, but everything seems to have been cleaned up nicely for the final game. Actually, "cleaned up" might be the exact opposite of what happened; "grunged up" might be a better expression. The engine seems to have undergone some improvements also, and moving around the environments feels more cinematic than it did in the earlier TTG games.

I'm fairly certain most anybody who can live with these three points will end up having a great time with Culture Shock, particularly if you are a fan of the slightly edgier tone of the comic-books. (I can only assume that LucasArts wanted a more family friendly game; Culture Shock seems to be more akin to the original material.)

This is really quite a good game, easily TTG's best. I have a feeling it will go down well with the thousands of people who lamented the cancelation of Freelance Police.

(Four skulls out of five.)



  • scabbzo on 09 Nov, 2006, 21:58…
    4 skulls! Remi is no fan boy! He's like, a serious reviewer.
  • jmartin on 27 Oct, 2006, 17:20…
    I also really enjoyed it. I agree that some of the puzzles were a little easy, but as whole it was a great experience. I actually found it to be a very satisfying lengh... for me it took probably almost twice as long as the first Bone game. I started it one night, solved a few puzzles, and looked around a bit admiring the animations and the backgrounds. The second night I spent about 2 hours, just looking at everything, interacting with the characters, and solving the a good portion of the puzzles. I then left it and finished it last night. Unlike Out from Boneville it had a very satisfying story arch that reached a climax and left me feeling quite satisfied with the ending (rather than Bone's abruptness). After I was done, I actually felt like I finished a complete Sam and Max adventure -> I think by spreading it out rather than rushing through the puzzles made it very satisfying for me.

    The fact that we get 6 of these for a very reasonable price is an awesome deal.
  • telarium on 25 Oct, 2006, 13:35…
    I was really impressed... definitely the most promising thing out of TTG yet. The Bone games were going in the right direction, but this is the first time I think the old LucasArts era has been successfully recaptured... for the most part, at least. Put in some harder puzzles next time and maybe some interactive music functionality and we're there.
  • Shmargin on 25 Oct, 2006, 06:35…
    only 4 skulls??!?! I demand a recount.

    Playing this game made me feel like I was transported back in time with my futuristic (ie, the present) computer to a period when a game comapny knew what a story was, and not just caring about how many light sources they can have casting shadows at one time.

    Puzzles may have been a little easy, but as Tell Tale gets input, Im sure theyll listen and deliver in the end.

    5 Paper Sack Space Helmets out of 5.
  • Gabez on 26 Oct, 2006, 12:52…
    Maybe they could do a hard/easy mode a la MI2 and CMI.