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Escape from Monkey Island (2002) Custom DVD
Escape From Monkey Island is the 4th entry in a series of adventure games starring our favorite wannabe pirate, Guybrush Threepwood. I grew up on these games, developed by the LucasArts gaming company and consider myself a pretty good adventure gamer. However, being well versed in all things Monkey Island, I can confidently say that this is the weakest game in the series thus far. I'm not implying that it's unplayable by any means, but it just didn't quite have the spirit of the previous 3.
So once again, Guybrush finds himself on Melee Island, the first island you visit from the originalmore… MI. The game picks up pretty much where the last one left off, with Guybrush and Governor Elaine Marley newly wed and returning from their honey moon. Elaine has been pronounced dead and must run for re-election against Charles L. Charles, a mysterious newcomer. There's also a new villain introduced, the pirate hating Ozzie Mandrill from Australia, and what MI game would be complete without the ghost pirate Captain LeChuck. Or the demon from heck pirate as he's now referred to. Just like previous games, you're after one goal. In EFMI, that goal is to discover The Ultimate Insult before Ozzie Mandrill can.
Just like any MI game, there are familiar characters from previous games to interact with. The only problem is the project leaders on this one are new to the world of Monkey Island and instead of really creating anything new or original, they spend most of the story rehashing old jokes. In fact there are so many inside jokes for fans of the old games, it starts to become a little tedious after a while. I found myself rolling my eyes more often than laughing. It feels like they tried so hard to please former fans that they ignored the fact that most of these jokes would go right over the heads of newcomers, but I guess they figured the target audience would only be fans of the previous games.
So once you leave Melee Island you explore a couple other islands before ending up on Monkey Island. If I'm not mistaken, this installment features the fewest islands to explore out of any other game, which is a shame because it makes it feel a lot shorter. When sailing around on your ship, you can see Phatt Island and Booty Island, previous islands from Monkey Island 2, but to my disappointment, you never get to revisit them. Insult sword fighting is replaced by Monkey Kombat, which I found to be quite challenging. I believe it took me a whole night to solve this part of the game. Overall the puzzles were pretty challenging and sometimes I don't know how an average gamer could solve them without the help of a walkthrough. Unlike previous MI games, there isn't an option for easy or difficult puzzles.
Escape From Monkey Island runs on the GrimE engine that was developed for the superior Grim Fandango. That makes it the second LucasArts adventure game not to run on the SCUMM engine, and the first MI game to feature 3D graphics and atmospheres. That's not necessarily a problem, it is necessary for games to take advantage of advancing technology, but unfortunately the 3D graphics in this game just don't look that great. The only time they look acceptable is when the game pauses for a cut scene to further the plot. Other than that, they look rather primitive by today's standards and even by the standard set by Grim Fandango which was released only a year prior. I prefer the look of Curse of Monkey Island which featured beautiful 2D graphics and backgrounds.
I was delighted that Dominic Armato and Earl Boen reprised their roles as Guybrush and LeChuck from Curse of Monkey Island, the first "talkie" MI. They do a great job voicing those characters and hopefully will continue to do so should a 5th MI go into production. The rest of the voice actors however were average to bad. Every time Otis opened his mouth I usually found myself hitting the button to skip his dialogue. I know this is only a computer game but I expect a little better voice acting. The music was decent but not as good as the music in Curse. It usually got a little repetitive in some areas and there weren't any new character themes or motifs introduced that stuck in my head.
Overall, it's a decent adventure game if you look at it from a stand-alone point of view, but in comparison to the rest of the MI series, it doesn't stand up to its predecessors. If you're a fan of MI, I would recommend playing it just for nostalgia's sake, but don't expect it to blow you away. For newcomers to the series who still enjoy adventure games, I would recommend playing the other games first or any of the other adventure games developed by LucasArts.
- Escape from Monkey Island (2002) Custom DVD
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- 18/05/08 by __Brujo__
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