Bone Act Two: The Great Cow Race



Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    TellTale Games

Released:  2006

PC Requirements:   Windows XP or Windows 2000, DirectX 8.1, Free hard drive space: 140MB, Newer 3D Accelerated Video Cards 800 MHz P3 processor (or better) Older 3D Accelerated Video Cards: 1.5 GHz processor (or better)




Additional screenshots




by Becky


Continuing the adventures of the Bone cousins, Bone Act Two: The Great Cow Race picks up the story where Bone Act One: Out From Boneville left off.  Both games are based on the graphic novel series by Jeff Smith.  If you haven’t played the first Bone game you can still play Act Two.  But take a moment to read the “Who’s Who” feature in the main menu of The Great Cow Race.  This introduces the cast of characters, provides brief background details from the previous game, and mentions a famous author who is featured in a puzzle later in the game.  There’s also a “What’s Happened So Far” section in the manual.

The Great Cow Race uses a point-and-click interface with third person perspective and takes place in and around the Barrelhaven Tavern.  As the game begins, two of the cousins, Phoney and Smiley, are working off debts to the owner of the tavern by helping out in the kitchen and at the bar.  True to character, Phoney is contemplating a get-rich-quick scheme that involves the upcoming race.  The third cousin, Fone is enjoying the Spring Fair in the company of the beautiful Thorn – until a honey merchant captures her attention and steals her right from under Fone Bone’s nose.

How Green Was My Valley

Graphics in The Great Cow Race are in full 3D.  The Valley is a cheerful, lush, colorful place with forest clearings accented by bright flowers.   Barrelhaven Tavern has a comfortable rustic atmosphere.  Out back is a yard with chickens and a barn.  The Spring Fair, which takes place near the tavern, has an assortment of booths where you can purchase food and play games.  You can also talk to the attendants who staff the booths – characters who run the gamut from the sensitive soup merchant to the not-too-bright strong man.  Lively carnival-like music (with a tinge of country sound) adds to the atmosphere.  There are plenty of unusual critters.  The cows run, the bugs talk, and the possum kids are always ready for a gleeful romp.

The innocent life in the Valley is interrupted from time to time by eerie cutscenes.  There’s a dream sequence where red eyes gleam from behind carved stones.  There are appearances by the mysterious hooded figure seen at the end of the first Bone game.  The menace he represents is palpable and he has a terrifying force at his disposal, just waiting to be unleashed.

“Maybe I Should Concentrate on th’ Rubes Inside th’ Bar” – Phoney Bone

Character models have improved since the previous game.  Thorn in particular looks more natural, especially in close-ups during conversations.  You’ll see much more of Smiley Bone in this adventure, and he’s a welcome addition to the character mix.  With his laid-back humor, Smiley is the perfect foil for the conscientious Fone and the scheming Phoney.  For much of the game you can switch between the three Bone cousins at will, following Fone at the fair, Smiley as he messes about in the kitchen, and Phoney in the dining room serving customers.  Voice acting by Andrew Chaikin in the role of Phoney and Doug Boyd in the role of Smiley is outstanding.  Load times before cutscenes are longer than I would have expected, given that my computer exceeds the recommended system requirements.  Otherwise the cutscenes blended well with the game.

The dialog in The Great Cow Race is consistently amusing, grin-generating, and punctuated with one-liners that had me laughing out loud.  If you want to speed through dialogs you can click through them by hitting the space bar.  That said, the game did seem dialog-heavy.  I enjoy games with plenty of dialog, but I thought this game would have been better balanced if there hadn’t been quite so much of it.  Gamers can skip portions of the dialog and still complete the game, but it’s difficult to know which parts are essential and which aren’t.

The Great Cow Race can be played by just about anyone in the family.  My ten-year-old played it in two long gulps, chuckling and impatiently cheating on the more difficult puzzles.   As soon as he finished, he demanded to know when the next Bone game would be released.  The ending in this game is satisfying, but I too found myself longing for the next episode.  (Parent Note: large, easy-to-read subtitles and multiple dialog options make this a good game to encourage a child’s reading skills.)

“You’re the One in Big Trouble, Bub” – The Honey Bee

There’s a wonderful in-game Hint feature that provides graduated clues.  The puzzle difficulty has increased somewhat since Out From Boneville, and the puzzles are more “traditional” adventure fare than in the first game.  There are inventory-based challenges, pattern observation challenges, and dialog puzzles.  There’s an innovative poetry puzzle with Ted the Bug as a critic.  Two challenges require clicking the cursor quickly on a target or targets.  Neither of these was difficult once I figured out the strategy.

The culmination of the game brings together the humorous and menacing plot lines in a stampeding race to the finish line.  Having read the graphic novel, I knew the race would make up a large part of the end game and I was ready for a typical racing game challenge.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the race was anything but typical.  I did not have to steer or maneuver around objects.  There was a distinct thrill as I dashed through the forest, trying to figure out what to do, but the series of steps that finally eliminate the competition were unusual.  It’s one of those “you really have to see it to believe it” sequences.  There were times during the race when I had to click on the right spot at the right time, but again I didn’t find these to be difficult and it’s possible to keep trying if you missed something when the moment to click arrives.

“The Last One Was Fun, Don’t Get Me Wrong, but it was Too Short.” – Wendell

The Great Cow Race is not available in stores.  It can be downloaded from the Telltale Games website, and it also can be purchased on disk there.  If you haven’t played the first Bone game, you can purchase the two as a bundle on disk, or as a combined download.

I experienced no difficulties during the download and installation.  The game crashed to the desktop twice during gameplay.  There are unlimited saves, a much appreciated feature. The options menu allows you to individually adjust music, voice, and effects volume.  You can choose to turn on the hints, tutorial, and subtitles, and you can adjust graphical quality.  Although this game is considerably longer than the previous game, it still clocks in as a bit short – for me, about seven hours of gameplay.  Though at $12.99 for the downloaded version, it’s plenty of game for the money.

QuickList for Bone Act Two: The Great Cow Race

A comic game with darker undercurrents.  The game will appeal to all age groups.  Bright 3D graphics in a rustic setting.  Point-and-click, third person perspective.  Top-notch writing and voice acting.  Lots of dialog.    

Inventory, dialog, and observation puzzles – from an adventure gaming standpoint, the challenges are much more “traditional” than in the previous game.  Amusing, unexpected challenges involving poetry and the final race.  A few easy, timed challenges.  No sliders, no mazes, one sound puzzle that doesn’t really require listening to anything.  One puzzle that uses color discrimination.  You cannot die.

Unlimited save slots.  Smooth installation, two crashes to the desk top.  Playing time – about seven hours.  (Less if you consult the helpful in-game hint system.)  Can be purchased from the Telltale Games site.

Bone Act Two: The Great Cow Race is aimed at gamers who enjoy story based games, comical dialog, and delightfully quirky characters and puzzles. 

Final Grade:  B+


My Computer Specs:

Windows XP Professional

Pentium 2.80 GHz

2046 MB RAM

Direct X 9.0c

256 MB NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX

SB X-Fi Audio


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