Sam and Max are at it again in the fifth of six episodes in the first season of Sam and Max
Sam and Max are at it again in the fifth of six episodes in the first season of Sam and Max.
I’m still terrified that we let Max be the President
Reality 2.0 picks up where Abe Lincoln Must Die left off with Max as the President of the United States, a fearful thought for everyone. Fortunately most of Max’s policies, foreign or domestic seem to have to do with giant robots and don’t interfere with his ability to join Sam doing freelance police work when the Commissioner calls. This time the commissioner’s telephone call brings news that the computers of the world have all gone wonky and that a major scary electron surge can be found right in Sam and Max’s neighborhood. What a coincidence – which Max is quick to point out. Once again the world is in peril and only the duo can solve the mystery.
It doesn’t take long before a visit to some familiar location and chats with familiar friend’s sets our heroes on the right path to visit the C.O.P.S. and find their way into Reality 2.0 a virtual reality game. Yes, we have a video game within a video game. Inside of Reality 2.0 they must figure out how to find the Internet and return computer functionality to the reality they’re most accustom to, even if Max’s grasp of it is fairly tenuous.
Reality 2.0 is definitely the strongest of the Sam and Max episodes showing a wonderful grasp of the black humor that makes the series so loveable, though definitely for teens and up. Even though we’re in familiar territory for most of the game the dialogue has been revamped so that we’re seeing new jokes for some of the same old items and the conversations remain fresh and funny. The graphical change over to Reality 2.0 gives a new life to the familiar office and street outside, both in look and feel with the VR reality adding popups, banners, brightly colored graphics, a train of zeroes and ones and shiny teeth for Max that may show up in a horror film. Even better is the number of references to various video game genres that are liberally found through the entire game in context, surroundings and puzzles. I won’t reveal the endgame, but fans of adventure gaming will recognize a nod to where adventure games started which was a brilliant touch.
Bosco, the…erm…half elf, Literally
Save point! I want one of those in Reality 1.0!
The puzzles aren’t overly difficult, though there are a couple which require multiple steps and some good interaction with the various sites on the board – it’s nice to see Lefty’s used as a location finally. They felt in step with the puzzles we’ve seen before in the series and seemed better connected to your forward progress in the game. The puns and video game genre stereotype tie ins, collecting coins and +2 swords for example, make these even more fun and satisfying.
Sound wise the voice acting continues to be strong and the theme music appropriate for either of the realities you’re visiting at the moment. I admit there were moments when the music of the digital world grated on my nerves a bit, but that might have had something to do with getting a phone call in the middle and having to listen to too many repetitions of the track. There is a musical number in this episode as well, though it wasn’t nearly as good as the previous two that we’ve seen…or maybe I just find dancing secret service agents more amusing than singing obsolete computer systems.
The graphics continue to hold up against the other episodes, perfect for the comic book roots of the series and smooth in movement and interaction. The change to a brighter ‘virtual’ world is well done and even though very different we can still recognize the familiar through the changes.
If you’re just jumping into the Sam and Max series at this point there may be a few references that you miss, but really not many. The games have been well written and go together, but are not so closely tied that you can’t pick up the basics from listening to the in game dialogue and exposition. I’d still highly encourage playing through the entire season, but if you’re going to take a chance on just one episode Reality 2.0 is a high place to start.
Like most adventure games Reality 2.0 is pretty much over when it’s over, so the replay ability is pretty limited. I generally find this series gets at least two plays if not three. One for basic story and a couple others for exploring some of the bits and bobs that I missed the first time through, but most of the fun is in that initial play. Still, as I’ve mentioned before, the price tag per episode is about the same as a movie and I found this much more fun than several of the films I’ve attended as of late. Or, if you want to wait, there will be a CD with all 6 episodes out later this year.
The internet wizard. I fear the giant head of Hugh Bliss
All hail the Internet!
All in all I’m very pleased with Reality 2.0 and am very excited for episode 6 and the end of the season. There’s a lot of arguments in the webosphere about the success of episodic gaming and the Sam and Max games show that it not only can be done, but can be done well. I just hope they get back to Reality 1.0 in time to keep Max’s giant robots from destroying South Dakota!
Top Gaming Moment:
SAM & MAX EPISODE 5: REALITY 2.0 VERDICT
For those that haven’t been following this adventure game franchise Sam and Max started as a comic and were picked up to the video screen 1993 with the adventure game Sam and Max Hit the Road. Most recently Telltale Games picked up the intrepid duo and brought them back for a season of games starting in October of 2006 with Episode 1: Culture Shock. Since then four other episodes have been created, leading to Episode 5: Reality 2.0 which just came out and is the subject of this particular review. Everyone with me? Good.
TOP GAME MOMENT
There are so many great gaming moments in Reality 2.0 that it’s hard to pick just one. Creating the rat cannon was a sure fire giggle and I loved collecting coins al la Mario in order to pay Bosco for his latest sales item.