Leisure Suit Larry: Magne Cum Laude
Boobies! Oh, wait, we're supposed to be reviewing a game here. At least I think we are, but it appears that Larry's beauty may only be skin (flick) deep...
PS2, Xbox, PC
High Voltage Software
"Ooooooooh, love the Lovage baby" as Donna Summer might have sung, had she played this latest entry in the Leisure Suit Larry series. Lovage is continuing the same quest his uncle pursued in the first seven Leisure Suit Larry adventure games, to get laid, but in a format re-imagined for consoles. That's Lovage, as in Larry Lovage, nephew of the original lounge lizard Larry Laffer. And that's a lot of L's. Here are some more 'L' words which accurately describe this game: lame, limp, limited, lazy, lampooning, lewd, lacklustre, loading...
Now, the Leisure Suit Larry series may never have been in the same league as adventure game greats such as Sam & Max, Monkey Island et al, but they had their moments. The original Larry adventure was the first stab at an 'adult' game, whatever that might mean, and whilst not being the best example of the genre, was a worthwhile alternative. It is also fair to say that this new installment has its moments too. The basic structure and humour in the game is very much in keeping with classic films such as Animal House and Porky's, indeed occasionally paying homage to them. Unfortunately though, the moments that turn out to be actually funny are also only occasional.
The main problem with Larry is that there isn't any real meat to the experience of playing, the bulk of the game simply involves walking round to seek out your next potential conquest. What then ensues is a series of mini-games with the goal of bedding your quarry. These mini-games are nowhere near varied enough, neither are they particularly difficult, and as such it doesn't take long for the repetition to set in. The only real challenge appears to be when the controls become unresponsive, mostly during the dancing and trampoline games, which will leave you waggling your joypad in frustration.
Considering this game is predominantly focused on the female form, it's not particularly nice to look at either. Character models are not exactly detailed, more akin to those from the previous generation of consoles. Environments are also drab and covered in simple textures. However there is some nice design amongst the main characters; ranging from Larry's inexplicably large head, through to the Porn Fairy who comes across as (or how about just 'looks like') the illegitimate love child of Ron Jeremy and Tinkerbell. The girls themselves are all based on American High School archetypes - the geeky band girl, the ditzy cheerleader, the campus bike - and couple with the audio they become very distinct individuals.
Indeed, the biggest saving grace to this game is the audio. Whoever was in charge of audio design deserves a pay rise. The licensed music choices in this game are truly inspired, with tracks from 2 Live Crew, Right Said Fred and the Benny Hill chase music. They perfectly capture the essence of what the game is about and their placement and presentation is very well considered. The voiceover casting is also spot on; sure all of the characters are cartoon cutout clichés, but they sound exactly as you would expect them to. On an interesting side note, the voice of Larry Lovage is also the one and only 343 Guilty Spark from the Halo games - that fact alone caused a few giggles.
The problems with Larry are compounded by its technical ineptness. Obviously it isn't fair to expect every release to serve up GTA sized environments with zero loading times, not every developer can employ genius programmers. Yet, considering the sizes of each area in Larry are comparatively tiny, that the game requires loading between every location, mini-game and cut-scene is frankly shoddy. They aren't short loading times either, anywhere between 10 and 90 seconds; even more shocking is that the Xbox version is just as poor as the PS2 version in this respect. Sure, an effort has been made to take your mind off the loading, as random pictures of the girls pop up to keep you distracted. These screens often include pictures of real life models that bear a miniscule resemblance to their digital counterparts, and are particularly jarring.
It's hard to see just who this game is aimed at, considering it has an 18 rating. Those whom can legally purchase it will find little to amuse or entertain. It may be doing a disservice to them but it seems only pubescent boys will get anything out of this, but they are too young to buy it. Sure it isn't entirely without merit, but what little there is does not deserve your time or money.