I've been a fan of the Leisure Suit Larry series since I was six years old. That's right, six. I used to just guess randomly at Larry 1's questions until I (occasionally) got it right and was allowed to play. Didn't understand what was happening in the game until that wonderful thing known as puberty hit, of course, but it was still fun. And believe me; I was unbelievably sad when I learned that Larry 8 was canceled.
Then, about 5 years later, I learned Magna Cum Laude was on its way, and I was excited: They're bringing back one of my favorite series of games. Heck, I even started fantasizing that this wasn't the end of it; maybe they'd bring back some of the other classics, too (Space Quest, King's Quest and Quest for Glory to name but a few...). Then I started getting news and I became suspicious, but I decided to buy it anyway, if only for novelty value, and so I preordered it and had it shipped directly to me. After a few minutes of playing it, I'd have to say it was a pretty enjoyable game. However, there are a few things you need to do to enjoy it.
The first is most important: if you are a Larry fan, DO NOT try to compare this game with the others. Trust me. This may have the same name, but the gameplay is totally different. For one, instead of the point-and-click side scrolling interface, now it's totally interactive (ala Simpsons: Hit & Run), and so you have to walk around in order to get where you need to, instead of just pointing at something and clicking. Also, there aren't any real puzzles in the game like the old ones; now it's all mini-game based. If you want to score with a chick, get money to buy items, boost your confidence level or do pretty much anything of interest, chances are good you'll play a mini game. There are several to choose from, from Pong and Pa Rappa imitations, to a rendition of Quarters (you have to move your mouse/stick back and forth in a fluid motion to bounce a quarter into the cup. Each time you do, the other person takes a drink. First one hosed loses) and a conversation mini-game (you guide a little happy sperm along and hit icons to get Larry to say the right thing). So yeah, it's a very different game.
Second, you have to be patient. Very patient. This is due to the load times which are the first things to subtract a point from the game's score. I've heard stories about PS2s and Xboxes taking up to 20-30 seconds to load on average. I own the PC version, and mine is sufficiently powerful to that it only takes around 10-15 on average. However, the main problem isn't the time; it's that there are load sequences for EVERY SINGLE SCENE AND GAME. If you want to walk somewhere, there's a load time each time you move through a scene. To get in a mini-game, there's a load time. To watch a movie sequence, there's a load time. So it takes you a somewhat excessive amount of time to get from point A to point B. Though not a game killer in this case by any means, it's still somewhat frustrating.
The mini games themselves are the other thing which took it down a notch. While they're all fun and creative and sometimes humorous the first time you play them, the fact remains that there are WAY too few of them. Therefore, the designers simply reused the same ones over and over and over again for all aspects. This is forgivable for the Conversations (it stays fun the whole time with different combinations and lines), but the rest simply get repetitive after a bit. This wouldn't be a problem, but you also have to get money and confidence, and the only way to get them is usually to play these mini games over and over again (there are some interesting and easy ways to get cash, if you can figure it out). So, though they're fun for a while, they get old very quickly.
Third, you can't play this game for sex. The one thing that carries over from the other Larry games is the whole "Lovable Loser" part, with concentrates on the latter. Almost every time you try and score, something happens to screw it up. So playing this game simply to watch porn is simply not going to happen. Even when you do get them uncovered, censor signs cover up most of it. Basically, you play this game for the story and the humor then anything else, just like the old series.
That's not to say it doesn't have nudity. There's a ton of that, fully shown and rendered. It's only the sex and genitals (non-booby sex stuff) that get censored.
Fortunately, the story and humor were my main concerns, and they seem to have come through almost completely intact. The story (finally) is that you play the Nephew of the previous character, who is trying to get on a date show at his college, and he has to prove himself by bedding as many girls as possible. I'd say the side quests, and the quests for girls are interesting and fit the context of the game. As you probably guessed, they're all stereotypes, but some have a serious personality twist built in that nobody expects, and some have situations that are just totally wacky. Some even carry over from previous "conquests". And it's got replay ability, in the form of hidden stuff, bonus items, and even a small form of multiple endings (won't spoil it). As for the humor, well it seems the Larry legacy passed from uncle to nephew quite well. Even though Larry-creator and ultra-humorist Al Lowe wasn't on board, the humor that was scattered through out the game was quite varied in style and had me rolling for most of the game. Some of it is visual, some obscene wisecrack, but all of it had my sides bursting. This, of course, is up to your own personal preference, but my preference coincides quite nicely to this. Heck, they even managed to get some of the recurring jokes from previous games in there.
The graphics were splendid. I have a 3.0 GHZ, with 1 GIG of ram and a Radeon 9800, so I was fine with frame rates. The girls and Larry, naturally, look the best, while everything else looks cartoony and zany enough to give it the whole "Farce in Motion" feel. The sound was superb, and the voice acting was on the spot. The music was nice and usually managed to set the atmosphere, even though I sometimes found myself cringing with old stand-bys like "I'm to Sexy" and "Love Machine". And the controls were very easy to master, though the Quarters and Trampoline game (yes, girls on trampolines) still give me some trouble.
All in all, I'd say this is a pretty good game, ESPECIALLY in light of the $30 price tag. All you need to do to enjoy it is follow the basic steps:
-Don't think of it as a sequel to the other Larry games. Treat it like a totally
different game with the same name and familiar faces
-Don't play this game just to see sex. You won't get it (without the European
-Expect, and prepare for long periods of waiting for load times
-Bring along a wacky and crass sense of humor
If you can do all of that, then this Larry game can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and you might just max out your own pleasure at playing it while helping Larry max out his at making it.
Love ya, baby!
Leisure Suit LarryESRB:
Platform: PC Games