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Sam & Max Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die! Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Telltale Games
developer: Telltale Games
genre: Adventure

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PIII 800, 256MB RAM, 230MB HDD, 32MB video card
ESRB rating: n/a
homepage:
www.telltalegames.com/samandmax/lincolnmustdie

release date: Feb 22, 07
» All About Sam & Max Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die! on ActionTrip


Playing the first three episodes consecutively felt like a good idea and that's what we did. All in all, it was an entertaining ride and it was plain enough that Telltale Games succeeded in recreating the characters of Sam & Max. Now we are treated to the latest episode, Abe Lincoln Must Die. Has the series made any progress? Let's find out.

Sam & Max Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die kicks off with our two protagonists making a rather disturbing prank-call, which involves a phone receiver and Bosco's listening device. To those of you who don't know, Bosco is one of the characters with a cameo in every episode, each time taking on a different identity in order to fool alleged conspirators - he went from a hardnosed Brit and an avid Frenchy, to a rather serious-looking Russian. Anyhow, back to the case. Sam picks up the receiver and continues talking to the Commissioner. Quick as a flash, the two freelance detectives are bestowed with a new mission, which involves none other than the president of the United States himself. Before you know it, Sam & Max park their car on the sidewalk in front of the White House. Entering, however, won't be easy since it is guarded by a tireless federal agent, codenamed Super Bowl.

If you've played through the first three episodes, you'll notice a few step ups from the get go. The series has advanced in terms of humor, which, as it turns out, is largely due to the presence of Chuck Jordan, who wrote a great deal of the dialogue in this episode (we all know Chuck for his contribution to Curse of the Monkey Island). Quite frankly, the game made me laugh a lot more than in earlier installments. There's a bunch of witty insinuations and remarks related to the United States government and repeated gags associated with the Oval Office, the US presidency and, most naturally, the presidential election, this time featuring two top candidates - Max, who's running against the giant resurrected rock-strewn version of Abraham Lincoln (who, surprisingly, has a really good campaign going). Conversations between the characters are a lot more funny and it seems additional effort was poured into refreshing the series with even wackier humor.

On the puzzle front, there's still nothing particularly innovative. In certain situations, problems are a tad more difficult than in earlier iterations. However, as time goes by, going through the game won't be all that difficult since most key objects you collect frequently offer an evident solution to the problem at hand. This symptom is sadly present in every episode released so far. Another self-evident setback is that in order to enjoy the new adventure, players must revisit an array of all-too-familiar locations. Even though recognizable characters are hilarious and always fun to converse with, paying them yet another visit seems like a dull concept and soon becomes wearisome. I'm sure most players are going to expect new locations, new characters and more challenges in terms of puzzle solving, as the series goes forth to chapters 5 and 6. I only hope they mend some of these shortcomings, to give good old Sam & Max a well-deserved tribute. Not that Telltale hasn't done a good job of it. It was definitely a freaky ride thus far, like I've said. Fans of classic adventure games will surely seek greater challenges than what Episode 4 throws their way.

A few years ago, anyone who said there's good humor in video games, would've been laughed out of town. Thanks to Telltale Games, we are reminded of the more traditional values of entertainment. Witticisms dispensed by both Sam and Max and the stunts they pull off are liable to make you giggle on a number of occasions. The developers successfully draw on these elements and, in that respect, we've seen a decent step forward.

It doesn't take too long to finish the episode. In other words, the short lifespan of individual episodes is a drawback once again. But, even with all the glaring omissions related to mostly unchallenging puzzles and a generally repetitive setting, Telltale Games is successfully keeping up the pace and continually offers splendid dialogue and trademark wisecracks from the two main characters. Owing to these advantages, I honestly don't see why you shouldn't give it a whirl. In the end, it's worth the visit, given the game's excellent humor, brilliant characterization and, of course, the fetching price of $8.95 per episode. It's a fair bargain.

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7.9   Good


HIGHS
The humor is getting better and better, cool story and characters;

LOWS
Returning to the same locations, as before a single episode ends just as it gets going, puzzles tend to be easier than we initially expected.

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