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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

Telltale / GameTap

 

Developer

Telltale Games

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

April 12, 2007

 

 

- Writing (including self-depreciating humor) continues to be hilariously stellar

- Spectacular new visual treatment during goggle-wearing adventuring

 

 

- Ending proves to be very anticlimactic leading into the season’s final episode

- Unlike predecessor, doesn’t take long to complete (similar to earlier episodes)

 

 

Review: Sam & Max: Abe Lincoln Must Die! (PC)

Review: Sam & Max: The Mole, The Mob, and the Meatball (PC)

Review: Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (DS)

 

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Sam & Max: Reality 2.0

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

Sam and Max get slapped with a dose of reality – virtual that is – in the fifth episode of the adventuring exploits of the Freelance Police duo. Already, they’ve battled and beat hypnotic teddy bears, psychotic talk show hosts, even the neurotic come-to-life Lincoln Memorial, all players and pawns in a growing plot to ensnare the populace into mind-controlled obedience.

 

sam & max reality 2.0          sam & max reality 2.0

 

In Sam & Max: Reality 2.0, our zany twosome face their most powerful foe yet – the Internet herself (the Internet is indeed a woman)! Yes, even the Internet’s in on the whole season’s theme of hypnotic control, as Ms. WWW is trying to use the Reality 2.0 online game, complete with virtual goggles, to succeed in total mind control where all other evil hypnotism plots have failed.

 

Sam’s the doggy detective along with his partner Max, the screwiest bunny around (sorry, Bugs, Max is even screwier than you!) who also just happens to be the current President of the United States, having defeated the Lincoln Memorial in a

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special election once the current president literally lost his head (as seen in the previous episode, Abe Lincoln Must Die!).

 

Once again, Sam & Max: Reality 2.0 shines with its uproariously funny writing (even though the ending is somewhat anticlimactic in setting up the finale), including some self-depreciating wit. Although it doesn’t top was has been the side-splittingly, rib-tickling best-written

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episode to date, Abe Lincoln Must Die!, it certainly is very laughable, providing the defining quality of gaming comedy that the new series (as well as the old-school game) has become famous for.

 

The usual suspects make a return in Sam & Max: Reality 2.0, including Sylvia (on her umpteenth job, this time as a beta tester for Reality 2.0), Bosco (with yet another voice disguise, now a medieval WarCraftish dialect), Jimmy the rat, Hugh Bliss and Myra Stump. There are a few newcomers joining the aforementioned Internet, all of the artificial intelligence variety: an old computer, a telephone, a Pong-style gaming console and an outdated arcade game.

 

sam & max reality 2.0          sam & max reality 2.0

 

Taken in its entirety, this is the best of the episodes so far, just barely topping Abe Lincoln Must Die!, but only by virtue of the slim width of a falling chad. Along with the usual stellar storytelling that sees our hero pair go into the heart of darkness known as the Internet to power down the newest threat to free will everywhere, the developer gives Sam & Max: Reality 2.0 a fresh new coat of virtually colored paint accounting for the time that Sam and Max spend in virtual reality via the goggles. Visually, this may be the most impressive Sam & Max episode yet.

 

Just as before, gameplay isn’t much of an hour-eating affair, clocking in around two hours to complete, which goes back to the norm for the first three episodes while disappointingly straying from the longer gaming session to be had in Abe Lincoln Must Die!

 

Puzzles aren’t too difficult either, although many require flipping back and forth between the “real” world and the “virtual” world. But a few are the funniest yet seen in any episode, including a slight rip on Nintendo’s flagship character Mario’s penchant for collecting coins, turn-based combat role-playing games, and a chuckle-filled homage to the text-based adventuring genre long gone from gaming.

 

Sadly, after completing Reality 2.0, I realized that there was just one more episode to go in the series. Man, gaming time flies when you’re having fun! But shortly, we’ll be loony with lunar laughs in episode 6, Bright Side of The Moon, the culmination of what has proved to be a triumphant comeback for both Sam & Max and point & click adventures while firmly establishing what true episodic gaming really is.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(April 25, 2007)

 

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