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Sam & Max Season Two, Episode 1: Ice Station Santa review

Gun-crazed dog and rabbit return to kick Christmas in the teeth

You can also expect much edgier gags this time around, which are always welcome - running over screaming "Torture Me Elmer" dolls in Sam and Max's rustbucket DeSoto got a few chuckles out of us, as did little Timmy Two-Teeth, a baby rat suffering from a terminal, constantly bleeped case of Tourette's syndrome.

Silliness aside, the puzzles in Ice Station Santa are considerably tougher than before. With more places to go and so much stuff to click on, it's sometimes difficult to know what's actually helpful in your immediate situation, and some of the puzzles take logical thinking that goes beyond just figuring out what items to use. This is great for players looking for an actual challenge; for those who aren't, just stand around acting stumped for a while, and Max will start feeding you subtle hints (like "I want to go back to Santa's workshop and just kind of ransack the place.") on what to do next. The nice thing about these is that you can adjust their frequency, enabling Max to spout clues constantly, rarely, or not at all.

The minigames in this episode are also improved over the previous season's crop; during driving sequences, for example, you can now steer the DeSoto with the arrow keys - it's still jerky, but it feels a little better than trying to use the mouse. There's also a blatant homage to Punch-Out!! this time around, in the form of a simple boxing game in which you steer a remote-control doll into the ring with a series of rat opponents, all of whom pack special punches that they telegraph with obvious signals, and one of whom is actually named Bald Bull Rat. Even the opening credits let you shoot stuff for no good reason. Hooray!

More Info

DescriptionWill the dog-and-rabbit duo have to destroy Christmas in order to save it? Probably.
Release date8 November 2007 (US), 8 November 2007 (UK)