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Sam & Max Episode 1: Culture Shock review

The canine shamus and his psychotic rabbit sidekick are back again, but it's just for a few hours

Pros

  • Memorably weird presentation
  • Plenty of stuff to see and do
  • A bargain at $8.95

Cons

  • Steering with mouse is clunky
  • Puzzles are a little too easy
  • Over too soon

It took 13 years, a high-profile cancellation and a corporate schism that ended with the formation of developer Telltale Games, but bizarre crimefighting team Sam%26amp; Max have finally returned to computer screens. In Sam %26amp; Max Episode 1: Culture Shock, the dog-and-rabbit detective duo hit the pavement in their festering New York neighborhood, this time to shut down an incredibly chintzy world-domination plot.

Like 1993's Sam %26amp; Max Hit the Road (and Telltale's earlier Bone games), Culture Shock is an old-school, point-and-click adventure that brings the crazed duo back in brilliantly animated 3D. As canine detective Sam (Max the rabbit tends to follow you aimlessly until you either talk to him or swat him out of the way), you'll wander around solving puzzles, engaging the locals in conversation and picking up whatever isn't nailed down. The plot is suitably weird, centering on former child stars, an idiotic fitness craze and mind-control rays, and the script - while infuriatingly tame by the lunatic standards of the Sam %26amp; Max comics - is pretty clever for what's essentially a pilot episode.

That said, Culture Shock is a pretty simple game. Everything you can interact with lights up when you mouse over it, and while the puzzles are clever, they're not exactly difficult - at least not if you're paying attention. Culture Shock rewards random poking around and experimentation, so if you spend some time just examining the stuff around you or chatting up other characters, you'll usually net some blatant hints. And if talking your way through things fails, you can always whip out Sam's very huge revolver and see if shooting stuff helps.

More Info

GenreAdventure
DescriptionAn excellent - if short - adventure game that does justice to two of adventure gaming's most beloved icons.
PlatformPC
US censor ratingRating Pending
UK censor rating
Release date:18 October 2006 (US), 1 November 2006 (UK)
Available platforms:PC
Genre:Adventure

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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