And, the lack of map variety hurts Chariots more than a similar paucity has hurt previous episodes, because Chariots is, overall, a bit slow. It’s not that there aren’t some good jokes, but there’s an inordinate amount of flat dialogue to get through – and you’ll need to get through it to solve the puzzles – featuring many more bad puns than witty repartee. All adventure games feature dialogue trees to some degree, but Chariots’ conversations feel less engaging and less important than previous iterations. Maybe it’s just that familiarity breeds contempt, and we’ve become pretty used to Sam and Max’s respective personalities by now.
On the plus side, the game’s content is helped tremendously by the continued excellence of the Sam & Max series’ original score. It’s a sad truism in the gaming industry that music is something of an afterthought, but here the jaunty jazz and charming country genuinely add a feeling of lightheartedness and fun - which actually makes the jokes funnier. Sounds far-fetched, but it’s true: try playing the game with your speakers off, and you’ll see the difference.
Bottom line: Chariots does a heck of a lot more right than it does wrong, and has put the series back on the right track after a couple of slips in episodes two and three.
Mar 14, 2008