In the fourth of six installments from Telltale Games freelance police Sam and Max are at it again in Sam and Max: Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die
In the fourth of six installments from Telltale Games freelance police Sam and Max are at it again in Sam and Max: Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die. This episode follows closely on the heels of the last, only a month between releases, and reflects a good deal of attention given to the feedback coming from fans of the game. Hints of the over arcing season plot flow through this episode, but it also comes with some unique twists that bring a nice freshness to the game helping it over the midseason hump and opening the way for an exciting end to the season in the last two episodes.
Don’t walk on the grass? Hah…we’re the heroes
We at the FBI do not have a sense of humor that we’re aware of
In this installment we greet our heroes in the middle of another game at the office. Last time it was throwing cards into the garbage, and this time its telephone pranks with the organic listening device that you bought in the last episode. I do like seeing some of the items from previous games carry over through episodes, though the inventory never gets so full that it’s a struggle to find what you want.
As usual the game is disturbed with a call from the commissioner with the latest problem facing our duo. It seems this time the president of the United States has gone a bit on the bonkers side declaring things such as ‘mandatory hugs during, before and after sporting events’. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark…or at least the State of the Union and Sam and Max are on the job and head out to the White House. It’s a fun change of pace to move quickly to a scene that we’re not familiar with as the other episodes have had you wandering the office and the stomping grounds near the office immediately. The plot thickens quickly as you come to find out that the president isn’t what you expect him to be and that the only hope for saving the world is if Max can win an emergency presidential election. Putting all of our hopes in the hands of an overly violent lagamorph? Yep, that exactly what we have in mind. I’d tell you the rest of the plot which twists and turns nicely, but the local representatives of the NSA, CIA, FBG, IRQ and CBS have made it clear that it’s a matter of national security not to tell, so all I can say is that you need to get playing and soon. Do it for the country!
That aside, the graphical and sound qualities of Abe Lincoln Must Die continue to be a quality product. The work that has gone into the first episodes has paid off in a feeling of consistency through each of the episodes and confidence in the collection. The voice acting for the game, particularly our dynamic duo is very well done, Sam losing nothing of his drawling accent and Max displaying enough perkiness to make you want to slap him…which Sam does when he gets in the way anyway. The jazz style soundtrack that has been used up to this point gets mixed up with presidential themes, which was a fun change though got a little old in spots where more time was spent puzzling out one bit or another.
I don’t wanna go!
Wizzer in politics? It’s a strange world we live in
Perhaps the strongest aspect of the Sam and Max franchise is the humor that’s related to the pair and their freelance hijinx, and the humor is definitely the highlight of Episode 4. Much of the dialog was written by Chuck Jordan of Curse of Monkey Island fame, and he manages to hit the nail very squarely on the head. With commentary ranging from the smell of chloroform to presidential dating possibilities the wit flows fast and there were several points that had me laughing out loud and going back to replay certain conversations all for the associated amusement. The technical game play remains much the same with plenty of object clicking for clues, inventory items and sardonic commentary and much running between scenes at the White House and the street near the office, along with puzzles and an arcade style car chase. I just can’t mention what’s being chased, that ‘matter of national security’ clause again.
There’s plenty of action that happens back at the office and street as well, making the game feel longer and more rounded out since you are given a good number of areas to explore. Sometimes the familiar setting can make things seem slow, but I honestly enjoy seeing the cast regulars of Bosco and Sybil and just what they’re upto now within the confines of the plot. I don’t know what Sybil will do in the next episode as she’s out of space on her sign for any more titles. As well we see that a new shop is open next to the inconvenience store, featuring none other than our color changing rainbow imagination friend Hugh Bliss, which gives another aspect of change to the familiar street.
The puzzles involved in the game aren’t overly difficult, but nor did I figure all of them out immediately so I felt like it was a good balance. When it’s Sam and Max you’re working with you have to think well out of the box and that’s where your solution will spring from, but there are patterns that can be seen through the games that give guidance as to which side of the box to go to.
Hrm…Max upto violent solutions. Only one life to give for his country
Gun control? Not Max’s thing
All in all Sam and Max Episode 4 is a very fun game for the buck. It’s a nice addition to the season arc, and likely my favorite of the four. At this time Telltale Games reports that they’re hoping to put out the other two episodes on a monthly schedule with the whole season available for purchase late spring. I know I’m saving a space for it on my gameshelf. If you haven’t started playing the season it may be worth waiting to get all six episodes at once, since you save a few pennies to do so, or if you have a slower connection the final season cut is rumored to be coming out on CD. Now, I have a country to save…again!
Top Gaming Moment:
TOP GAME MOMENT
My favorite part of the game has to be the musical number. This was something started in Episode three, but the musical bit in Ep 4 is even better, particularly if your funny bone is tickled by political quipery.