Review: Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter Five – Rise of the Pirate God (PC)
by Ashe Collins on December 17, 2009

cover-02Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 5: Rise of the Pirate God
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games/Lucasarts
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 12/08/2009

The final chapter in this, the latest Monkey Island saga. We’ve reviewed the other chapters here, here, here and here. So how does this last chapter compare to the others? Does it keep with Monkey Island tradition, or does it force you to drink their helping of Grog and like it? As with my other review for the game, anything that I thought applied from my other reviews shows up here in italics.

Story/Modes

mi105_graveSo things didn’t go as planned last time around, and well, Guybrush starts off dead this go round. In usual pirate-y fair, you have to pull one over on the short-answering Ferryman to make it to the Crossroads. From here starts a life and death game of puzzle-solving involving characters from all over the other chapters as you try to reclaim your body, which doesn’t quite go according to plan as you end up as a Zombie, try to win back Elaine, who seems to have gone all evil head over heels for LeChuck, and attempt to enlist the help of Morgan LeFlay, who’s apparently too depressed to do much of anything.

The usual Monkey Island flair for the dramatic and ironic is here, including a Grog vending machine for those waiting to see the Ferryman, and Guybrush’s usual flair for saying the wrong thing at the right time. I was a little worried about this one not quite finishing off this series very well, and much to my delight, Telltale has pulled it off and delivered an ending that works fantastically.

The puzzles are integrated really well into this chapter and a lot of the gags and elements we’ve already seen make a comeback here to give us that last taste of Groggy and root beer goodness. Just remember kids, fizzy root beer and you in the afterlife don’t mix.

Story/Modes Rating: Classic

Graphics

For the most part, the game hasn’t varied too much. I did find it amusing that instead of just making the spirits see-through, you can see a bit of skeleton on the inside when in the right light. It gave me a little chuckle, and it was refreshing as opposed to other games that just make ghosts blue and semi-transparent. Visually, if you’ve played the other chapters, you know what to expect out of this one. Nothing ground-breaking, but it works and does what it needs to. I really like how Telltale handled the 3D look of all the characters and the environments this go around.

Graphics Rating: Good

mi105_boatmanSound

As before, while the music is pretty generic, the voice actors do a fantastic job bringing this game to life. I especially loved the dead-pan delivery by the Ferryman at the beginning. That really set the tone for what was to come, and Guybrush managing to finally break the Ferryman into spitting out directions fairly quickly so he could go deadpan again was hilarious.

I think my only real complaint as far as dialogue and actors go is evil Elaine. She just came across as cheesy, and not in a good Monkey Island way. The rest of the time you see Elaine, she’s fine, just when she’s doing that over the top evil voice that it bothered me.

Sound Rating: Very Good

Control and Gameplay

The controls in this game are very simple. You can move around with the keyboard or mouse, point and click on objects with the mouse, drag items in your inventory to interact with other objects with your mouse, and in a few instances you’ll have to use the keyboard to arrange certain objects to escape. Simple, but effective.

mi105_guybrushanddogGameplay pretty much follows what you’d expect from an adventure game. Wander around, talk to people, pick up objects and figure out how they fit into certain puzzles, if at all. There are a few instances where they change camera angles which make it a bit difficult to figure out where you’re supposed to be going, but the environments are usually detailed enough where it isn’t that much of a problem. You do have several dialogue options with the differing characters you meet, but other than revealing different parts of the story or backstory for the characters it really doesn’t change the interactions thereafter, so you can be as much of a jerk as you like if that’s how you want to play it.

I did enjoy going back to different areas through the Crossroads and setting everything up for the spells was a bit of a trick. I think some of it may have people scratching their heads trying to figure out what they did wrong, which as the last chapter in an adventure game, is how it should be.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Great

Replayability

While this was a ton of fun, subsequent playthroughs will be faster and easier which might cut down on the fun for some players. That and you can’t really skip some of the more inane dialogue (or at least I couldn’t figure out how when I was playing the first chunk over again). Really the only reason to play this over again is for the amusing dialogue and puzzles as there’s nothing really to collect here. This is fine for people who like these games, but won’t be for the people who have to unlock everything.

Replayability Rating: Mediocre

mi105_morganBalance

I’ve liked the balancing on this series a lot. Early on in each chapter, the puzzles start off fairly simple and get more and more complex. In each of the chapters the later puzzles have gotten a bit more difficult to pull off there as well, and in this last chapter it can take quite awhile to figure it all out. Telltale has done a great job with this, and especially with the cost of the game. Even though I’ve gotten review copies to play this out with I’m still very much looking to land my own copy to keep on DVD.

Balance Rating: Great

Originality

While this game is a nice addition to the series, and this is really the first time it’s been episodic, there isn’t much that’s original here. You’re still dealing with the overall main villain, the same hero, his wife, and a few other pop-ups from previous games. So while this has a fresh new spin it’s mostly things I’ve seen before. And again, it’s a sequel, so, um, yeah.

The amusing way they dealt with the Ferryman and the Crossroads was very funny, but these are not new concepts. I did like what they’ve done, and the puzzles have been different, but undead pirates and ghosts have been done before. Not much hasn’t really.

Originality Rating: Mediocre

mi105_evilelaineAddictiveness

I’ve absolutely loved playing this series. When I sat down to start them, I didn’t get up until I was done with that chapter and then I wanted some more pirate-y fun and goodness. Shortness aside, this game does suck you in even when you’re frustrated because you’re missing something obvious about the current puzzle that’s staring you in the face. When I actually got down to play this game it was a fast two and a half hours, but it was the only thing going on and I didn’t really take a break from it until those end credits rolled. Then I wanted more.

Addictiveness Rating: Classic

Appeal Factor

The last fun and challenge filled installment of what has definitely been a worthy sequel to the Monkey Island series. Seriously folks, if you haven’t picked this one up and you’re a Monkey Island fan you’re doing yourself a terrible disservice. All my friends that are casual gamers that remember the Monkey Island series have picked this up as well and love it. It’s got some great appeal and it’s something that anyone can play, even the kiddies.

Appeal Factor Rating: Classic

Miscellaneous

While I’m writing this review off a press copy that was missing some scenes (I did get to see them in video form), I still enjoyed this game a great deal. Telltale has really worked some great magic with this and with the way it ended I’m hoping we get to see more adventures with our favorite Mighty Pirate again and soon. The writing and direction for this game has been strong and solid all along and I’m sorry to see this game series come to an end. Or is it?

Miscellaneous Rating: Classic

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Classic
Graphics Rating: Good
Sound Rating: Very Good
Control and Gameplay Rating: Great
Replayability Rating: Medicore
Balance Rating: Great
Originality Rating: Mediocre
Addictiveness Rating: Classic
Appeal Factor Rating: Classic
Miscellaneous Rating: Classic
FINAL SCORE: VERY GOOD GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresize Rise of the Pirate God is the last chapter in this Tales of Monkey Island series and it does an amazing job of wrapping up what could have been a cash-in on an older series that everyone used to love. Instead we got a worthy successor with the same wit and charm we’d come to know and love from the other games in the series. This chapter really puts you in the mood for some more and I for one would love to see Telltale handle a few more games in the line. If you love adventure games, and are still on the fence on this one, get off that fence and pick it up. It’s a blast.



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