Version tested: Xbox 360
"Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while playing this game." That message appears on first loading screen you see in Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust. You might as well enjoy the joke, as it's funnier than anything else in the game. It's also the only joke that does not revolve around penises, vaginas or the fact that sometimes people like to put one inside the other.
It's only a joke at all because the funny thing is before long you will want to get into your car and drive as far away as you can from this game. Then you will want to use heavy machinery to crush everyone involved in its creation, from the person responsible for drawing Larry's hateful face to the person who put the staples in the manuals.
The storyline, on the off chance you give the tiniest toss, is some gibberish about movie studios spying on each other. It all takes place in the town of Tinselwood - Ha! Ha! - and there lots of unfunny film references: posters for Driving Miss Maisey's Hearse, mini-games called Bitanic and Beefcake Mountain and so on. There's also plenty of sexual innuendo. In some cases they didn't even bother with the innuendo bit; there's a movie studio called Anus Productions.
The script is dreadful. Larry yammers away incessantly and infuriatingly, saying things like, "Mission bend over, spread 'em and get ready to be accomplished long and hard!" and "I'll turn you on - uh, I mean I'll turn on the fan!" To remind you the game has an 18 rating, cut-scenes are laden with expletives even though they add nothing in the way of either exposition or humour. It's like a stupid adult version of Smurf language: "Let's sh** over to the sh**mobile and sh** back to the sh***ing castle, Gargamel!"
The voice talent has been provided by the likes of Carmen Electra, Shannon Elizabeth and Jay Mohr, from whom you'd expect this kind of thing. But Jeffrey Tambor, aka Hank in Larry Sanders and George Bluth Sr. from Arrested Development - what are you doing, sir? Wiping the good stuff off the whiteboard of your legacy and drawing a big cock instead, that's what.
Speaking of which, your first objective is to scrub a load of pictures of cocks off some walls. This is about as risqué, exciting, amusing and arousing as Box Office Bust ever gets. Almost all the missions are tedious fetch quests and you spend less time doing them than you do running between them, visiting the same old locations again and again.
Larry's animations are terrible - he runs like he only had his callipers taken off two hours ago and jumps in a weird, floaty, arms akimbo way, like a monkey who's had its stomach pumped full of helium. His fingers never grab ledges properly; they just hover a few centimetres above. Sometimes he will decide he can't jump on the crate right in front of him because he doesn't feel like it, or will bounce off a wall for no good reason. Sometimes his hands and even forearms disappear into the scenery. Sometimes when I am driving on the road at night I have the sudden impulse to turn into the path of the oncoming car as I anticipate the sound of shattering glass and the flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.
It feels endless. Larry runs around the same old places, fulfilling mission objectives which are minor variations on the familiar theme of "Go and get a thing and bring it back here." The closest the game ever gets to entertaining is the package delivery mission where you get to drive the post truck; the handling is pathetic but at least you don't have to watch Larry's stupid running animation. Incidentally, when he does get out of the truck and runs into the building you don't see him carrying the package, oh no; it just magically appears in the cut-scene. Then, when you leave the building, the truck will have magically disappeared, presumably to the same place the parcel came from.
That's if you can leave. When you're inside buildings the camera is fixed, often in a stupid position. This leads to Larry getting stuck behind bits of scenery or unable to enter rooms for reasons you cannot see. You can control the camera when you're outside, but you won't want to; there's nothing to see but poorly rendered buildings, terrible textures, hilarious pixellisation and tearing.
In cut-scenes many of the characters are afflicted with a strange disease, which speckles their skin with luminous grains, and they all have frightening teeth that appear to be individually lit from within. There are even weirder characters wandering around the sparsely populated streets - some of them don't have facial features until they're a few feet away from you, at which point their nose, mouth and eyes pop out of nowhere. The game box informs us Box Office Bust was built with "Unreal Technology".
It's not even worth addressing the issue of whether Leisure Suit Larry is sexist. It's impossible to care. It's certainly not sexy. At least the terrible Lula 3D had actual tits and sex in. This game just has clothed women with beachballs stuffed down their tops and the kind of innuendo that hasn't been seen since the Carry On films, which they haven't made since 1978 for a reason. (Yes all right Carry On Columbus but everyone knows that doesn't count and should be locked away in a concrete bunker to be forgotten for the rest of time along with fascism, dreadlocks on white people and Box Office Bust.)
Let's review some of the words used in this article: hateful, toss, stupid, tedious, terrible, dreadful, pathetic. That about sums it up, but just to be clear: do not buy this game. You will not only want your money back, you will want reimbursement for the electricity consumed by your Xbox 360 in the six minutes it took to realise you had made a horrible mistake. It's impossible to understand why Codemasters plucked this from the rubble of the Vivendi-Activision merger, like a shellshocked Blitz victim retrieving the dead cat instead of the family jewels.
At least they're only asking GBP 19.99 for it, but that's GBP 19.99 more than Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust is worth. It's not funny, it's not fun to play and it's less erotic than psoriasis. As the Smurfs would say: **** off, Larry.
2 / 10