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Wallace & Gromit Episode 4: The Bogey Man

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

They've fought off giant bees, built a resort and even foiled the plans of an evil businessman. Now Wallace and Gromit face their biggest challenge yet -- the end of Wallace's swinging bachelor lifestyle.

As with the past four episodes, Telltale manages to capture the look and feel of the Wallace and Gromit shorts. I've said a lot in previous writings about the smaller details found in every bit of the game, but there's something to be said about the larger set pieces as well. The claymation style comes across exceedingly well and helps infuse each of the game's cast members with the personality and charm usually missing in game visuals. Long time fans of the games and shorts will also notice a number of call-backs hidden within each level, which is a nice touch.

Nearly all of the principle actors voice their roles in the series' fourth installment, and in the case a principle isn't around, Telltale was able to get the official stand-ins. This isn't much different from past games, so fans should already know what to expect. Good, solid acting and an entertaining story.


Gameplay:

Wallace & Gromit Episode 4: The Bogey Man is the fourth game in the Wallace & Gromit series on XBLA. This time Wallace, the well-intentioned but absent-minded inventor, wakes up to discover he's engaged to Ms. Flitt, his neighbor. Of course, Wallace isn't ready to tie the knot and no matter how much he tries to explain it, he can't seem to get Ms. Flitt off the idea. Luckily, Gromit discovers the one thing Ms. Flitt and her great aunt can't stand is golfers, setting the duo on a quest to become members of the exclusive Prickly Thicket Country Club. As usual, things don't go as planned.

The Bogey Man follows the same gameplay as the previous games, so nothing should come as any sort of surprise for series veterans. If, however, you're new to the series, the basic rundown follows the same premise as other point-and-click adventure games. Playing as both Wallace and Gromit, you play through sequences of the story. Most are built around one key puzzle, usually requiring you to solve a series a smaller puzzles using objects in the environment.

As always, the formula doesn't lend itself to replay, though the first time around, you'll find five or six hours of challenges great for bite-sized play sessions. Provided you don't snag them all on one play (which is hard without a guide), Achievements add another reason to go through the game, but only if you're interested in increasing your GamerScore.


Difficulty:

After a slight departure from trial-and-error gameplay in Wallace & Gromit Episode 3: Muzzled!, Wallace & Gromit Episode 4: The Bogey Man returns to old habits. Puzzle design is polished, but sometimes feels a little too obscure. This is different for the series since even the more illogical puzzles (which I call Wallace-Logic Puzzles) still followed some sort of straightforward reasoning. I can understand the desire to create challenging situations, but some puzzle solutions require leaps in logic and reasoning, so the internal logic is a little off-center. This is, of course, the exception and not the rule. Only one or two puzzles are really affected by illogical leaps, but I found myself turning to walkthroughs to get through a situation - something I've never had to do. On the plus side, experimenting with solutions is fun and you're never punished for making bad calls.

Game Mechanics:

Mechanically, Wallace & Gromit Episode 4: The Bogey Man changes little from past games. I'll admit I wasn't a fan of the control setup during Wallace & Gromit Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees, but its really grown on me. After going through Sam & Max: Beyond Space and Time, I'm convinced Wallace & Gromit's setup is probably the way to handle point-and-click adventure games on a console.

Rather than using a pointer to navigate areas, you use the analog stick to guide the duo through levels. When you're near a usable object, a press of the (A) button either uses or collects the object for future use in another puzzle. Alternately, you can use the shoulder buttons to cycle through objects in the room. Neither setup is better than the other and you'll probably use both throughout your adventure. Is either as precise as a mouse? Never, but Telltale did the best with what they were given.

As I've said in previous reviews, Wallace & Gromit Episode 4: The Bogey Man is just the sort of game XBLA needs. It's unique, looks great and, best of all, fun. Though it's recommended you start from the beginning with Fright of the Bumblebees, you can easily jump into The Bogey Man, but you'll probably want to try the other three games after you're done.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Related Links:



Microsoft Xbox 360 Wallace and Gromit Episode 3: Muzzled! Nintendo DS Diner Dash: Flo on the Go

 
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