Sam and Max – Beyond Space and Time (XBOX360)

The Xbox 360 conversion of Telltale games latest Sam and Max collection of adventure is with us, but who exactly is it for?

Way back when, as I cobbled together my first PC from second hand odds and sods, I jealously hankered after the first run of FPS games or those early Star Wars games that tragically my battered grey box hadn’t the raw power to run. Lucasarts offered me a less grunt heavy option with a series of point and click adventures, most notably Full Throttle and Grim Fandango, that gobsmacked in their humour and fiendish puzzle trickery. That was quite some time ago, and while Sam and Max: Beyond Time and Space quickly dribbles down off Xbox Live onto my console, I’m afeared that the once novel approach of a point and click will have lost its appeal.

To a large degree, I’m afraid it has, and that’s not to say the game doesn’t do it’s damndest to charm and amuse. It takes a cold heart to walk away from gaming treats such as Satanic Christmas carols, an Uzi toting Santa, and a giant mechanoid android who answers life’s questions by way of sentimental song quotes, even going so far as to quote Devo while tearing down a building. In the face of such wit how could anyone not adore such a game? Sadly, the clunky game mechanics feel terribly outdated; there’s been absolutely no attempt to bring the control system out of the mid 90’s. Beyond Good And Evil brilliantly updated point and click gaming to comfortably incorporate the modern gamers reliance on freedom in a 3D environment, but Sam and Max steadfastly sticks to a stiff system of movement, that invariably leads to intense frustration as you attempt to get your characters to go where you want them to. Gameplay like this was fantastic 15 years ago, but for new gamers who’ve not attempted a point and click before it’s far too restrictive and irritating, I can’t imagine many will get past the first episode in the game, it simply requires far more patience than you’re usually required to dole out.

In its defense though, if you’re still a fan of point and click adventures, and the relative success of new Monkey Island episodes indicates a lot of people still are, there’s a lot to enjoy here. The fairly saucy humour and kitschy graphics are wickedly funny, and the story is a riot. Whether it’s worth 1600 of your MS points though is another thing entirely…
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