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Replaying Telltale's Game Catalog

posted by Jennifer Moderator on - last edited - Viewed by 4.7K users
I'm going to replay Telltale's game catalog, starting with their first game (Telltale Texas Hold'Em) and up to The Walking Dead (episode whatever is out when I'm done :D).

I'm mostly doing this to fill in the reviews on my blog that haven't been done yet, but I thought it would be fun to do for even the games that I've already reviewed and for the games that aren't adventures (which my blog doesn't cover).

I'm going to start Telltale Texas Hold'Em now and I'll post my thoughts about it once I've played through enough that I've heard the majority of the dialog. :D

If anyone wants to play along, and/or add your own comments about the games feel free. :)
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  • Another great review Jennifer :) I hope Strong Bad is next :D
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    Jennifer Moderator
    ryannumber1gamer;764660 said:
    Another great review Jennifer :) I hope Strong Bad is next :D
    Thanks. :) I keep coming back to this topic because at least a few people seem to like my look back reviews. :)

    I'm doing them in order, so Strong Bad is... 2 games away (or really 7, considering I'm doing each episode (other than the CSI cases) seperately). So, CSI: Hard Evidence (and I just realized I never finished the final case in that one since I only played it on Xbox 360 and the disc was too scratched to finish the final case), and the 5 episodes of Sam & Max Season Two, then Strong Bad.

    I'll try not to take 2 months between these look back reviews though. :p
  • Jennifer;764703 said:
    I keep coming back to this topic because at least a few people seem to like my look back reviews. :)
    I enjoy these reviews too, so keep 'em coming. I haven't played any of the CSI games even though I got one of them in a free shipping sale some years back. It will be interesting to read your review.
  • Well i thought i would mention that i might replay S&M Season 3 and post my thoughts here :) I did it for Strong Bad Ep 1 and i think i will post my thoughts for S&M here as well :)
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    Jennifer Moderator
    Eh, I wasn't going to continue this here since this forum no longer lets you mark individual spoilers, but since this replay retrospective barely had any, I thought I'd just slightly edit it to remove the spoilers altogether and post it here too.

    It's time to get to the games I haven't done replay retrospectives for before.

    But first, a bonus thought for CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder (I read the first Fables trade paperback, and noticed one of the crimes uses the same plot device (regarding the case in both where there is a lot of blood and no body). So it looks like someone made a Fables story into a game over at Telltale even before The Wolf Among Us came out. ;)).

    Here's my thoughts on CSI: Hard Evidence, played on the Xbox 360.

    The bad:

    Sometimes dialog cuts off early, particularly in the tutorial section.

    Since it was made only a year after the last game, the graphics haven’t improved much. Like it’s predecessor, this game really shows it’s age graphically due to the realistic style chosen when the engine really wasn’t capable of that yet. Like 3 Dimensions of Murder, the characters do resemble their characters enough to be recognizable, but there’s definitely still some uncanny valley going on here.

    The blatant product placement in the series really kicks into full gear here. The Hewlett Packard computers are subtle, but all of the Visa advertisements really stand out in a bad way.

    There’s some obvious reuse of areas and character models. The areas aren’t bad, since it’s said to be different rooms in the same hotel, but the character models are distracting, especially in one case involving four victims.

    Sometimes you can’t examine evidence, and you’re told you don’t have the warrant for that yet, when that reasoning makes no sense in context, other than for plot necessity.

    Sometimes the camera pans in on an item. It’s not quite as bad as in Back to the Future, since it only happens after a line of questioning relating to the item, and close-up shots are a big part of the CSI franchise. However, the close-up shots still happen even if you already examined the evidence prior to questioning the witness about it, which makes the close-up shot feel redundant and unnecessary.

    Your character is no longer a treated as a rookie CSI, but it’s left ambiguous as to whether you are the same character as before. Grissom sometimes asks if you met someone that he introduced you to in the previous game, but the question is never answered (he runs CSI though, and you only worked one case each with each of the CSIs last time, so it’s not implausible that he doesn’t remember exactly who you met before). So, you are treated as someone who is not completely new to the job, but are still new compared to the rest of the team. However, even if you are not a rookie CSI this time, since you still have your superiors, the format from the previous game still works here.

    The good:
    This is Telltale’s first game to incorporate a tutorial section, and here it is completely optional. It’s a silly, yet fun case where you train by using the tools of the CSI crime lab to learn who stole and ate Grissom’s donut.

    The presentation still really feels like the show. Like before, as you progress in the game, there are scenes with music from the show and establishment shots of Las Vegas when you move to a new location. The music in other locations was once again composed by Jared Emerson-Johnson, and, while being quite low-key, fits the game well. Once again, all of the Hollywood-style CSI technology from the show is available for you to use in the lab, and the famous closeup shots when evidence is discovered are also once again present in the game.

    This time though, the tools are more streamlined, and less confusing. You now have a PDA which can choose which location to visit, examine evidence, read the case file, and receive messages from supervisors. But the best improvement is in the tools themselves. When you choose the detection and collection menus, only the tools of a certain type are selectable based on your evidence. You still have to select the right tool for the job, based on the tool’s description, but since the only tools presented are the ones that can be used for what you’re trying to do, chances are you’ll hear the “that’s not the right tool for that” line less often than before. Computers now also flash when you are able to use a piece of evidence on them.

