Sam & Max, Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die
After a brief introduction featuring a prank phone call followed by an urgent summoning to the White House, Sam & Max Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die opens as the familiar duo begin their investigations.
Sam announces: "Well here we are standing in an open field west of the white house".
If that isn't enough to bring a smile to the face of all Zork fans, you soon note that "there is a small mailbox here". Actually, the small mailbox is hard to miss and you'll be relieved to know that our crime-fighting duo didn't miss it either. Perhaps Sam should have let Max drive.
The front door to the White House isn't boarded, but it is guarded by a dedicated secret service 'spook' who won't let anyone in. And Sam & Max need to get in because the President of the United States of America, no less, has gone mad. Sam observes: "The man's gone nuts! He's enacting all kinds of crazy new laws! He's curtailing civil liberties! Threatening the environment!" But it's the new law on hand gun control that really gets Max's blood boiling.
One thing I really enjoy about this series is how each episode touches on topical issues, and how each one is more extreme than the last. Each case leads higher up the chain from hypnotised former child stars in Culture Shock, to television hosts in Situation: Comedy, to the mob in The Mole, the Mob and the Meatball, and now all the way to the White House. Wonder where to next?
If you've been following the series you'll also have noted that inflation is rampant. Bosco's first "half-baked over-priced gadget" in episode one could be purchased for just ten thousand dollars jumping to 10 million dollars by episode three, now he's demanding a hundred million for his latest invention. Sam & Max would need the resources of a government to raise that amount!
Refreshingly, this episode begins in the new location of the White House lawn but pretty soon you will be back in the familiar neighbourhood of your office and no doubt you will be eager to see what Sybil and Bosco (sorry, Boscovorski) are up to now. Comrade Boskovorski assures us that he is no threat to the American Government whatsoever, while Sybil is desperate for a date. These characters, as always, are pivotal to the action but where does Abe Lincoln fit in? Without giving too much away the plot involves a presidential election campaign that could be closer than the one in 2000, so it's time to bring out all the dirty tricks.
In Abe Lincoln Must Die, Sam & Max turn their unique perspective on the state of US politics with hilarious results. Would you really allow Max access to weapons of mass destruction? After the disappointingly short third episode this case gets the series back on track. The puzzles are meatier giving players more to think about and more to do. The playing time is back up to three or so hours, depending on your familiarity with the previous games. More importantly, the humour, dialogue and characters are as strong as ever.
Sam & Max: Abe Lincoln Must Die is another clever offering in this wacky off-beat series. I'm looking forward to seeing how far Telltale Games can push the absurd plotlines by the time the season ends with episode six.
Sam & Max, Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die is available for download exclusively through GameTap for North American residents from 22 February 2007. From 8 March 2007 it will be available worldwide through Telltale Games.
Copyright © Gordon Aplin 2007.
All rights reserved.
Windows XP, 800MHz processor (if using a video card with hardware T & L), 1.5GHz (if using a video card without hardware T & L), 256 MB RAM (512 MB recommended), 32MB 3D-accelerated video card, 240MB available hard drive space.