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Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! (DOS)

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3.9
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Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (171551)
Written on  :  Jan 21, 2004
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars

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Summary

He is back! Watch out, women named after wines!..

The Good

Despite its appealing looks, Larry 5 was one of the weakest adventure games Sierra has ever produced. The glory of the franchise seemed to have become a thing of the past. But the developers did their homework, learned from their mistakes, pulled themselves together, and eventually delivered a triumphant game seriously contending for the title of the best in the series.

Larry 6 is everything its predecessor was not: it is large, difficult, very funny, and rich in interaction and exploration. Discarding any unnecessary changes and experiments, the game goes back to the convenient formula introduced by the very first outing: you are given a selection of accessible areas you can visit in any order and try to woo the attractive young women populating them. Just like in the initial episode, all the puzzles form an interconnected system, where you'll need to please several female characters until you get the crucial items required for the "boss girl" and the grand finale.

Yes, Larry 6 is unoriginal, but it is often so that originality comes at the expense of quality, and - on the contrary - following a trodden path may eventually bring you to perfection. Whatever Larry 6 does, it does better than any of its predecessors. First of all, it is a big game. Its only location, a resort hotel with a spa, may come across as a disappointment after the urban exploration of the earlier games - that is, until you actually begin exploring, at which point you start noticing that the game's world is bigger than in any of its predecessors. There are various facilities, rooms, beach, outside area - and all those places are packed with items, people, and interesting things to do.

You are able to visit any area of the game world right from the beginning, which makes Larry 6 the most open-ended installment of the series. The upsides of this structure are obvious: not only you are virtually unrestricted in the satisfaction of your curiosity - you are also free to tackle the puzzles at any pace you want. If you feel you are stuck on one task, try exploring more and you're guaranteed to find something to work on. Most objectives can also be solved out of a particular order, which means that the game allows you to play it the way you want to, without forcing particular sequences down your throat and only interfering for humorous cutscenes that occur once you've successfully seduced a girl.

The puzzles have received a tremendous boost. Larry 6 has by far the best puzzles in the series so far, boasting a nigh immaculate system with convoluted, intricate tasks woven together in a clever and yet appropriately twisted, comedic way. There are even some puzzles that can be solved through different methods. Sierra decided to get rid of dead ends, and the death scenes in the game are purely for humorous purposes. They have wisely understood that the days of death-ridden, simple adventures were gone, and, after the hiccup that the preceding game was, devised a puzzle tree worthy of a competition with the best oeuvres produced by their rivals.

At the same time, Sierra kept and enhanced what always gave their games a certain edge over LucasArts' creations - interactivity and text descriptions. Larry 6 is beautifully responsive and heavy on interaction. Even the most mundane, generic actions elicit unique responses. Trying out illogical, ridiculous actions has always been one of the greatest pleasures in those games for me, and Larry 6 shines as one of the very best examples of this. There is more text than ever, longer and more elaborate descriptions, and much longer dialogues that make the game livelier, "tastier", and more energetic than the earlier entries. The humor is also back with vengeance, and the writing is generally among the finest I've seen in a comedy adventure.

As always, this Larry installment is a pleasure for the senses. The high-resolution CD version is the definitive edition of the game, with its enhanced soundtrack and crisp graphics far surpassing the somewhat blurry images of the floppy release. This version also adds, for the first time in the series, full voice-overs, which are excellent. The omnipresent narrator steals the show with his sarcastic wit.

The Bad

Larry 6 is quite unoriginal. It takes what made the series tick and doesn't attempt to breach the boundaries. What the game offers is good traditional adventure gameplay and comedy; it doesn't try to do anything beyond that. There are no political conspiracies this time, no love affairs, no KGB, no FBI, no tragic situations in which the hero should either lose his virginity or die. Just walking around in a spa, gazing at women in bikinis and scratching your head while trying to figure out how to charm them.

The designers made a conscious choice of opening the playground to you right away. The downside of this is a certain lack of dynamism. The game is very laid-back and there are no real surprises: you know you won't leave the area and there will be no new place to visit until the game ends. This also affects the plot, which is nearly non-existent: "please several women in humorously inventive ways" pretty much sums it all up. Also, I know that most people were happy that Patti was gone, but throwing her out of the series without a single hint of an explanation created an unpleasant feeling that all your previous adventures were meaningless.

The Bottom Line

Larry 6 is a splendid recovery from the preceding game's effort to knock the disco lover's crown off his balding head. Dropping all pretenses, it returns to shape by sticking to what works, clearing the field for humor, hormones, and - above all - excellent gameplay.