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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

Telltale Games / GameTap

 

Developer

GameTap

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

March 14, 2008

 

 

- May be the most complex, yet still cleverly and hilariously written episode yet

 

 

- Much easier to get from place to place (and time to time) using the elevator, but there’s a bit too much Muzak-flavored travel

 

 

Review: Sam & Max 203: Night of the Raving Dead (PC)

Review: Sam & Max 202: Maoi Better Blues (PC)

Review: Professor Layton and the Curios Village (DS)

 

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Sam & Max 204: Chariots of the Dogs

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

It’s a blast into the past for Sam and Max in Sam & Max 204: Chariots of the Dogs – and zooming back to the future, too, as time travel takes center stage in the newest episodic adventure for the zany anthropomorphic Freelance Police. This episode contains the most elaborate story ever, as each and every possible plot from season two is neatly strung together. Sam and Max are still smart-ass funny (just less so than in previous episodes), as they first search for the now-missing Bosco, he of the Inconvenience Store, and discover the source of Bosco’s paranoia –yes, we finally meet T-H-E-M!

 

chariots of the dogs          chariots of the dogs

 

There’s something for the sci-fi fan in Sam & Max 204: Chariots of the Dogs – flying saucers, time travel, even genetics gone wrong, courtesy of Ms. Bosco (Bosco’s mom, who Sam and Max encounter in the past).

 

One new addition to the standard point & clicking that has been the staple of all Sam and Max’s episodic adventures is the time machine elevator. Instead of

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bouncing from location to location by either having Sam and Max walk there or more commonly driving recklessly with the duo’s DeSoto, there’s an elevator that transports the heroes to each desired level. It’s much easier to get to and fro, and that’s very necessary, because gamers will be doing plenty of traveling in the past, present and future.

 

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Setting up a bookmarked link to Telltale Games’ website with the Sam & Max walkthroughs might be a good idea, because with all that traveling that Sam and Max will be doing comes a lot of “puzzles” which in turn creates many choke points throughout the game. Most puzzles are again clever, but there are others (again) that are much more cryptic and harder to figure out without a little hinting and helping.

 

chariots of the dogs          chariots of the dogs

 

As in all other season two episodes, expect to see a large contingent of returning characters, but there’s also a handful of new characters in Chariots of the Dogs as the screwball story unfolds, including the real Stinky, and a future Sam (who’s seems to suffer from dementia in his elder canine state) and Max.

 

Chariots of the Dogs is impressive in its story’s complexity while still retaining a good amount of the trademark Sam & Max humor (although because of the intricacy of tying so many plots neatly together, Chariots of the Dogs isn’t quite as rib-tickling funny as most previous episodes). With a fresh “time capsule” look at previously visited locales along with the T-H-E-M spaceship, there’s an “everything old is new” feel, and the time elevator travel from each place is simply a brilliant new gameplay element. In the climatic setup episode, the Sam & Max series is hitting its full stride as the duo heads into the season’s hot-as-hell finale (in Sam & Max 205: What’s New Beelzebub?).

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(April 8, 2008)

 

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