Review: Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded12 Aug 2013 0
Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is a remake of the 25-year-old point-and-click adventure game Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the game feels like a 25-year-old point-and-click adventure game. Here’s my “Top Gun” confession: I’ve not played any Leisure Suit Larry games before I cracked open Reloaded. So, if you’re a fan of the series, take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt. I’m looking at Reloaded as a new game, without the benefit of nostalgia to help prop it up.
As a 25-year-old game, the mechanics in Reloaded are certifiably vintage: find obscure item and then try to use said item to solve mostly ridiculous, but occasionally logical, puzzles. But before we knock Larry for that, it's worth remembering that most cutting-edge point-and-click adventures are still doing the same schtick. By that standard, Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded isn't all that bad.
It feels old, though. Other than a graphics overhaul, it doesn’t appear much has been done to differentiate Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded from it’s 25-year-old ancestor. The number of locations is small. Remarkably small, actually. I kept expecting the map of the city to open up and expand once I progressed but, no, those 5 locations are it.
Also, you can die. Now, I’m sure they exist, but I cannot recall another adventure game where a path leads you to death. Sure, the only thing dying gets you is a overly long cutscene and then plops you into the last scene you were in, but it struck me as odd. There are locations that just entering at the wrong time will get you killed, so it’s not like I had to try hard to get whacked.
Something else that could have really used an update is the money situation. Just like real life, you need money in this game, but, just like real life, you don’t have any. You need to gamble to get money by playing poorly implemented and uninteresting mini-games: slots or video blackjack. Both are tedious, and the only way to make money is to save-load over and over until you are fiscally independent. I can’t emphasize how obnoxious this part of the game is: constantly saving then loading after failure. The interface isn’t good either, forcing you to click an up-arrow to maximize your bid after every load. To top it off, at one point you will be robbed of all your cash, forcing you to do it all over again. Oops, spoilers!
It’s not just the gameplay that feels old. The humor in the game, which is the reason 98% of you would play it, is dated and mostly unfunny. Reloaded is nothing but a long string of double entendres and puns which I probably would have found hilarious back in 1987. Now, however, they seem forced and not quite as shocking as the smarmy narrator would want us to think they are. Sure, every now and then something is said that forces a smile, but mostly it’s pitiably unfunny stuff like a casino named “Caesar’s Phallus” or the nightclub called “Club 69”. There’s more groan-worthy stuff where that came from. I haven’t even mentioned the over-the-top portrayal of women as huge-breasted, slim-hipped Barbies, but, in a game where the goal is to get the titular character (who is a 40-ish virgin) laid, were you expecting any much more enlightened?
The effort that's gone into modernizing Reloaded's interface for tablets seems modest. Holding down a location will bring up a radial menu that has all of Larry’s possible actions laid out for you. The problem with this control technique is that the “long hold” doesn’t always seem to register. So, when you want Larry to walk to something and you hold down on it, hoping for the radial menu, instead the default action fires off. I was constantly examining things I wanted to interact with or walk to because the radial menu failed to pop up. After many tries, it would finally work, but it was annoying nonetheless. After a while I gave up on the radial menu, and just selected actions from a drop-down menu at the top of the screen. Not as elegant, but more reliable. Other aspects of the interface are equally irksome. It's very easy to accidentally skip dialog in the game, and when I became stuck on a puzzle, I was sure part of it was due to missing clues given to me by the narrator when I tried examining objects or entered a new location.
Speaking of the narrator, I hated him. His faux British accent and over-the-top greasiness really made him unlikable and I found myself turning on captions and turning down the volume. The other voice work was good, if not exceptional. Graphics were, likewise, up to current standards, except the strange close ups of the women that Larry is trying to bed. Those screens just seemed over-the-top and out of place with the rest of Reloaded’s graphics.
In the end, what you have is a decent adventure game with a sense of humor that is nearly bad enough to be a detriment. If you can handle a game that talks about such “shocking” things like vibrators, condoms, and STDs, but only does so through terrible puns and euphemisms, then you might enjoy a couple hours trying to get Larry’s wick dipped. For my part, I found the gameplay outweighed its faults and I mostly enjoyed my time in Lost Wages (I told you the puns were bad).
The game was played on an iPad 2nd-generation for this review.