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Written by  :  Unicorn Lynx (181697)
Written on  :  Oct 02, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars

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All you need is love

The Good

The third game in the humorously adult adventure series is also the last of the trilogy that was initially conceived as such: later games appeared mostly thanks to the popularity of the franchise. Larry 3 wraps up an overarching story that started with a forty-year-old bachelor trying to find the love of his life in the city of Lost Wages. It is considered by many fans the highlight of Larry Laffer's earlier escapades. While it's hard to say which of the first three games is the best, this final entry is decidedly the most polished and well-designed of the bunch.

The first installment of the series provided a handy, convenient template for (mostly) futile seduction attempts: a small, yet open collection of recognizable urban areas. The sequel opted for a more dynamic, eventful, yet linear adventure. Larry 3 mostly follows the first school of thought: from the onset, you are free to explore an island with its places of interest which include a hotel, beaches, a jungle, a gym, a law office, and more. Like in the first game, several young women are strategically placed in different areas to provide the incentive for typically adventurous item-collecting and manipulation. You wander around, sticking your nose where it doesn't belong and enjoying the familiarity with the formula. After having completed all the actions needed to seduce the "boss girl", i.e. the one female character you cannot woo without having previously charmed all the others, you feel somewhat satisfied and yet disappointed with the game's predictable flow and short length.

It is then that Larry 3 shows you its trump card: Patti. Just when you thought the game was nearing its expected end, it switches gears, putting you in control of the mysterious woman Larry has just conquered against all odds. The game's second half is smaller and much more linear than the first - and that's precisely what it needed to be. It is as if a large segment from the second game was attached to a variation of the first. The Patti section brings the much-needed dynamism and tension to the rather placid Larry-controlling gameplay. It is an excellent addition to an already very solid and competently made adventure, giving it more diversity and flavor.

Generally, the gameplay in Larry 3 is noticeably richer and more varied than in the opening entry. Some of the more convoluted puzzles of the Larry part are actually quite good and amusing. Exploring the island is a pleasant, laid-back activity. The amount of lethal situations has been greatly reduced compared to the previous game, and I don't think it is possible to get irrevocably stuck when playing as Larry. I was missing the nerve-wrecking traps and action of the second game, but then I got it all back in the Patti section. Thus, the third game offers the best of both in a generous gesture.

In terms of comedy, this installment may lack the social satire and the black humor of the predecessor, but makes up for it with its depiction of the island's life, with its cheap tourist attractions and greedy women crossing Larry's path. The game goes back to laughing at Larry and presenting his comically unsuccessful amorous encounters, which has always been the focus of the series' humor. Personally, I preferred the more varied laughs of the second game, but that's a matter of taste. Anyway, some of the situations Larry finds himself in are really funny. There is an entire comedy show you can sit through for a good chunk of points, its jokes featuring ethnicities actually selected by the player - lack of political correctness at its best! Also, the part where you meet the game's creator involves one of the best meta-jokes I've seen in a game.

Those who disliked the lack of love in the aptly titled second installment will rejoice at the fact that the third game is the raunchiest Larry episode so far. Not only there are more full-screened women than ever before - Larry actually goes much farther with them, with only comical accidents interrupting full-fledged coitus. Paradoxically, with this amount of meaningless sex, Larry 3 also manages to be the warmest and most soulful game of the entire series - the romance with Patti goes beyond carnal pleasures and culminates in what at least the heroes perceive as true love at the moment. This makes this installment much more emotionally intense and fulfilling than the previous adventures.

The graphics are roughly at the same level as in the second game, but the music has gotten a significant boost. This was the first Larry adventure with a memorable soundtrack - though in a way quite different from the tasty, jazzy tunes of its successors. The opening melancholic theme is surprisingly beautiful, giving an unexpected tinge of sadness to what is supposed to be a cheerfully nonsensical comedy, and making us see the beginning that involves a sudden divorce and loss of a job in a different, more serious light.

The Bad

Larry 3 tries to avoid dead ends and other unpleasant situations as much as it can; as a result, the game turned out to be a tiny bit too easy. There are a few fairly tricky puzzles, but also entire tasks that consist of walking from one place to another and asking simple questions. For example, the actions needed to seduce Cherri are so elementary that the result doesn't feel rewarding enough. In general, the few young women you almost get lucky with are somewhat underwhelming, lacking the spark that made the female characters of the first game less forgettable.

There is too much copy protection. I like the clever solution to the bamboo maze (it is well-hidden in the manual), but I don't quite see the necessity of having to resort to the supplied written materials for a mere input of a few numbers. In particular, the locker-finding and the combination needed to open it were rather superfluous.

The Bottom Line

Larry 3 is a powerful finale of the series' first trilogy. It takes what was best in its predecessors, expanding gameplay, correcting annoyances, and crowning itself with an ironically told, yet emotionally charged love story. The then-concluding chapter in a tale about a loser trying to get laid surprisingly reveals itself as one of the best adventure games of its time.