|System: PC, X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Telltale Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Telltale Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jun. 16, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
At this point, its all but expected Wallace and Gromit will somehow wind up clawing their way out of some new outlandish business venture in each episode of their four-part Grand Adventures series. The last two episodes found the cheese-chomping bloke and his intellectual pooch fighting off an invasion of giant, mutant bees that rebelled against Wallaces honey making plans and braving the stormy wrath of grumpy tourists visiting their DIY beach-basement resort. After a brief dip in the excitement level with The Last Resort, the silly duos latest journey switches up the pace with a renewed sense of vigor.
Episode 3: Muzzled! brings some much-needed new locations and interesting characters into the mix. With Wallace perfecting his latest entrepreneurial scheme a robotic ice cream truck that scans various items to produce bizarre flavors of the chilly treats his basement is beset by a pack of pooch refugees from the local animal shelter that we learn was destroyed in the storm from the previous episode. The unusual mishap draws the attention of a shady carnival owner who rolls into town to throw a benefit to rebuild the ruined shelter. This seemingly provides a marvelous opportunity for Wallace to test out his new ice cream making gizmo and support a noble cause, but trouble quickly begins brewing in the fairgrounds.
Like the past few episodes, Muzzled! starts out in the duos household and eases you into the story with a simple puzzle or two. As far as locations go, the house itself wore out its welcome by the conclusion of the second episode. It was a pleasant surprise to find this time around the stairway is blocked off by ice cream making supplies, the living room has been turned into a DIY milking operation (complete with cows), and the dining room is being utilized to house refrigeration tanks. Everything in their abode but the kitchen and basement is off limits, and venturing out into town reveals a sparse level of character interactions and things to do. If youve grown tired of traversing the same hotspots, youre in luck; the real meat of Episode 3 comes in the form of a large, completely new area to explore at the carnival fundraiser put on by Monty Muzzle the new guy in town.
The carnival fairgrounds provide a much appreciated visual change-of-pace from past episodes as well as ample opportunities to throw new puzzles in your path. Beyond humorous character interactions that are largely tied into the plot, youll explore numerous booths that let you tinker with fortunes, test your tic-tac-toe abilities against a chicken, and deep fry anything you can get your hands, among other activities. The beauty of the Wallace & Gromit series is it requires you to use your noggin but doesnt bludgeon you senseless with an absurd level of difficulty. Many of the puzzle challenges are intuitive, requiring you to pick up visual and audio hints littered throughout the game to determine what items you need to use at key moments. An adjustable hint system also provides intermittent clues if you become stuck. Not having to stress much over seemingly impassable puzzle elements make it easier to soak in the games charm and focus on the silliness that eventually unfolds.