Sam & Max Episode 4 – Abe Lincoln Must Die!

Stay frosty, America!

“People of Earth! Your day of reckoning is at hand!” – believe it or not, this is one of the many speeches our beloved rabbit Max made when he was running for American presidency side-by-side with his freelance police partner – Sam, the dog. This 4th monthly installment of a favourably rated point-and-click Adventure game has many surprises. First, it was pre-released to loyal customers like myself one week before the actual launch. I think that is very nice of Telltale Games. Second, this episode is longer and more challenging than the previous episodes. There is even a mini-musical within the plot of the game. To anticipate that gamers indeed get smarter as they learn the game mechanism through the episodes, the puzzles are relatively more subtle and there are a few parallel plots to the game that the linkages are not at all obvious. Third, Telltale Games has made several subtle changes to how they used to layout the plots. It disorients and confuses seasoned players like me and I found myself exploring the plot rather than following the plot. That, I love.

In “Abe Lincoln Must Die!”, Sam and Max is entering into politics. It is hilarious, they are adorable. I can hardly find anything to complain about except perhaps … it will be a month long wait till the final episode is out.

Telltales Games has even made a dummy website www.MaxForPresident.org for episode 4. I spotted it at the end credits (yes, I love their episodes so much that I read all the credits).

Related Links and Blogs: Official Site of Telltale Games, Sam & Max Episode 6 – Bright Side Of The Moon (End Of Season 1), Sam & Max Episode 5 – Reality 2.0, Sam & Max Episode 4 – Abe Lincoln Must Die!, My 3rd Contribution to YouTube for Sam & Max Episode 3 – The Mole, The Mob, And The Meatball, Sam & Max: Episode 2 – Situation Comedy, Sam & Max: Episode 1 – Culture Shock, Sam & Max at Wikipedia

My 3rd Contribution to YouTube for Sam & Max Episode 3 – The Mole, The Mob, And The Meatball

Image taken from actual game play

Click onto the video below contributed to YouTube by me and you won’t regret it!

The 3rd monthly installment of this point-and-click adventure game Sam & Max based on two hilarious comic book characters is out and I took no time in completing this episode (for more introduction on this PC game, please visit my previous blogs as linked below). There is one particular cut-scene that is the most hilarious clip I have seen so far. I have made it into a video clip and uploaded it to YouTube for sharing.

Humours aside, this 3rd episode suffers from mid-episode-syndrome. The 1st episode is new to all and the puzzles took a while to solve. For the 2nd episode, most of the tricks are already made known by 1st episode and the main entertainment value comes from the extra contents generated from various reality TV studios that Sam and Max have to go through. As for the 3rd episode, it is the shortest installment so far and lots of contents are recycled from the 1st episode. Most of the puzzles are straightforward and intuitive, which is not necessary a bad thing because I found myself sat back and chuckled through the scenes. Extra effort has been put into the scripting and it shows. It took me about 3 hours to complete the entire episode and I am looking forward to what the last 2 episodes will look like.

Related Links and Blogs: Official Site of Telltale Games, Sam & Max Episode 6 – Bright Side Of The Moon (End Of Season 1), Sam & Max Episode 5 – Reality 2.0, Sam & Max Episode 4 – Abe Lincoln Must Die!, My 3rd Contribution to YouTube for Sam & Max Episode 3 – The Mole, The Mob, And The Meatball, Sam & Max: Episode 2 – Situation Comedy, Sam & Max: Episode 1 – Culture Shock, Sam & Max at Wikipedia

World Of Warcraft – The Burning Crusade

Image from actual game play

Friends of mine must have found it odd that despite my passion with the online game World of Warcraft (WoW), I seldom write anything about it. Not even a review on its long awaiting expansion after its January launch. I was asked a number of times if I was one of those who queued up at SunTech on the launch day itself and to tell you the truth, I was not even keen to get the expansion. WoW and I have gone a long way – good and bad.

During the time when Cynthia was studying for her Financial Risk Manager (FRM) exam, she said she would try out WoW after the exam when she did not need to spend hours studying risk management books every evening. FRM must have driven her crazy. Imagine someone who does not play any video games at all and even when she did play Football Manager because she is crazy over football, she never gets hooked onto it wanting to play time after time. For the longest history of time I have tried various different ways to tempt her with my wide spectrum of computer games with no success. Over time I am more and more determined to find out if there is at least one video game somewhere for each of us. I am a computer engineer and scientist by training. Friends of mine know that I don’t buy a game to finish it. I admire how the images are being modelled; I am intrigued by how the artificial intelligence is being implemented; I observe how the user interface is designed; and I study the “fun” factors that the designers are putting into the games.

One evening Cynthia came up to me and said that she wanted to start a character in WoW. Very well, I said and walked her through the initial stage of character creation. Of all the classes that WoW offers, she chose to be a warlock – one of the most complex classes around. I tried suggesting some other easier classes but she wished to stick with warlock. Cynthia took no time in familiarising herself with the user interface and half an hour later, she was on her own exploring the World of Warcraft in her own way. Looking at Cynthia playing an online computer game baffled me. WoW is not exactly a simple game to pick up and definitely not one that I would recommend for first-timer. But the magic of WoW charmed her and till today, she plays the game occasionally when she has the time. Cynthia definitely plays more than I do after the launch of the expansion.

