Sam & Max: Save the World Review
Sam & Max: Save the World is actually a series of episodic games originally released on the PC in one package for Xbox Live Arcade. With it, you'll get six somewhat self-contained point-and-click adventures, each with a constant theme that exists to tie them all together. They share locations, assets, characters and voices. Noting that this is a port from the PC is very important as it is still a point-a-click adventure game. Instead of trying to shoehorn some other control scheme on top of this very mouse specific title, Telltale opted to just have your 360's gamepad control a cursor just as if you were moving it with a mouse, just way less accurate. While this may very well be the best approach for the type of game, it completely sucks. What exacerbates the issue is that often you'll find yourself trying to click on a very small item, or locate a hidden object somewhere on the screen.
In terms of visuals, Telltale has kept very close to the original game while bringing it into three dimensions; its all very whimsical and cute and there are plenty of sight gags laying around. One thing that I felt was odd was that there are clear issues with the engine. While most of the game runs silky smooth, it will stutter in the same spots all the time. Make sure you watch for it when leaving your office. Technical issues aside, the world (as small as it is) is well realized and nicely designed and the characters do all have a bit of charm on their own.
But of course, you don't play these games for the gameplay, you play them for the humor and the story right? Well, even when I made it past the control issues, I found the majority of the one liners to be somewhat forced and uninspired only laughing to myself a few times. The later episodes do a much better job at delivering the material (Reality 2.0 was probably the best of the bunch). Using the stock audio options as well, the horn heavy soundtrack would often drown out the character dialog at particularly "action filled" moments. Your exploits as Sam and Max will let you see your local block plenty of times, talking to the same people, and traveling to one unique environment per episode as you foil dastardly plots by some crazy folks and ultimately as the title states, save the world.
That's about all there is to it. Giving away much more would be ruining the only thing this game may have going for it (the plot). Its been mentioned before that creating humor in video games is a difficult thing to pull off, and when you're banking on dialog to drive your game but it doesn't resonate with the player (me) you've got a tired, archaic, and downright boring game. I admire what Telltale is trying to do, and being a huge player of many adventure games in my youth, in theory it sounds like something I would have been all for. I can't help but think though that this type of game does not have a place in the current landscape of titles. Do yourself a favor and try the demo first, if you dig the humor and the characters, there's a great chance you will like this game. I however, didn't.
- Looks pretty good
- Lots of content for your dollar
- Forced humor is very hit or miss
- Tedious interface and dated design
- Framerate hitches a bit too much for something as fixed as this
- There's a reason that people don't make games like this anymore