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PLATFORM: Xbox Live Arcade
ESRB RATING: T
DEVELOPER:
Telltale Games
PUBLISHER: Xbox Live Arcade

THE PITCH
 
Sam and Max are the Freelance Police! They’re a strange duo that don’t actually seem to do a whole lot of policework, but their cases inevitably lead to them helping out the world.

Since their first season charmed PC gamers in late 2006 through 2007 console gamers have felt left out, but after hitting the Wii and now the Xbox Live Arcade, there’s no excuse not to have played the series that single-handedly saved adventure games.

Unless you only own a PS3. Sorry!
   
THE PLAY
 
Sam and Max Save the World is a point and click adventure game, so using a controller rather than a mouse might scare some players off. It shouldn’t, though- they cleverly let the cursor move at a good clip so that you’re never stuck dragging it around the screen. They’ve also let Sam run now with a double click (something started in the second season), and there are hotkeys for opening your inventory and scrolling through dialog. The few driving sequences also use the analog stick now, and feels much more natural than the stilted keyboard movement. So never fear, the controls work just fine without your precious mouse.


CHUDTIP- Our heroes are always strapped. Just try not to dwell on where Max hides his gun.


I’ve written before countless times in the past about what an incredible series of games these are, so just reading that review will save you the trouble of hearing me gush all over again.

Oh hell, I can’t help it.

Three years later the games still hold up beautifully. While you can clearly see that Telltale is building on all its previous titles (Tales of Monkey Island is possibly their best yet) and this first “season” suffers from some repetition, the dialog is still top-notch, frequently laugh out loud funny and always enjoyable. Playing through it again a second time allows you to do things you didn’t try the first, and amazingly it never gets old.

THE PRESENTATION

The graphics have been upgraded in minor ways (better bump mapping), and the game is now presented in widescreen HD. It will look and sound great on your big tv.


CHUDTIP- Reality 2.0 is probably the best episode of the bunch. Wait till you get to the text adventure.


Unfortunately, some strange bugs mar the experience such as graphical slowdown and dialog that gets clipped off.  They happen more frequently than you’d like but are nowhere near enough to mar the experience.
 
THE REPLAY

Like any great adventure game, you’ll want to go back to this one every couple of years. I had already forgotten some of the puzzles and got stumped a few times, and got completely sucked back into their adventures.

Of course, once you’re done with it, you’re done for while. But with six episodes containing 20+ hours of gameplay, you really can’t go wrong here. The 1600 Microsoft points/$20 price point tag might make people balk, but remember that it was originally 35 bucks on the PC (although it’s been reduced to the same price there now.) At 475 megs, it’s also possibly the largest game on the service just yet.
 
Xbox’s achievements allows for a few fun ones that include trying to show your unicorn to everyone in the last episode (“Want to rub my unicorn?”) and encourage gamers to try new things in the game. But the majority are taken up by standard “Beat the episode!” achievements- if only there were more fun ones!
 


CHUDTIP- It’s not easy to beat the statue of the most popular president of all time in an election, but thankfully our boys don’t play fair. 

 
There’s also surprisingly online leaderboards, one that records how
many lines of dialogue you manage to hear during your playtime and pits
you against your friends.Try and beat my score of 2334!

THE VERDICT


It’s thanks to this series that adventure games are bouncing back, so if you haven’t yet paid tribute to the talking dog and hyper-kinetic rabbity-thing, this is your chance. It’s just a shame that a few bugs ruin what’s otherwise a near-perfect series. Thankfully Telltale apparently knows what’s wrong and has corrected it for the second season, which is on the way.

The Xbox Live Arcade has needed a game like this for a long time. With all the substance and depth of a full retail game, gamers looking for something different can do no wrong.
 

9.5 out of 10