In this, the fourth Monkey
Island game, the player first encounters Guybrush Threepwood as he returns
from his honeymoon. Marriage and experience have added a whole new
dimension to our hero -- he is somehow less gangling and awkward, and he
is wearing a snappy new scarlet suit. Unfortunately, he is also tied to
the mast of his own ship, writing feverishly in his journal as a battle
rages around him.
Little does Guybrush know that he is about to stumble his way through a
hilarious series of conundrums, challenges and humiliations on his way to
saving the Monkey Island way of life. This time, the arch villain he must
defeat is Ozzie Mandrill, a sort of Australian version of Walt Disney bent
on making the "pirate experience" into a theme park for tourists. Ozzie's
scheme involves ousting the current pirate Governor (Guybrush's wife
Elaine), hiring a cast of fake pirates and exiling the real pirates until
they can be reeducated enough to fit in with his new, plastic "civilized"
society. Ozzie is a wonderful villain -- dastardly, clever, plausible,
ruthless and virtually unstoppable. His one mistake: tangling with a
hapless but persistent pirate wannabe.
This is the third time I've hung out in a game with Guybrush, and his
personality is really starting to grow on me. At first, I thought he was
mostly just a naive good-time boy who made me laugh. Later, I chuckled at
his incarnations as a tofu-headed sacrifice victim and a giant demon
chicken. But somewhere in the middle of "Escape from Monkey Island" I
began to admire him and feel strangely protective of him. By the end of
the game, he was much more than just a cartoon character. I was actually
becoming annoyed at the other characters for their inability to see that,
in his bumbling way, Guybrush is a genuine hero. He never gives up, he
doesn't run from trouble, and he always comes up with an absurdly zany
denouement that brings him out on top.
Other impressions of the game: the out-of-doors locations in EMI are
colorful and tropical, with fantasy-type piratical-themed buildings. A
particular favorite -- the spectacular swathe of night sky at the game's
beginning with thick, swirling clouds. Interiors are detailed and quaint.
IMHO, 3D has greatly added to the game environments, and this opinion is
coming from someone who was skeptical about switching away from 2D. It is
interesting to see some of the locations from the original game in their
higher-resolution, 3D versions. It's like a quick glimpse at the history
of adventure gaming.
The writing is terrific. This game has one of the best collections of
hilarious one-liners that I've encountered. There ARE a fair share of
inside jokes. There are also bad puns, references to various aspects of
popular culture, religious jokes, lawyer jokes -- the game traverses a
vast expanse of snide-comment territory. To a few one-liners you will
respond: "huh?", and this can be mildly annoying; but the great majority
of the humor will be enjoyed by everybody.
There are a lot of wacky characters in EMI that add to the enjoyment of
the game. The non-player characters are almost all larger-than-life
caricatures, but they complement the game's whimsical themes and locations
perfectly. The voice acting is very good; the tone never gets too serious
or goes over the top with hilarity (well, not often anyway).
The puzzles/challenges are a varied assortment. Some are tricky, some are
goofy, some are easy, a few are outrageous, some (particularly the timed
puzzles) are frustrating, and one (the Mysts O'Tyme) is brilliantly
original. I thought the Monkey Kombat sequence was fun, although the final
Monkey Kombat solution is confusing. There are no sliding tile puzzles.
There is one extremely clever maze.
The keyboard control in general can be a pain in the neck. It is difficult
to search for a tiny, yet vital item in these huge game environments,
while using a character that moves awkwardly and imprecisely, bouncing
every-which-way off invisible barriers that instantly turn him in an
opposite direction. I know other gamers disagree strongly, but I think
that the mouse is easier to use and helps create a more immersive
experience for this kind of game.
I played the game through twice. It crashed to the desktop three times.
Also, I encountered one slowdown and a locked resources problem that was
solved when I applied the patch (the patch was easy to apply and did NOT
erase my previously saved games). However, one problem that was not fixed
by the patch was a fairly consistent inability to move smoothly forward.
Sometimes, even when there was nothing obstructing his path, Guybrush
would not move forward until I moved him backward a couple of steps first.
The game seemed plenty long the first time I played. The second time, I
followed the walkthrough closely, and I was surprised at how quickly the
game raced by when I performed only necessary actions. Progressing
precisely as the walkthrough instructs results in missing a lot of fun
extra stuff. There are many little details in the game that are only
appreciated if you really take your time.
Final Grade :
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