By Special Guest Writer – Jennifer Allen
Who can honestly say that they don’t like Wallace and Gromit? For the un-informed: they’re a ridiculously charming Yorkshire based pair who always seems to be caught up in various humorous and wacky situations, making for some entertaining television for all the family. Oh and did I mention this is all done through the wonders of plasticine? Yes Wallace and Gromit truly is something a little bit special. A series of game episodes have been released for the PC over recent months, so it’s great news to finally see Telltale Games release the remaining three episodes for the Xbox 360 in one big rush. It is a pity though that through doing this, the true weaknesses of the series have shined through a little more than I suspect they would have if they’d been released gradually, as was the case on the PC.
The stories on offer are all very typical Wallace and Gromit fodder, offering a huge dose of charm as well as various in jokes and parodies of other forms of media. The Last Resort sees Wallace and Gromit converting their house into a holiday resort, and their cellar into a beach after bad weather ruins their holiday plans. Things go awry when one of their neighbours Duncan McBiscuit is assaulted by an unknown assailant and it’s down to Gromit to track down ‘whodunnit’ with the assistance of Wallace’s latest concoction: The Deduct-o-matic. It’s a story that works reasonably well with the majority of puzzles being quite logical in their manner. The problem is it’s all a little disjointed; none of the stories are really connected making each episode feel distinctly separate from the other. Something that Telltale Games averted admirably with their release of Sam and Max Season 1 and 2, surely something that could have been done here.
The third episode, Muzzled was my favourite. It had a strong storyline although lacked some of the humour that the other episodes have in abundance. It focuses on a passing philanthropist arriving with plans to host a huge fundraising fair to build a new animal shelter, when really he’s plotting to enslave the animals, not save them. A lot of the enjoyment comes from the fact that you mainly control Gromit the dog, a character that is much simpler to navigate than Wallace as well as often funnier despite his inability to speak. Muzzled is also quite fast paced for a point and click adventure, meaning that the action doesn’t feel anywhere near as stilted as other episodes.
Unfortunately the final episode, The Bogey Man, is very much the weakest of the series, offering far too many repetitive puzzles, and worst of all: puzzles that rely on you randomly trying things rather than thinking logically about the solution. The story also feels rather weak, reusing far too many locations and characters that have been used in previous instalments. It focuses on Wallace accidentally having proposed to his next door neighbour Ms Flitt, and Wallace’s need to join the exclusive country club to put her off. It’s a flimsy tale that quickly begins to grate.
It’s a terrible shame that Telltale Games released these episodes in one big go, due to the pair’s 20th Anniversary, rather than releasing them gradually as was the case on the PC. Playing each episode one after the other highlights just how slow and drawn out the games really are. Unlike the Sam and Max series, it feels like there’s an awful lot of filler. Too many puzzles feel like they’ve been added simply to lengthen the game, which considering each game only takes a few hours at most to complete, really isn’t up to standard. Pitting the last three episodes against each other also means that many gamers may feel conflicted as to whether they really want to spend 2400 points on these three games when they can buy an entire season of Sam and Max for 1600 points, an infinitely superior series of point and click games.
Wallace and Gromit may be more appropriate for the younger gamer but for the adult gamer, it’s a very tough one to recommend unless you’ve already burned through all the Sam and Max games and are looking for something new. The Wallace and Gromit games aren’t bad, it’s just that they just could, and should, be so much better.