Review by Skye7707

"Piratey Swashbuckling in an all new epic saga!"

After years and years of waiting and out of nowhere we get 5 episodes of Monkey Island goodness. Although it is not a LucasArts only project anymore, it seems Telltale Games has really put effort in Tales of Monkey Island. Is this the great successor of The Curse of Monkey Island? It might be! In this review I will take a closer look at all the aspects of the game going from game play over graphics to music and sound.

Game Play: 7/10

As its predecessor, Escape from Monkey Island, there is no point and click movement. Instead of this, you hold down the left mouse button and point in the direction you want to walk. To be honest I don't entirely like this, it just doesn't feel as good. If you're a qwerty keyboard user, you can also use the WASD keys for movement. AZERTY users are in the dark on this one as you cannot change the keys, however you can use the arrow buttons for movement as well. Hitting the I or tab button opens up your inventory and holding shift will make your favorite pirate run.

The GUI is really minimalistic, move your mouse to the right border of the screen and the inventory "scroll" will show up, click it and it will unfold. Say goodbye to drag and dropping items onto each other to combine them. There are two "holes" where you can put items for combining. Where there used to be several actions possible (e.g. Talk, Examine, ...) al you can do now is examine items with the magnifying glass. To have something in your inventory interact with the game, you can select the item and click on the point of interest. In my opinion they could have made this slightly better by keeping the way it was in previous games.

When there is some item or place of interest its name will show up and you can click it, the game will automatically use the appropriate action. So many awkward combinations which were sometimes very amusing in the Curse of Monkey Island aren't possible anymore. Dialogues have
been kept the same, you talk to a person and select a line from the options possible.

For those who are not exactly familiar with the point and click genre Telltale added a hint system, which is adjustable (from lots of hints to none at all) in the options menu. This is a fine addition for people who do not like to go look for a game guide if they can't find how to progress in the game.

Story: 7/10

The story is divided into 5 chapters, each being "separate games". Once more you're playing as "Mighty Pirate" Guybrush Threepwood. This time his clumsiness caused a major problem. Elaine got captured again, LeChuck has got a transformation and then there's this cursed hand. Each chapter reveals a piece of the puzzle and advances the story where Mister Wood goes to look for a cure and -finally- finishes of LeChuck once and for all.

This episode doesn't really end in a major cliffhanger, however the overall story seems fairly interesting. It should be more than enough to keep people coming back for the other four episodes.

Graphics: 8/10

After playing Escape I really feared they would use those graphics for TOMI as well, luckily they didn't. The fully 3D graphics might scare you at start, but they grow on you very fast. All the familiar characters have gotten a well done 3D transformation, some people are annoyed because they changed the appearance of Guybrush a bit (e.g. the multiple earrings) but trust me, you won't even notice those if you're not staring at your character.

If you have a high end machine you can make this game look really beautiful, the resolution can be set pretty high, as well as the level of detail. But if you have a regular computer with a modest GPU you might wanna reduce the quality and resolution a little. This is due to the fact your cursor will lag when you're moving it and it's extremely annoying. When playing in windowed mode, this happens even more because it takes a lot of CPU and GPU processing power.

Music / Speech / SFX: 8/10

They really kept close to the music of the previous Monkey Island games. The ambient music sounds great and is not too repetitive. Sound effects are subtle but a welcome addition to the atmosphere of the game. A feature introduced in CMI is speech... for ALL dialogues. This is really something, they got the same cast, so Guybrush, LeChuck and Elaine sound as you're used to. The voice acting in general is one of high quality. The many different voices all have the correct intonations according to the situation. Thanks to the lip sync, the character's faces move naturally when they are speaking.

Play Time / Replay Value: 8/10

I like it, really. There are five chapters in this story, each going from about 2 to 5 hours of playtime depending on how fast you solve the puzzles, if you talk to everyone and check out every little thing there is to check out. Unfortunately unlike Curse of Monkey Island there is no Mega Monkey mode with extra puzzles so replaying this doesn't give you anything extra. The only reason I can imagine someone replaying the game is when they rushed to play through it and now they wanna explore all the areas thoroughly. However, the game is amusing enough to play again after a year or so, just for fun. If you are someone who examines everything, talks to everyone after each event to hear and see all the dialogues in the game, you'll be in for a treat, as this will make the total play time a little more over eight hours.

Overall: 8/10

I really feared they might screw up but aside from the Telltale Games server drowning in the stream of enthusiastic people eager to get the first episode they really did an extremely good job adding a new chapter in the Monkey Island series. I am pretty positive the other four episodes will be of the same high quality development as this one or maybe even better. One can only hope that enough people buy the episodes so that Telltale will consider making more Monkey Island games and that way keep the Monkey Island series alive. That being said, here are some pro and cons of Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1 in a nutshell:

Pro:

* The play time is high considering this is just one out of five episodes probably each lasting 2 to 5 hours for regular Monkey Island players.
* The voice acting is very well done, the familiar voices of Guybrush, Elaine and LeChuck take you even deeper into the game's atmosphere.
* The usual pirate humor that's so typical for the Monkey Island games continues to make roll on the floor laughing.
* A thing I would like to see in all video games, saving and loading anywhere anytime.

Con:

* Somewhat clumsy movement system, they should have gone with the old point and click system The Curse of Monkey Island had
* The inventory should have remained the same as the previous games, quickly combining items is no more, it takes way more time now.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/10/09, Updated 07/16/09

Game Release: Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal (US, 07/07/09)


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