sunnuntai 22. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - Monkey Island 2 - Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge (2010)

Genre(s): Adventure
Released: 2010
Available on: PC, PS3, X360
Developer(s): LucasArts
Publisher(s): LucasArts
Players: 1

As a little kid, I loved console games. I loved console games so much that I couldn’t understand how anyone could play anything using a keyboard, a mouse and/or a joystick instead of an all-purpose controller that you could just grab and melt your ass into the sofa or the living room floor. However, I loved the way home computer games looked. Especially point ‘n’ click games, these so called “graphic adventures”. You could say I was with Monkey Island from the very start. I read a walkthrough of The Secret of Monkey Island over and over again, even though I had no idea how the game was like, and stared at the promotional stills like a ghost. The game just looked and sounded so damn cool. In 1991, the same magazine that was responsible for this classy-looking walkthrough, gave about 96-98 points to Monkey Island 2, and soon named it the best game of all time, across all platforms. Somehow I believed that. Years later, I finally got my hands on a Monkey Island game, namely The Curse of Monkey Island, which I loved and still love, to this day, but I surprisingly found myself even more intrigued with the old games than I ever was. First, there was The Secret of Monkey Island, which I enjoyed very much. Then, there was Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, which downright blew my head off my shoulders. Now, in 2010, Monkey Island 2 returns. In high definition. With spoken dialogue. Me? I shit bricks, and love doing it.

The return of the masterpiece – and the strangest ending ever

Dominic Armato : Guybrush Threepwood
Alexandra Boyd : Governor Elaine Marley
Earl Boen : Zombie Pirate LeChuck
Neil Ross : Wally B. Feed
Phil LaMarr : Captain Dread
James Arnold Taylor : Largo LaGrande
Leilani Jones : The Voodoo Lady
Wally Wingert : Herman Toothrot
Patrick Pinney : Stan

Guybrush Threepwood, now a mighty pirate – in his own mind – travels the world in search of the fabled treasure of Big Whoop, keeping ghost pirate LeChuck’s beard with him as a memento of his greatest battle, and using it to gloat to just about everyone he meets on his travels. Guybrush doesn’t realize that all LeChuck needs to come back from the dead is one piece of living tissue from his body. Guybrush unknowingly steps on the toes of LeChuck’s former henchman, who manages to steal the beard and resurrect his former boss. Guybrush continues his treasure hunt with a vengeful nemesis breathing down his neck, as well as an old flame who has some fish to fry with him as well...

It’s needless to say at this point, assuming you’ve read any of the earlier reviews, that I have wanted this game to happen for well over a decade. Someone asked me “which game would you like to see remade?”, I yelled out “Monkey Island 2” in under a tenth of a nanosecond. We didn’t NEED the remake, as Monkey Island 2 was still, despite its lack of audiovisual prowess, the best game in the series. Yet, it’s more than just good to have around. Not only will some uptight hi-fi assholes who “can’t bear” the old school game finally be able to grow a pair and see the game as the masterpiece it is, but we veterans get those priceless dialogues, for the first time spoken to us by the very same actors that have been there for the past decade, getting prepared to do something this awesome. Now how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood...?

The International House of Mojo.
From the very options handed to you, you know this game is going to be a lot more thought out than the previous one. Voiceover work can be carried over to Classic Mode if the player wishes so, and Guybrush’s movement, now primarily controlled with the analog stick, can optionally be controlled with the classic cursor, which turns out nearly mandatory in the jungle maze, since Guybrush can very easily take the wrong path whenever there are two parallel ones. The user interface is still a bit quirky, but notably better than the one in the previous game – I’ll get back to it in a bit.

The graphics are still mid-school stuff combining high quality PNG-based environments with 3D characters, but it’s all a bit smoother than in the previous Special Edition. Some of the scenes in the original game require fleshed out, swift character animation, such as the final “battle”, and they have been recreated very nicely indeed. Voiceover work, as mentioned, is phenomenal. I’ve met a couple of guys on the Internet who love the original game so much that they simply can’t bear listening to the punchlines that made their childhood, but I’ve personally always WANTED to hear them, so I most definitely can’t and won’t complain. Among others, voiceover veterans Phil LaMarr and James Arnold Taylor step in to provide voices for characters we’ve never heard speak before. The music, however, is a bit of a letdown. The classic yet scarce instrumental themes sound excellent, of course, but the singing in the legendary “bone song” and Bart and Fink’s collection of pirate songs is just horrible. They could’ve rearranged the songs, and not just plant sung lyrics on top of the old melodies, at least I wouldn’t have minded.

Would you buy a used coffin from this man?
I nearly hated the user interface they came up with for the previous game. This one’s much better, but like I said, it has its quirks – they come up in certain scenes that demand fast action. The SCUMM menu’s gone completely, now you have only the “speed dial” and inventory to worry about. The way the “speed dial” works this time is that you look for an item on the screen, let’s say the shovel in the first playable screen of the game – the PS3 version. By pressing R2 you open up all the functions you’re able to apply – “use”, “look at”, “pick up”. You choose the function with the right analog stick and the X button. The inventory itself is also very easy to handle for the most part, but it, as well as choosing the correct function in the modern version, are tough elements to manage in a rush, and all of you who have played the original game know damn well that the final showdown of the game is based on extremely quick reflexes and train of thought. So, it’s back to the Classic Mode in that one, for me at least. Of course, whole new players might adapt more easily.

Aboard Dread's ship.
I know everything there is to this game and I could’ve easily beaten it in under three hours as one of the Trophies once again prompts, yet I was so fascinated with the spoken dialogue that I deliberately stalled and listened to each possible line, ending up with 95% of the Trophy set after clashing the game through on one single sitting. This makes the game sound easy, I know, but that it certainly isn’t. Some of the puzzles are actually downright hellish. I just know the game too well to find it challenging, personally. I even surprised myself with my instant, well memorized solutions to each puzzle in the game even if it had been over two years since I last played it. I still enjoyed every moment of the game. This is dead on the remake (once again, “SPECIAL EDITION!”) that I’ve been waiting for, for all these years. One of the best tens I ever spent.

I still love the original game more, due to this one’s quite functional but still rough-edged interface; however, this version graces me with the options to have all I would ever want out of it: the option to go back to Classic Mode AND hear the voiceover work, which I consider the most important part of both Special Editions. No purist alive can condemn this game, ‘cause this time the developers thought of everyone from them to new players. I must give my points out solely to the new conversion instead of the game as a whole – but don’t let it fool you too much. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge is back, and shines as one of the greatest downloadable titles ever to grace the networks it’s available on. I feel this is one game you should consider downloading for your PC instead of a console, since point ‘n’ click still doesn’t feel the same on TV, no matter how well the game’s done.

Graphics : 9.1
Sound : 9.0
Playability : 8.9
Challenge : 9.0
Overall : 9.0


GameRankings: 85.50% (PC), 84.75% (PS3), 82.64% (X360)

World of Monkey Island has an extensive list of all of the game's numerous references to pop culture.

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