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
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
“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.” –
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
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
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
design copyright ©