Review: Tales of Monkey Island: The Siege of Spinner Cay (PC)

Tales of Monkey Island: The Siege of Spinner Cay
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: 08/20/2009

If you were already a PC gamer in the 90’s, then you have heard of Guybrush Threepwood and his series, Monkey Island. Renowned for its offbeat humour and memorable characters, the franchise has been left in the cold for nearly a decade. The situation was rectified in July when the first episode of Tales of Monkey Island was released to universal praises. In fact, our very own Ashe Collins gave it a pretty glowing review.

With the series switching to an episodic format, the only question that remains is if Telltale Games can keep the quality level high through the entire run. Let’s find out how they fared with Episode 2.

STORY:

We find Guybrush on his brand new boat, the Screaming Narwhal, exactly where we left him last time. The Voodoo Pox is still running rampant, and the curse has effectively taken control of his hand. While pursuing Elaine, he notices that LeChuck has effectively been turned human and apparently became a pretty decent fellow. He must now team with his nemesis to find three ancient relics that will guide them to La Esponja Grande, a mythical sponge that seems to hold the secret to the Pox cure.

As usual, the results are quite hilarious, and the story unfolds with the appropriate twists and turns to keep things interesting. The writing for this new installment of Monkey Island is top-notch and shows that Telltale Games have a true understanding of the spirit of the series and a knack for funny dialogue. The ending comes out of nowhere and keeps you interested for the upcoming third episode. If you played the first episode, you’ll be happy to know that this one keeps up with the rhythm. If you didn’t, then this is a good entry point, but it will doubtlessly make you want to play the first one.

Story/Modes Rating: Classic

GRAPHICS:

The 3D characters are polished, but still look a little bit crude. The cartoonish look is appealing and appropriate for the atmosphere that the game conveys, but there are sometimes issues with the characters’ faces when the camera gets too close. Still, Threepwood and company remain charming despite minor flaws to the models.

As for the backgrounds, they are equally charming and cartoonish, made up with vivid colours and more than enough details to stay sharp. There doesn’t seem to be any issue with them at all, and if there were, well, they weren’t distracting enough to warrant my attention. All in all, the graphics are beautiful, if somewhat rudimentary.

Graphics Rating: Enjoyable

SOUND:

My main problem with the sound is the lack of synchronization that appears sporadically between the characters’ lips and what they are saying. However, this is a minor issue that doesn’t happen often enough to become annoying. It just sometimes breaks the immersion sensation when you are really starting to get into it all.

The voice acting is superb all the way through, with great performances from everybody involved. Thankfully, none of the actors seem bored or stiff, which is a big problem I have with many adventure games. The good acting really helps to bring this game’s universe to life.

As for the background music, it doesn’t annoy, but it doesn’t stand-out either.

Sound Rating: Incredible

GAMEPLAY:

The game uses the standard PC gaming “WASD” scheme to move the character around, as well as the mouse to interact with objects. Everything else is also handled by the mouse, from talking to other characters to managing your inventory. It’s an adventure game after all, and control-wise, it doesn’t stray far from the genre’s established conventions.

As for the gameplay, it is also your usual adventure fare, but with a humorous twist. You talk to everybody you meet to pick up clues and choose different lines to speak depending on what you want to accomplish. Even if you miss the boat on some clues, the dialogue options will be available until you finally complete what was asked of you, so there’s no real way to fail here. I have no real issue to report with the characters movements or concerning issues with the mouse work: everything works flawlessly in this area, just as it did in the first episode. If it’s not broken, why fix it?

Gameplay Rating: Great

REPLAYABILITY:

This is really a one-shot deal, and you play this one game as a small part of a bigger story. It is really just a small part of Tales of Monkey Island, more or less 2 hours of gameplay in total. Once it’s done, there really is no reason to come back to this one, unless you really appreciate the dialogue and wish to hear it again. Otherwise, there is nothing to collect and nothing to unlock. There is simply a hilarious story that unfolds as you play through the first time. While it really is a great story, I can’t really see the appeal in playing through it twice.

Replayability Rating: Poor

BALANCE:

If taken simply as a series of puzzles to solve, the balance of this game is pretty good, assuming you have played the first episode. The game pretty much picks up where its predecessor left off, and so does the puzzle difficulty. However, I can’t really say that the progression in challenge is all that harsh, and in fact is nearly non-existent. As long as you pay attention to what is said through the game, and as long as you have more logic than I do, then you shouldn’t have any problem getting through this one.

As far as pricing goes, it is more than appropriate for the type of game and length of gameplay we’re talking about here. I also strongly suggest investing in the entire season package, which will net you a spiffy Collector’s Edition DVD when all is said and done.

Balance Rating: Above Average

ORIGINALITY:

The setting is pretty much the same as in previous installments of the series. However, the dialogues are so funny and original that it does salvage the game’s score in this department. Otherwise, you are simply dealing with the second episode of a series, which uses the same tricks and characters as anything that ever bore the Monkey Island label.

Originality Rating: Mediocre

ADDICTIVENESS:

It really was because of the usual obligations that I put down this game once in a while. Otherwise, it is a fun game which can easily be played through in one sitting. Time does pass by pretty fast as the story and characters are equally endearing and enthralling. You will be left wanting for more, which is why I suggest, no, I insist that you buy the entire season if you are going to play this game. You will thank me later.




Addictiveness Rating: Classic

APPEAL FACTOR:

The pricing, humour, subject and fun-for-all difficulty sure makes for an appealing package. Combined with enough nostalgic gamers having fond memories of the series, I can see the new audience making this game a new cult classic.

Appeal Factor Rating: Great

MISCELLANEOUS:

When it comes to PC gaming, my main issue is often with the crashes and glitches that come with so many different possible system configurations. I am happy to inform you that no such thing happened here. Everything runs smoothly and without a hiccup. The only thing that could really make me appreciate this game more is if the Collector’s Edition DVD ends up smelling like cinnamon buns.

Miscellaneous Rating: Amazing

The Scores:
Story/Modes: Classic
Graphics: Enjoyable
Sound: Incredible
Control/Gameplay: Above Average
Replayability: Poor
Balance: Above Average
Originality: Mediocre
Addictiveness: Classic
Appeal: Great
Miscellaneous: Amazing

Final Score: Good Game!

Short Attention Span Summary:
The price is great for a fun game with a hilarious story. Let me stress one more time that the full-season package seems like a great deal, and that anybody who tries this game and finds it to their taste should invest in it. The second episode, just like the first, doesn’t disappoint, and with Telltale Games being apparently on a roll, I can’t really see why the next episodes would be any different. This game comes with a high recommendation.

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