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Wallace and Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort

Score: 86%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

It's been an odd two months on XBLA, at least when it comes to point-and-click adventure games. After a slow trickle of adventure games on the service, there's been a deluge (relatively speaking) of titles hitting, including three games from the Wallace & Gromit series. Although all three hitting at the same time does feel a bit compressed, you are at least given the choice to be choosey this time around.

I was really impressed with Wallace & Gromit Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees's visuals, and am just as impressed with Wallace & Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort. The series manages to retain the claymation style of the cartoons right down to smaller blemishes like nicks and smudgy finger prints. It'll likely wrinkle the noses of a few visual connoisseurs who demand HD perfection in every polygon, but I enjoy more stylish things. The same, however, can't be said for the script and voice acting.

The Last Resort is a funny game, or at least one of the funnier ones I've played in the last year or so. At the same time, it shows why humor is so hard to do not just in a game, but any media. Both Wallace and Gromit are true to their characters, though some of the jokes feel a little thin. Some of this may be due to a new voice actor for Wallace. The stand-in is great, but timing feels off. But, at least you've got Gromit's facepalm to come back to.


Gameplay:

In Wallace & Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort, the duo is getting ready for holiday (vacation for you Yanks), only to have their plans ruined by weather. Not one to let something like nature get in the way of anything, Wallace converts the duo's basement into a beach resort. Wallace aims to offer first-class accommodations for all his neigh... errr, guests and does a rather good job at it. That is until one of the guests, Donald, is assaulted at the resort. Looking to keep the peace and provide excellent service, the duo fires up Wallace's newest invention, the Deduct-o-matic, and sets out to solve the mystery.

As with Fright of the Bumblebees, The Last Resort is split up into different sections telling a different part of the story. Things kick off with Wallace trying to convert his flooded basement into a beach resort by collecting sand, umbrellas and other items you would expect from a beach holiday. This involves searching for items in levels and, using Wallace's inventiveness, solving puzzles. Puzzles require some fuzzy logic (more later), but follow a line of logic. The story structure also helps to hem some helpful restraints into puzzles.

A key issue with The Last Resort is the replay value. Once you've figured out a puzzle, there's little incentive to replay the game. This is one case where Achievements come in handy. In addition to awarding Achievements for completing each section, Telltale has also included a few out-of-the-way tasks to earn a bulk of the game's 200 GamerPoints.


Difficulty:

Wallace & Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort sits in a funny convergence between challenge, ease-of-play and frustration. Though a number of solutions require a bit of Wallace-like logic, there's at least a consistent internal logic to every puzzle. Things make sense within the game's context and nothing jumps out at you as being too "out there." At the same time, some of the logic isn't as easy to follow, or even figure out. Compared to Fright of the Bumblebees, The Last Resort seems to feature a few more usable items and more guesswork. More solutions came through luck and trial-and-error than deductive thinking. Of course, a little trial-and-error is expected in an adventure game, though with The Last Resort, it sometimes felt like trying to fit a square into a round hole in the dark.

Game Mechanics:

Wallace & Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort is built on the same framework as Fright of the Bumblebees, though the experience is slightly different from Sam & Max, Telltale's other point-and-click XBLA series. Here, you control either Wallace or Gromit and navigate through small areas interacting with objects to solve puzzles. This usually involves moving towards an area and clicking (A). Compared to Sam & Max, this is a better setup. There aren't as many camera issues, and it's easier to see what's happening.

Telltale has also included a second way which involves using the shoulder buttons to scroll through all of the usable items in the room. Neither method holds any sort of advantage of the other; rather, their use is usually situational. For example, if the solution is obvious, you can walk to the object, press (A) and you're done. If, however, you're stuck on what to do next, you can always scroll through the available objects until you stumble upon something. Unlike Fright of the Bumblebees, you'll scroll through objects more frequently than walking up to something, but that goes hand-in-hand with the trial-and-error gameplay.

Wallace & Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort is, like Fright of the Bumblebees, the type of game XBLA needs to see more releases of. It's short, different and most of all, fun.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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