Wallace & Gromitís Grand Adventures Episode 4: The Bogey Man

 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Telltale Games

Released:  July 2009

PC Requirements:   See review

Walkthrough

Additional Screenshots

 

 

 

by gremlin

 

What is it?

So we come to end of another episodic series of games from Telltale Games. As you can probably tell from the title of this review, this time I'm writing about the fourth and final episode of Wallace and Gromit's Grand Adventures; it's called The Bogey Man.

If you don't already know who Wallace and Gromit are, or if you haven't played the earlier episodes of the Grand Adventures, you really shouldn't be starting with this episode, or this review. If you choose to persist, I suppose I'd better summarise: Wallace is an inventor, and Gromit is his dog, and the actual brains of the outfit. They live in the North of England in a small town peopled with a set of idiosyncratic characters who largely appear throughout this series of games.

Is there a plot?

It is quite tricky to describe the plot of The Bogey Man while avoiding spoiling the plots of the previous episodes of the Grand Adventures, but the primary motivation for story in this episode is that somehow Wallace's next door neighbour, Miss Flitt, believes herself to be engaged to marry Wallace, much to her apparent pleasure, and to Wallace's confusion. Gromit just looks on in disbelief, of course. However, there's a fly in Miss Felicity Flitt's ointment, and that is her Aunt Prudence (Ms. Flitt), and the long-standing feud between the Flitt family and a local golf and country club known as Prickly Thicket Country Club.

When Wallace finds out about the feud, he senses that this might be his ticket out of his engagement with Felicity, and so the first part of the story revolves around getting Wallace membership in the club. Then come the puzzles of the location of the Prickly Thicket golf course, the Ganges Grip, the Chairman's Championship, and finally the rescue of everyone by Gromit (of course).

There is some character development since the first story; I think nearly all of the characters have been involved in more than one story, whilst others have been involved in all of them. Some of the relationships between them are hidden right until the last minutes of the last episode, whilst others (Wallace and Felicity, for example) are key to the progression of the plots.

How do you play?

With a series of four games, you might normally expect changes in the gaming mechanism, an improvement in graphical quality, changes of casting, or the addition of new features as the series progresses. However, the business model of Telltale Games has them generating multiple games based on a stable engine, and releasing those games over a short time span -- giving rise to this episodic format that provides an experience to the gamer that is much more akin to a series of television short movies than either a conventional game series released over a number of years, such as the Myst games, or a weekly TV series, like The Big Bang Theory. So, consequently, I can say that you play The Bogey Man in exactly the same way as the previous three episodes. There are no new controls.

All four of the Grand Adventures are played in the third person, with the player sometimes controlling Wallace, and sometimes Gromit; usually for getting into a mess, and out again, respectively. I don't like the hybrid mouse/keyboard controls of the Grand Adventure. I find that there is sufficient use of the mouse for almost everything, so that suddenly switching to the keyboard to get Wallace or Gromit to move is most jarring. On the other hand, the sidebar, pop-out inventory works perfectly well, as do the bounding box highlights around the on-screen hotspots. (There's also a hotkey, Tab, to indicate all the hotspots in the current view).

Whilst I'm on the subject of keys, there are basically two sets of controls; one to suit those who hold the mouse in their right hand, and one the reverse preference, but you'll have to check the Telltale Games website, as the downloaded game doesn't come with a manual.

As with each of the previous two games, the bulk of the story takes place at 62 West Wallaby Street, and in the town square, however, there are also a couple of new locations: the sewers under the town(!) and the Prickly Thicket Country Club. The club is an archetypical country house with billiards room, big fireplace, automaton butler... and a rather atypical short indoor driving range in the hallway!

Notable Features 

It would be nice to say that there are new, notable, features in The Bogey Man, but as this is simply the fourth game based on the one engine, there's little change in the fundamental features of the games between episodes. I will say that the look of the game, the standard of the voice acting and the quality of the music are still excellent. And the hint system is still helpful, yet subtle.

Conclusions

It is undoubtedly the case that the Wallace and Gromit's Grand Adventures series are good puzzling adventures, that fit in very nicely with the existing stories (shorts and movies) that form the canon of Wallace and Gromit. However, this last episode in the series has lost some of the gloss of the earlier ones. There are occasional scenes where the focus appears to be on the wrong place (an example is where a particular character is talking, but the view is of another, unrelated, part of the building), and a few graphical glitches, such as black squares where there shouldn't be. So, much as it pains me to do, I cannot give this disappointing final episode a glowing report; this is definitely a case of "could do better."

Grade:  B-

Wallace & Gromit in The Bogey Man can be purchased via download at Telltale Games.

What do you need to play it?

Recommended Requirements

  • Operating system: Windows XP / Vista (Vista64 unsupported)
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz or better (3 GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent recommended)
  • Memory: 512MB (1GB recommended)
  • Video: 64MB DirectX 8.1-compliant video card (128MB recommended)
  • Sound: DirectX 8.1 sound device
  • DirectXģ: Version 9.0c or better

Also available for Xbox 360, via Xbox Live Arcade.

(I used a custom built 64-bit Vista Home Premium SP1 PC running on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual 5200+, with 6 GB RAM, and an XFX nVidia GeForce 8600GT 256MB video card with mother-board sound card)

Note: Despite the recommended requirements stating that 64bit Vista is not supported, the game ran just fine on my setup.

September, 2009

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