Replay Value: 8.2
Lucas Arts has already struck gold with the PS2. First experiencing huge success with Star Wars: Starfighter this past February, and then moderate success with their kart-based Star Wars title, Super Bombad Racing, Lucas Arts has now released their third Playstation 2 game. Escape from Monkey Island, the fourth in the Monkey Island series, has now been ported over to the PS2, from the PC. Originally a point and click title, Escape from Monkey Island is a hilarious and witty title that is sure to amuse every adventure gamer out there. More of a puzzle adventure game, rather than a platformer such as Mario or Ape Escape, Escape from Monkey Island is still a unique title (for PS2 gamers anyway), keep reading below for the full review.
Monkey Island is certainly a beautiful looking game. While its character detail is lacking, where in areas the PS2 should be doing wonders, its obvious that the main visual focus of Monkey Island is its outstanding background detail. One look says a lot. Monkey Island's environments are composed of many textures, most noticeably in the first half buildings, or various other house-like structures. Every building you come across looks absolutely gorgeous, be it the SCUMM bar in Melee Island, or the House of Sticks in Lucre Island, every last structure looks absolutely gorgeous. Lucas Arts has done a spectacular job in creating bold environments, that are filled with breath taking colors, and backdrops such as clouds look like something from a fairy tale. With the environments as gorgeous as they are, Lucas Arts didn't do much for the character detail, while the look hasn't been worsened for the PS2 version, it wasn't improved either. The characters stand out as looking somewhat rough, bit out of proportion, almost generic if you ask me. But they don't look bad though, from time to time, when the camera is close enough, you'll notice some facial expressions among other things. The detail isn't horrible, just not what we're used to seeing on the PS2. Overall, first-generation character detail, second-generation backgrounds.
If my memory serves, the last Monkey Island left off with Guybrush Threepwood and the Governor of Melee Island, Elaine Marley, getting married. [Slight spoiler] This Monkey Island picks up with Guybrush's crew being under attack by a gang of pirates. The enemy pirates are being fought off by Guybrush's wife and fellow pirates, meanwhile Guybrush is tied to up to a large wooden pole. So he spends his time remembering his honeymoon, and what not. Eventually he snaps out of it, as his wife brings him back to reality. This is where the game begins and you pick up the controller. You will then have to work Guybrush around the pole, make him pick up a piece of coal and throw it at a canon that is facing the enemy ship. Now make note that no real skill is involved in the process, because throughout the whole game you select the action that you want Guybrush to do. Just as the coal scene was described above, you will have to move Guybrush around the pole using the analog stick, selections will then appear, use R1 or R2 to scroll and select the action. Guybrush will then automatically do as you say, it's very basic.
Monkey Island plays incredibly well. But be warned, a strategy guide or FAQ of some sort is a MUST if you want to actually enjoy the game. Monkey Island is a puzzle game and may confuse many people, this is why I suggest a guide with the game. [Spoiler alert again] The actual plot of Escape from Monkey Island is quite varied, as you and your wife (the Governor) have been declared dead, due to your long missing presence. When you return you find that a new gubernatorial election is being held, and there's only one candidate. So in order to win back you position in charge of Melee Island, Elaine orders Guybrush to visit Lucre Island by sailing there, and talking to the Marley family lawyers (Elaine's family lawyers). Upon reaching Lucre Island and talking to the lawyers, Guybrush soon finds himself in the middle a framed robbery situation, where somebody, disguised as Guybrush, robs a bank while locking away the actual Guybrush in the bank's vault, where Guybrush was sent to recover a few items. So now Guybrush is sentenced to house arrest, and cannot leave the premises of Lucre Island, until proving his innocence. So a portion of the game will then be spent in Lucre Island as you try to find the notorious thief who did this to you. But of course venturing off to Monkey Island will be the game's primary focus as the title suggests, and let me tell you folks it sure will be fun! While far more story-driven and less jump, hop and punch such as Mario titles, Monkey Island is an excellent adventure title that has just a few faults, not really worth mentioning.
This is what makes Monkey Island as amazing as it is, the voice acting is bar-none some of the best you'll ever hear. The voices and their parts are perfect matches beyond a doubt in my mind. The comical dialogue is easily the best I can remember, the voice of Guybrush Threepwood is absolutely hilarious, kudos to the voice actor as he provides the best comical relief throughout the whole game. I must applaud Lucas Arts' cast of voice actors, as they do malevolent jobs of making their characters seem almost life-like. Voices rarely lag in response, although some loading is involved, it hardly affects or creates any hesitation between the responses. Monkey Island was fit on a DVD-ROM, that is primarily because every single character, and I mean 'every', has his or her own individual voice. To every character you talk to, it will be voice acted, so there is absolutely no 'read-only' dialogue involved. You can read what is being said, but you don't have to. The sound volume of the characters mysteriously lowers at times, almost slightly fades out and then comes back, it happens from time to time, and is pretty much the only flaw holding the game back from a perfect score of ten in the sound field. And as for the music, Monkey Island has lively tunes, that are very Caribbean like and bring forth a sense of relaxation.
Eliminating the point and click movement, gamers will now have to use the Dual Shock 2 to move their way around all of the islands. The button interface is very simple, if you are in the process of selecting an action, you will have to use R1 or R2 to scroll. Once you have set your mind use either, Triangle, X, Square or Circle to do something with that selection. The Square button will command Guybrush to 'pick-up' an object, although he won't if it's not supposed to be, or just plain ridiculously large. The Triangle button is the 'use' button, but if there is nothing to be used it will act as the talk button. X is the selector button it will select the exact action that is highlighted. And lastly Circle is the 'look' button. All of the face buttons have their individual functions. Very good control, that should take 5-10 minutes to get used to.
To end the review with a pun, and yet a terrible one, Escape from Monkey Island is bananas load of fun. There I said it! Despite it being nothing like an adventure game that we've all become so accustomed to, Monkey Island is an excellent puzzle-solving adventure title that most fans of the genre must pick up. The game got personality and that's what makes up most of its final score. The voice acting is absolutely, positively first-class. It has been incredibly long time since a game featured sound caliber as magnificent as Escape from Monkey Island. Wonderful visuals, amusing gameplay and sound that will sweep you away, Escape from Monkey Island deserves its fun in the sun...oh and the monkeys are really funny!