Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: Le Chuck's Revenge
MI2 returns nearly 20 years after it's original release with a Special Edition, but what's so special about it? Well the answer is just about everything. MI2 was already an outstanding game with a fantastic story, script, puzzles, graphics and music, but the special edition improves by offering you all of that as well as HD graphics, re-mastered soundtrack, full voice acting, a layered hints system, object highlighting, developer commentary, achievements and unlockable concept art. As well as the improvements the game features a refined control system and inventory screen.
The original was a stunning looking game for it's time with it's colourful and richly detailed backgrounds and characters but the new presentation brings it bang up to date with widescreen HD visuals that retain the charm of the original's 256 colour graphics. There are some cool difference here and there that are mostly nods to other LucasArts titles; A Sam (of Sam & Max fame) costume hanging in a costume shop is replaced by a Purple Tentacle (Day of the Tentacle) and a generic photo in Governor Phatt's house is now a photo of Manny Calavera from the brilliant Grim Fandango.
Music has always been one of the highlights of the MI series and the re-mastered soundtrack sounds brilliant. The most noticeable audio aspect about MI2SE however is of course the voice acting. The game now has a full voice-over and it's arguably the best improvement on the SE. Dominic Armato and Earl Boen reprise their roles as Guybrush and Le Chuck which is outstanding news but people who've played The Curse of Monkey Island, Escape From Monkey Island or indeed The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition will recognise returning actors for Elaine, Wally, Voodoo Lady and Stan. The cast do a great job bringing the characters to life and even if like me you've played MI2 countless times before, the voice acting alone really makes the Special Edition a worthwhile purchase.
Playing the game is a lot easier now that the list of verbs has been replaced by a dial which opens up when you hold down the right mouse button. The menu is context sensitive so it will only give you options applicable to what you clicked on. Every object in the game has a default action so you only need to click once to perform it. For example the default action for any people is 'Talk To'. The inventory has also been replaced, by a pop-up window controlled with the middle mouse button. These changes leave the game screen completely unobstructed giving you a full view of the game. A press of the F1 key switches between the enhanced special edition version of the game and the original classic version. The process is seamless and it's a real joy flicking back and forth, looking at the how the screens have been updated. If you wish you can enable voice acting in the classic version so this wont cut out when you switch between the two versions.
The hints system and object highlighting provide a crutch for beginners or a gentle nudge in the right direction for seasoned veteran's. The hints system will go from the most subtle of clues to flat out telling you exactly what you have to do, depending on how many times you use it per situation. The object highlighting adds a glow to objects you need to interact with. This can be handy when you dont realise there's an object you didn't pick up and dont realise you need it.
The game itself is one of the greatest of all time. The characters, plot and script are some of the best you'll ever come across. The game picks up shortly after the events of the first game. Elaine left Guybrush and he's stuck on Scabb Island - run by the bully and former henchman of Le Chuck, Largo Le Grande. Despite these circumstances Guybrush is still determined to find the legendary treasure of Big Whoop. Adventure games live and die based on their puzzles and the puzzles here are almost always logical if at times a little silly. There's only one I can think of that is so cryptic I consider it to be 'unfair'.
Overall it's a truly phenomenal package and unprecedented good value for money. Suitable for fans of adventure games, comedy, pirates and video games in general.