Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rise of the Pirate God Review

This review was originally written for Associated Content on February 25, 2010. I can finally post this here as the rights have reverted back to me.

The finale takes the series to much darker places, as it finds Guybrush having to do things he's never done before, in a place he's never been before, but which is very familiar to his arch-enemy LeChuck.

Once again, the three control methods are still the same. There is the direct control method with the keyboard or a joystick, a combination of keyboard for movement and mouse to select items, and a click and drag method where you click Guybrush and drag him to where you want him to go. If you choose this last option, note that it's a little cumbersome, as you have to let go of the mouse button to select an object and then click Guybrush again in order to drag him to where you want him to go. Another thing worth noting in this game is that, whichever method you choose, there's a hitch in the engine where a cinematic camera angle doesn't work the way it should in the game. It is at the point at the ship where you find Morgan, when you go down, the ship will be shown but Guybrush will not. Whichever method you choose, you just have to go down and the camera will fix itself. The click and drag method is more difficult, as you have to search around the screen until you see an arrow like you'd see when you highlight Guybrush. Now, you just have to click the arrow and drag it down until the camera fixes itself.

The music is fittingly moody for this darker installment of the series. Dominic Armato, Alexandra Boyd, and Nikki Rapp do an excellent job once again as Guybrush, Elaine and Morgan respectively. The biggest bonus in this game is that Earl Boen, the voice of LeChuck in the previous Monkey Island games returns as LeChuck here. Although, if you played the first episode, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, on the Macintosh or waited to play it until the PC DVD release, then you would have heard Earl Boen as the zombie pirate LeChuck there too. He is much more menacing as the undead LeChuck than Adam Harrington was in the original version of the first episode. The new character, the dead man at the crossroads who at one point calls himself Galeb, is a fun new character. He is a habitual liar, so you never know if he's telling you the truth. Roger Jackson, the voice of Van Winslow, performs Galeb's voice as well. Speaking of Van Winslow, by this point I really like the character. There is a lot of character development for him in this episode, and Roger Jackson performs his role wonderfully as always. I was also glad to see the return of characters I enjoyed from previous games. Anenome, the merperson from the second episode, is once again given the right amount of vocal androgyny by Sirenetta Lioni. Bugeye, a character from the third episode, is enjoyably sour as ever, as voiced by Andrew Chaikin. The fourth episode is represented by another interesting character, Judge Grindstump, who is given a jolly demeanor with a bit of paranoia by Brian Summer. The returning characters further emphasize just how interesting most of the new characters are in this game, which is a welcome return after somewhat bland new characters in Escape from Monkey Island.

The backgrounds are dark, as they should be. Both the story and the atmosphere are noticeably darker in this game. Even the returning locations from previous games are presented in a darker light, due to the rampage LeChuck went on after he seemingly finally defeated his arch-nemesis for good. Despite the dark tones, there is still a good deal of detail. It still feels like Monkey Island. The camera issue I noticed before is a noticeable hiccup that spoils the experience somewhat. It is notable enough that it has received help issue posts at Telltale's forums. It even took me a while to figure out how to fix the issue, as I had at first thought that I had encountered a game stopping bug, as I'm sure many other people did. Hopefully Telltale fixes the issue for the PC DVD release, as the experience is quite good otherwise.

Although it doesn't reach the heights of the fourth episode, the final episode is a fitting close to a very exciting chapter in the Monkey Island saga. The main characters are excellent as always, the returning side characters are chosen wisely. They are all among the most interesting new characters of the season. The camera issue hurt the experience a little, but as long as you know how to fix the issue, it's not too big of a deal. I don't want to spoil the final puzzle, but I will say that while it is a well designed puzzle, it is exactly the same type of puzzle that occurs at the end of the first three Monkey Island games. It's not a deal breaker by any means, as it ends the game well, but I would have liked to have seen a final confrontation that was laid out less by-the-book in a season that otherwise did things differently from its predecessors.

Final Verdict:

4½ out of 5

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