World of Warcraft is one of the modern commercial miracles that I admire. Created by Blizzard based on their award winning Real Time Strategy game Warcraft series, WoW is a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game where tens and hundreds of players interact with one another within the same “realm”). A genre that is not new but Blizzard managed to turn it into a commercial miracle when the gaming industry was plagued with piracy (still do in a certain extend). For online games, players are required to buy the original game and pay a subscription fees. With the arrival of WoW, the MMORPG community has exploded and passed a recent 7 million mark. What does 7 million subscribers mean commercially? Imagine nearly all subscribers will buy the US$40 expansion pack in the first couple of months and that is a US$280 million sure-win business. For a US$15 monthly subscription fees, that is US$315 million per quarter. If that is not enough, Blizzard offers a paid service to transfer players’ characters from one realm to another realm (mainly to join their real life friends or their realms get too crowded) for US$25 each. Believe me, there are many characters get moved around for various different reasons.

There are many success factors to write about Blizzard. They have an active forum where players exchange and voice out ideas and Blizzard listens making improvements to the game gradually. New contents are being created and pushed out into the game in a regular basis. There are lots of fun things to do within this virtual fantasy world. Blizzard has made a game that pleases both casual as well as hardcore players for all age groups (the youngest I have met is 12 and 60-ish the oldest), different nationalities, and from all walks of life.

That is how some others appreciate the game. As for Cynthia, she loves the look of her character, the beautiful scenery, the vast area for exploration, and new abilities as her character progresses. And for me, well, I have been there done that and am glad that I have gotten detached from this time sink. WoW is a fun game but please exercise self-restrain when you play it. Try not to play more than 2 hours a day and have at least 2 days per week free from WoW. A friendly reminder from someone who has already clocked 3,000 hours in the game.

Related Link: World of Warcraft Official Site.

Sam & Max: Episode 2 – Situation Comedy

Hot from the oven! Don’t miss Sam and Max, our freelance police, going through their 15 minutes of fame, the reality show style, in this new installment!

For those of you who have missed my previous writeup on this adventure game Sam & Max, it is a fun and hilarious game based on a comic book title. Each month, there is a new episode of the game to be downloaded and there are 6 episodes to make up the Sam & Max Season #1. Do try out the demo version from the official site of Telltale Games. It is free!

I have just finished the 2nd episode on my own and it is definitely more entertaining than the previous one. Some reviewers mentioned that the puzzles are easier. I guess after grinding through the 1st episode, people more or less know some of the ways to solve related puzzles. To me, some of the puzzles are still as hard. At times I took half an hour to solve one. In total, I think I have put in 8 to 10 hours for the 2nd episode and I definitely look forward to the next one.

PS. I wish to take this opportunity to praise the Telltale Games support. After my OS was crashed, I needed to download the 1st episode again and their website had difficulties in recognising my order number. I dropped a line in their forum as well as an email and I got an instant friendly response. The issue was resolved on the same night. The download speed of 75MB worth of data was fast as compares to any other games I have. Truly impressed by their support and the quality of work.

Related Links and Blogs: Official Site of Telltale Games, Sam & Max Episode 6 – Bright Side Of The Moon (End Of Season 1), Sam & Max Episode 5 – Reality 2.0, Sam & Max Episode 4 – Abe Lincoln Must Die!, My 3rd Contribution to YouTube for Sam & Max Episode 3 – The Mole, The Mob, And The Meatball, Sam & Max: Episode 2 – Situation Comedy, Sam & Max: Episode 1 – Culture Shock, Sam & Max at Wikipedia

Sam & Max: Episode 1 – Culture Shock

I chanced upon this really cute and hilarious adventure game and after playing the free demo, I just want to have more. What so special about this game is that it is divided into 6 (affordable) episodes that are released monthly from Dec 2006. You can buy each episode at US$8.65 each or get the whole package at US$34.95. Each episode is estimated to have a 4 hours play time. For short attention span folks like me, Sam & Max is just perfect.

The game is full of hilarious dialogs and puzzle solving. I couldn’t stop laughing when Sam and Max took turn to threaten a rat playing the good and bad guys. For those who are new to adventure games, basically you solve puzzles by interacting with the environment. Very user-friendly and very entertaining. This game has received favourable rating by numerous sources. Do download the demo and see for yourself.

PS. I just did a purchase via the Internet. It was a breeze!

PPS. Just received an email from the developers and it said: We love you. Why? You bought some stuff! Not that we wouldn’t love you just as much if you hadn’t bought 6 whole things from our store. But now you’re our favorite. Don’t tell the others.

Related Links and Blogs: Official Site of Telltale Games, Sam & Max Episode 6 – Bright Side Of The Moon (End Of Season 1), Sam & Max Episode 5 – Reality 2.0, Sam & Max Episode 4 – Abe Lincoln Must Die!, My 3rd Contribution to YouTube for Sam & Max Episode 3 – The Mole, The Mob, And The Meatball, Sam & Max: Episode 2 – Situation Comedy, Sam & Max: Episode 1 – Culture Shock, Sam & Max at Wikipedia