Review: Oh boy! It's the abridged version of War and Peace... Oh, my mistake? it's just a review.
Back in 1987, the oddly-disturbing-but-nonetheless-brilliant mind of Steve Purcell conceived a misfit pair of crime fighting buddies consisting of a dog named Sam and a hyper kinetic rabbity thing named Max. Together, the pair were a hit and they became a franchise that would span a serialized comic series, a PC game (?Sam and Max Hit the Road', and a Fox Kids TV Show. As one of the most successful point-and-click adventure games to come out in the 90s, the game took players on a whimsical adventure about rescuing a yeti that escaped from a Freak Show and helping to reunite him with his love. A sequel (?Sam and Max: Freelance Police') was announced for the Microsoft Xbox prior to launch?only to never be heard from again. As fans grew upset with LucasArts' decision to cancel the game, the folks over at Telltale Games decided to sign Steve up and create a new series of episodic games based on Sam and Max? and we couldn't be any happier with how it turned out.
The first part of the new series, Culture Shock brings players back to the rat-infested streets of Sam and Max where the commissioner calls upon them to stop a former child-star turned psycho by the name of Brady Culture (Brady Bunch reference perhaps?). Poor Brady was overshadowed by another group of child stars by the name of the Soda Poppers, and has now resorted to trying to gain the attention of the viewing public by brain washing the viewing public via VHS tapes. As Sam and Max cruise their local streets attempting to solve the mystery of Brady Culture, they encounter the Soda Poppers, who have been mysteriously convinced to spread out word about the video tapes.
Told in your typical point-and-click adventure style, Sam and Max is a relatively short game lasting no more than four hours; possibly even less time depending on how experienced you are with adventure games. For those unaccustomed to classic point-and-click gameplay, you'll be clicking around on items for pretty much all of the game's puzzles. Although a few of the game's puzzles are really challenging, most of them stay to this formula: turning off a light, watching TV, talking to another character. Rinse and repeat. Additionally, the game plays out more like a single cartoon episode as there's not much more to it than the main quest and a short side quest where you drive and pull-over people for cash (it sounds more fun than it is).
Despite these shortcomings however, the game's script is absolutely hilarious. Although it's hard to recapture the perfect comedy that was found in the classic game, the punch lines in the game are still brilliant. In fact, you'll often try to click on anything just to see what the two will say next.
Visually-speaking, the game is pleasant on the eyes. The game itself doesn't require any heavy graphics cards to run smoothly but it remains nice nonetheless. Borrowing a style reminiscent of noir films, the game captures the comic's art style perfectly as it presents a low-brow big city detective story. Audibly, the game's jazz-centric motif is very suitable and lends itself nicely to the game. The game's voice actors, although not the same as the ones in ?Hit the Road', do an admirable job at capturing the spirit of the characters for the most part.