Hector: Badge Of Carnage Episode 2 Review (PC)

Game Review: Hector: Badge Of Carnage Episode 2 – Senseless Acts of Justice
Release: 8/25/2011
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Straandlooper, Telltale Games
Available Platforms: PC, Mac, iPad
Players: 1
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: N/A (Recommended for 17+)

Detective Inspector Hector is back in his newest episode from Straandlooper and Telltale Games, and picks up right where Episode 1 left off.  In fact, the game as a whole is nearly identical to the first, which is to be expected.  As such, let me pull out my gameplay comments from that first review before getting into what’s new here:

Hector: Badge Of Carnage is a game that never apologizes for what it is.  Putting you in the shoes (and that’s about it) of the pot-bellied anti-hero Detective Inspector Hector, you are taken through a lewd, brash, and vulgar ride as you work to fulfil the demands of a killer who is holding hostages.  I couldn’t help but get a sense of nostalgia for games like Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest, and other classic adventure games that featured a bumbling hero combining odd objects to accomplish bizarre goals.  The game features a lot of strong language and material, so this isn’t one for the kids, but it does manage to cram in quite a few zingers and chuckles in the 2+ hour episode.

The game itself is a standard point-and-click adventure game that has the story told through in-game interaction as well as the occasional cut-scene.  There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking in the gameplay; click once to look at what your cursor is pointing at (and by look, I mean get a generally derogatory comment from your character describing the item), and double click to interact with the item.  You can also look at and sometimes combine items in your inventory as well through clicking.  The fact that the cursor highlights on clickable items on the screen essentially turns the game into a hunt-and-peck click-fest to figure out what needs to be done, since often times the solution is as ridiculous as the situations that are presented.  Logic will prevail once you acquire items, but it’s not immediately obvious exactly what you need to solve the puzzles.

There’s a good deal of humor to be found in this game, and it’s layered in nicely (with in your face jokes, slapstick humor, subtle undertones, and pop-culture references).  The protagonist is often belligerent, weary and downright bored, but never becomes standoffish; you’ll be interested in the story from the get-go, and will want to see how it plays out.  The cut scenes are great, with a lot going on that makes watching them a couple times worthwhile to see all the little visual jokes going on in the background.  The voice-acting is decent (and I swear the voice of the gunman is the demon-door voice from Fable), and there is a walkthrough for the game included in-game should you get stuck.  The afore-mentioned pop-culture references are also well done, and a few brought out genuine laughter.

So what about Episode 2? The locales you visit are mostly new, and there are a slew of new characters to interact with as well.  This second episode also takes care of a few of the complaints I had for the first game.  For one, the glitchy interface and graphical bugs have been addressed; I only experienced one game crash when I was mashing the mouse button all over the place.  The humor is also much improved; I won’t call it more mature, but the writing quality has stepped up a few notches from the overly crude humor of the first.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of crude humor in this episode, but what’s there is well done, and often more tongue-in-cheek than a serious attempt at humor.

I also got the feeling that this game was a little more straightforward than the previous game. I often had no problem knowing where I was supposed to go next, or how items interacted with each other.  The in-game help system is still there, and once again the basic version is mostly useless, and the detailed version spells everything out for you (though it’s worth mentioning that the detailed hints should be read through once you’re done, because there’s as much humor in the hints as there is in the game).  There is also a portion of the episode where you will be working on the case as both Lambert and Hector, which was a nice change of pace.  Lambert’s ineptitude is a nice juxtaposition to Hector’s has-an-answer-for-everything attitude.

Dialog is still the drag of this series.  The conversations are long and, while parts are funny, you’ll likely find yourself clicking through the dialog trees to get the information you need to unlock new areas.  I’d have rather seen something like more puzzles to help break things up a bit.  There also didn’t seem to be as many interactive items in the world; which is both good and bad, since it means less clicking at the expense of less content.  The episode length has not improved,coming in at just over 2 hours to complete.  At $10, you’ll have to decide if that’s a good content-to-cost ratio.

vttym’s take: Senseless Acts Of Justice does everything it should do: it improves on the first game (better humor, less bugs, new gameplay elements), expands the story, and utilizes characters from the first episode.  Hector is still a great character to play as, and the addition of Lambert in a more prominent role helps as well.  The game suffers from being too short, and while the dialog is funny, it’s also long winded. The game is fun to play through once, I’m just hoping that the third and final episode introduces a few more elements and puzzles to the series, or goes back to the creative solutions used in the first episode.

+ Humor is significantly improved over an already funny first episode

+Expansion of Lambert’s character

– Dialog

– Felt simpler to play compared to the first episode

Final Score: 6/10

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