Sam & Max Episode 2x01: Ice Station Santa Reader Review
Having bought all of season one I have to say I was very happy with my purchase. It overall comes across like the awkward first season of a tv show. there were highs and lows and some lovely game play twists. The end of episode five was a massive highlight for me.
I was by no means convinced to buy the next season of episodes outright. however when I sat down to the demo of the first episode, Ice Station Santa, I found that all the game play niggles had been fixed. From basic stuff like a Pause button that stops everything from cut scenes to conversations and double click to run, to a much better hint system and a selectable level of difficulty. It's a much more solid package.
On purchasing it I found that this episode is also significantly longer then all the previous ones. In addition they are taking a real advantage of the serial format. It pulls a few strokes that are worthy of monkey island, but the references they make that are external to the episode are far more meaningful.
They have clearly taken there critics on board and done quite allot to improve and refine the way people will play there games. I did not share in the wave of nostalgia for Sam and Max, when they originally returned. I had never played the games, I'd only known the characters from the comics.
Personally I thought the games of the first season improved as the season went on, but review scores all seemed to be more connected to the accrued good will for the old games rather then focusing on the writing or game play.
The structure of the episode does allot to try and hide the standard adventure mechanic of Pick up item change location and hand item over to charicter. The themes that develop through out the episode give a great sense of a Christmas special for an animated show.
However; while it does introduce traditional holiday tropes like Santa, saving Christmas and giving the perfect gift. They do manage to keep a Sam and Max twist on everything that keeps it from being predictable.
Judging by the nature of the soda poppers reappearance and Sam and Max's reaction to them; I think that tell tale are signalling to the audience that they know when elements have out stayed there welcome.
If your curious in any way about the second season I do recommend playing the demo. The faster paced and much slicker opening puzzle and title sequence did allot to convince me that tell tale know what there doing and they are only getting better at making adventure games.
Overall it's solid and fast paced adventure with excellent energy and characters through out. Perhaps tell tale are not innovating as quickly as some would like, but they have polished the format to a provide a lovely smooth experience. Now that have worked the kinks out, innovation is clearly there target destination for the upcoming season.
9 / 10