Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge (Review, Xbox 360)

For easy comparison with the original version’s score see the end of each section…

[OGS] = Original Game Score

Gameplay: 2½/5 – I found that many of the “improvements” made to the Xbox version’s interface were actually more detrimental to the gaming experience. Notably the game has fewer areas where the screen scrolls than the last game which makes the addition of analogue-controlled walking rather unnecessary. In addition the paths in MI2 are somehow more narrow meaning you can get stuck more easily in places. In all I finally found myself switching back to the point-and-click walking as I was also constantly forgetting that I was supposed to use the right analogue stick to move the cursor.

Moreover I was rather disappointed in the fact there is no action-menu in the Special Edition version and that means some of the fantastic Guybrush lines (such as the one you get for trying to open the spyglass) can only be heard when playing with classic-graphics with the voice-over switched on. In addition the cursor movement feels very over-sensitive which makes picking up small objects (such as Wally’s monocle really hard). However the last and most crucial flaw in the interface in my view was how the game renders some puzzles unsolvable in classic mode (namely the spitting contest) as there seems to be some odd fluctuations in the game’s timing (in addition that you can’t move the cursor fast enough if you try to be careful). [OGS: 5/5]

  • Graphics: 4½/5 – The graphic overhaul of this game has been done with the same precision as the previous one and on the over-all the game looks really nice. However, I found Fink to look particularly awful which is why I’m hacking off half a point. [OGS = 5/5]
  • Animation: 4/5 – There were some rather noticeable and irritating bugs in the Special mode, namely LeChuck’s walk cycle which seems to be constantly running too fast and the bugging out of the Rapp Scallion sequence. Considering it’s one of my favorite parts in the game this was really upsetting. The rest of the animation work has been done well though I’m really unhappy they removed the introduction sequence. [OGS = 5/5]
  • Music: 5/5 – Here I have to say the MI2 special edition succeeded better than SMI’s special edition. The instrumentation is far more dynamic and the sound is recreated faithfully and with style. Even the very low-key music on Dinky sounds much better in the special edition. Though I hate that they cut the original intro sequence from the game I was happy that they at least recreated MI2’s rendition of the theme tune for the game’s menu screen. [OGS = 4/5]
  • Sound: 4/5 – As with most LucasArts games the voice-actors have done their job well with all of the characters sounding appropriate. However, the special edition has done surprisingly little for the sound-effects of the original version and I was rather surprised that they couldn’t match the bone-song lyrics much better with the music. Some definite room for improvement was left here. [OGS = 2/5]
  • Plot: 2½/5 – Monkey Island 2 has always been a love-it-or-hate-it experience. It offers a great deal of challenge and some well conceived puzzles but also throws a few unfair ones in the player’s face. The ending of course is notorious and may leave you wondering what the heck happened…

Score: 75% – Whereas The Secret of Monkey Island’s Special Edition definitely added new life to an already classic adventure game, I’m rather surprised that MI2’s Special Edition couldn’t do the same.  In fact if anything it made me think the old version was much better on the whole. While there are few people, even amongst MI fans, who are going to miss the removal of the Lite mode it’s notable how the new additions to the game don’t really serve to enhance the over-all experience. [OGS = 78%]

Final notes: The special edition is not a complete waste. In fact I find playing the game with the classic graphics and the voice-over to be much more enjoyable than with new graphics. The point-and-click interface at least feels much less laborious to use than in the last game and the writers’ commentary at least adds some replay value to the game.