|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Telltale Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Telltale Games/GameTap||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 13, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Telltale Games continues to further cement its hold on the adventure gaming masses with every new episode of the Sam & Max series it cranks out. The second season of the anthropomorphic freelance police duo's episodic cases is slowly drawing to a close, but it's been a good run so far. If the uproarious antics in Sam & Max Episode 204: Chariots of the Dogs are any indication, we can expect the season finale to be a major comedic blowout of grand proportion. No doubt a third season will be in the works, but until then each subsequent episode in season two is turning out even stranger, funnier, and more intriguing than the last. When it comes to laughs, Chariots of the Dogs is worth its weight in gold.
In the prior episode, Bosco's locked store and unexplained disappearance initially took a backseat to dealing with a zombie invasion led by a soul-sucking emo-vampire. Players were left with a cliffhanger as Sam and Max's seasoned detective neighbor Flint Paper informed them Bosco was not only missing: he had vanished off the face of the planet entirely. Taking up the search for Bosco in Chariots of the Dogs, Sam and Max high tail it through space and time in search of their paranoid pal. As it turns out, Bosco has fallen into the clutches of "T-H-E-M" (those who've religiously followed the series since the start of season one will recall Bosco's deep-rooted paranoia about "T-H-E-M"). It's not long before the duo finds their lost friend - on board a space ship, of course - in a bit of a predicament due to some anomalies in the time-space continuum. Setting things back to normal and wrestling control of the ship from "T-H-E-M" is no simple task, but it's equal parts fun and funny.
Ditching the Desoto for an episode, this time Sam and Max get from one location to the next in style via a sweet time-traveling elevator. Players will be using a borrowed device to scan various characters in order to generate punch cards for use in the elevator. Each character scan spits out a unique signature that can be swiped in the elevator to transport Sam and Max to a location in the past, present or future. A few familiar locations and characters are recycled here, but it's all done in a neat way that makes them feel new.
I've got to hand it to Telltale; for a game that changes very little from episode-to-episode in terms of graphics and controls, they always manage to keep things feeling pretty fresh. Sci-Fi movie buffs should greatly appreciate the rampant movie related gags and references liberally sprinkled throughout the game. This was a funny addition with the zombie hordes and undead jokes in Episode 203, so it's no surprise it was worked into Chariots of the Dogs. You'll find supercomputers with attitude (2001: A Space Odyssey), memory-erasing flashes (Men In Black), frequent nods to Star Trek, and a miniature alien-related volcano model (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), among others.