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Sam & Max: They Stole Max's Brain! (PC) artwork

Sam & Max: They Stole Max's Brain! (PC) review

"Here, he needs to disturb an alliance between previous chapterís villains using chicanery and random vandalism, while disembodied Max, his brain kept snug in a sealed jar, complete with electronic voice box and L.E.D mouth, antagonizes all around him out of sheer boredom. "

The first game of Sam & Maxís third season with Telltale granted our little white psychotic bunny pal mysterious mental powers and faced the pair off against a warmongering space gorilla with the conquest of the universe firmly on his mind. Armed with his new powers, Max stopped being an angry, fuzzy distraction and started pulling his weight as one half of the duo. The second gave us the chance to zip around time, moving back and forth through reels of film that could give them glimpses of the future or allow them to take a step backwards to tinker with the foundations. In the third title, They Stole Maxís Brain!, the unique twist is a furious Sam.

After finding his fuzzy sidekick lobotomised, Sam loses the laid-back Bogart act and dons a hard-nosed flatfoot attitude. The tie and hat vanish, the sleeves are rolled up and a instant 5 oíclock shadow materialises. To suit his newly-found well of anger, Sam will jump in the teamís battered car and scour the area for witnesses. God help them when he finds them.

Still armed with the usual dialogue choice wheel employed in previous games, Sam now has the means to aggressively question perps. He can interrupt people mid-sentence, accusing them of lying or whipping out his oversized firearms and waving it in their face. The timing of the accusation is whatís important: waiting until the right moment to threaten or slip back into a smooth line of confusing noir. While the idea is humorously executed (and furious Sam is such a brilliant contradiction of his usual self), itís only used on the same three witnesses over and over again and can be easily advanced by just replaying the conversations over and over.

And then, itís over and itís right back into the standard point and click adventure shenanigans. Trapped in a museum, Sam has to rescue his friendís brain matter while trying to keep his lobotomised corpse looking lively enough so that the seven-foot cockroach security guard doesnít think it trash and hurl it in the incinerator. Here, he needs to disturb an alliance between previous chapterís villains using chicanery and random vandalism, while disembodied Max, his brain kept snug in a sealed jar, complete with electronic voice box and L.E.D mouth, antagonizes all around him out of sheer boredom.

The biggest drawback to They Stole Maxís Brain is how the previous chapters promoted such new ideas and the third episodeís addition feels underused and too brief. Once Sam calms down, itís back to the basics and, though thereís little to complain about in how this is carried out, it feels lacking in comparison. By this time, the once clumsy control method via a click-and-drag virtual analogue stick starts to feels a little more natural, but at a time when the episodic schedule is starting to catch up.

Itís maybe unfair to lambaste this episode for not being up to par with the previous two that have, quite simply, tried with some success to reinvent a genre coeval with the birth of PC gaming. Maybe had I not been spoiled, Iíd be penning something completely glowing. But I have! So this review is only going to be mostly glowing. Thatíll teach you to be so successful, Telltale!


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (July 03, 2010)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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wolfqueen001 posted July 16, 2010:

Interesting to see a Sam & Max game score lower than 7 for you, but after reading this, I can see why.

Hahahaha. I wonder how the publishers will react to you calling them out directly like you did at the end.

How many episodes are in this series again? 5? You're not much far off, then. I'm left wondering if indeed the developers threw in all their big guns early and now don't have much else to improve upon. But we'll see.

Interestingly, your user rating thing doesn't match the score in the review. Have a change of heart? =P

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