    The repetitiveness of the “way to be thorough” line from the last game is solved in a clever way in this game. You can still check areas with no evidence, but rather than repeating the line, it’s only said once and the rest of the time an indicator comes up telling you that you got a thoroughness point. These points are counted up, along with how well you did investigating and questioning witnesses with your final performance review by Grissom at the end of each case.

    The collectables make their first appearance in a Telltale game here. In the show, Grissom likes to collect bugs, so you can find bugs in the game. Finishing each case, collecting all the bugs, and achieving master ranking on all the cases gets you trailers, storyboards, and concept art. This is a precursor to things in later Telltale games like the stickers won in the bonus games in the Sam & Max seasons and the collectibles and awesomeness rankings in Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People.

    Once again, they got most of the original voices to do the voices of the characters here, which again really helps to give it the feel of playing five episodes of the show. The deliveries here are a bit better than in the first game, as the lines said by the show’s cast are delivered in a slightly less dry manner than before, and they do seem more natural. The suspects are are again voiced well too, with some later Telltale regulars appearing such as Gavin Hammon (who delivers an excellent performance as the new age hippy Ed Freeborn).

    The cases are interesting, and would fit right in with the show, though there's nothing quite as clever as the First Person Shooter case in the previous game.

    There's still no overarching plot, but the last case again connects to previous cases.

    Though none of the cases quite hit the high of the best case of the previous game, the cases are all still interesting in their own right, and the improvements in the game design over the original make up for the lack of a real standout case. The design is streamlined to make the game less confusing and more fun to play, the repetitive dialog is trimmed down, the original cast seems to be getting used to their voice roles, as they put in a more natural performance, and the supporting cast is good as well. The game successfully uses music from the show, and the additional music by Jared Emerson-Johnson, while low-key, fits the game perfectly.

    Once again, this game isn't for anyone. All of the improvements did nothing to make this game more enticing to those who don't like the CSI franchise, or at least like Hollywood's style of exaggerated crime scene investigation techniques. If you do like these kind of shows, you'll most likely enjoy this game. If you don't like them, then you won't like this game either, since it follows the formula so closely.

    I’d give it a 3½ out of 5 (or a 7 out of 10)
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    Jennifer Moderator

    I updated the version of this thread I made over at Double Fine, so I figured I'd update this one too.


    Now let's get the game train movin' again. I played Sam & Max: Season Two: Ice Station Santa on Xbox 360 (again so I could get the benefits of the port, namely widescreen and Sam's paw for a cursor). I later also played it on PlayStation 3. So, here's my breakdown on my replay.

    The good:
    Telltale changed things around on the street for a much needed break from the routine. Plus, the way they did it was a lot of fun.

    Which brings me to: Maimtron 9000. He'd get annoying after a while, but he's definitely fun in short doses. The fact that he speaks in mostly song lyrics is actually pretty funny.

    Flint Paper finally makes a cameo appearance (his story about what he did last year and Max's reaction was pretty funny)

    Bosco's store gets an overhaul worthy of his paranoia, and he finally drops his disguise schtick (plus Sam and Max's comment about Bosco without a disguise was quite hilarious)

    You have to love a rampaging Santa (there's a reason The Night Santa Went Crazy is a hit with Weird Al fans at his concerts ;)), and the explanation on why he was doing it was actually pretty good, in a bizarre Sam & Max universe kind of way.

    The Punch-Out inspired boxing mini game (complete with a Punch-Out style theme song). This is really just QTE, but it's done in a much less invasive way than Telltale's current games, and the prompts for which button to hit are actually old-school visual cues from the characters (Punch-Out style) making it much more natural, and actually give the illusion of direct control.

    The jumping between time streams (A Christmas Carol style), and the puzzles related to them. Telltale designed some pretty good puzzles here using the time stream mechanic.

    I really like the bug. He was funny in season one, and he's funny here as well. Plus his setup was the first of the random birthday songs, which will make more sense as the season goes on.

    Stinky. She's kind of annoying here, but that's the point of her character. Her voice actress actually handles the character pretty well, so it keeps the character from going into Soda Popper territory.

    Most of the versions are presented with the same traditional point and click interface as the first season. The exception is the version for PlayStation 3, which is direct controlled. The interface in this game differs from that in their later direct controlled games, as movement is controlled with the left stick, and rather than having a cursor controlled by the right stick, objects are selected by toggling between them with the shoulder buttons. It's kind of cumbersome, but it's not too bad once you get used to it.

    The bad:
    Not a major upgrade in graphics style from the first season, so the jagged edges on the characters are still noticeable at times

    Sam & Max's office is starting to really get stale by this point. For the change of the street, the same can't be said here as most of the office is the same, save for the extra addition to Sam & Max's closet full of souvenirs of their cases and the hole in the wall leading to Flint's office.

    The Soda Poppers still have their annoying adult trying to sound like a kid voices. Last season showed they weren't too bad actually when their voices were toned down when they were sad. They actually aren't that bad when toned down, but they're at full force here.

    It's actually a pretty good episode, as the puzzles are really fun, the story is fun (and inspired Tellale to re-edit the episode into a Sam & Max YouTube Christmas Special), and the characters are enjoyable (and the Soda Poppers have a really small role).

    I'd give it a 4½ out of 5 (or a 9 out of 10)

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