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Wallace and Gromit Episode 3: Muzzled!

Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The third episode of the Wallace & Gromit series on XBLA, Wallace & Gromit Episode 3: Muzzled!, finds Wallace hawking another hair-brained invention while Gromit takes on a more heroic role.

Another Wallace & Gromit game means another stylish game on XBLA. Muzzled! continues the trend set in past games and does an excellent job of recreating the look of a typical Wallace and Gromit claymation adventure. Everything has been faithfully translated to the videogame version, right down to small creases, fingerprint smudges and even a faint crack or two on an oft-used joint. As neat as it is to look at high-octane games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, I'm actually more curious about how Telltale was able to recreate some of the game's smaller blemishes.

Audio is still great and even manages to clean up some of the issues found in the second game, The Last Resort. Characters sound comfortable in delivering their lines and even manage to nail the timing on jokes, which is harder than it sounds.


Gameplay:

Wallace & Gromit Episode 3: Muzzled! places more of a focus on Gromit than past games, allowing him to step a little further away from the sidekick role. He may be the silent type, but seeing Gromit in action is fun, sort of like when Robin got the chance to have a solo adventure away from Batman. Still, Wallace is a big part of the story.

After a terrible storm destroys the local animal shelter, all of the dogs run amok through town. Conveniently, Monty Muzzle shows up at just the right time and proposes a fair to help raise money for a new shelter. Everyone gets in on the act, including Wallace, who decides the fair is the perfect place to show off his new invention, a machine that can scan anything and turn it into an ice cream flavor. However, Monty's real intentions for the fair are as fishy as a helping of fish-flavored ice cream, sending Gromit on a mission to get to the bottom of things with a trio of stray dogs.

Muzzled! is more interesting than past games for two key reasons. First, it is probably the game's first "real" story. Humor is still a big part of the proceedings, but here it seems that most of the focus is on Gromit's quest to unravel the mystery behind Monty's plan. Nothing feels forced and is always entertaining. Additionally, puzzles are more tightly woven into the story. Puzzles and the story mesh in a better way, making for a better game overall.


Difficulty:

Looking at the actual puzzles, Wallace & Gromit Episode 3: Muzzled! is slightly more challenging than past games, but in a good way. The game is broken into four short sections that aren't particularly difficult, but will still challenge you to come up with interesting solutions. Most puzzles require some searching and exploration, as well as coming up with different solutions.

Areas are small, so exploration isn't a chore and solutions make sense. The previous two titles (in particular, The Last Resort) sometimes seemed to rely a little too much on trial-and-error. Puzzles followed a strong internal logic, but just seemed a little distant from normal logic. There's still a bit of fuzzy logic going on in Muzzled!, but with the story serving as a better brace, it doesn't feel as frustrating.


Game Mechanics:

The more I play Wallace & Gromit games, the more I'm convinced the setup is probably the way to go when it comes to console point-and-click adventures. Wallace and Gromit move around areas like any other third-person game using the Left Analog Stick and interact with the environment using the Right Analog Stick, while (A) activates useable objects. Alternately, you can cycle through selectable objects using the shoulder buttons. The setup gets a bit tedious when there are numerous items to choose between, but it's a great option when you need it and removes peck-and-find issues present when using a keyboard/ mouse.

Replay is still a major issue with Wallace & Gromit Episode 3: Muzzled!, though the included Achievements help a lot. Oddly enough, I found chasing down some of the more out-of-the-way Achievement conditions more entertaining than the in-game puzzles. This isn't a slight against the puzzles, but it does help add something else to the game - that is, if you're into unlocking Achievements. Otherwise, you'll likely play Muzzled! once and be done with it. Either way, it's worth a couple of space bucks to download.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Related Links:



Microsoft Xbox 360 Wallace and Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort Microsoft Xbox 360 Wallace & Gromit Episode 4: The Bogey Man

 
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