October 26, 2004 > Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude
Platforms: Xbox, PC, Playstation 2
by Jeremy Inman
The new Leisure Suit Larry isn't so much a game as it is an interactive movie. Playing Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is like walking on to the set of American Pie or a National Lampoon movie. As Larry Loveage, the pathetic but loveable college-aged kid, players are free to explore a relatively expansive college campus environment - complete with the stereotypical flatulence, drinking, and sex jokes that with every teenage sex romp.
When a new television dating show called Swingles comes to Larry's community college campus, he sees it as an opportunity to prove to everyone how much of a ladies man he really is. In order to do this, Larry must scour the campus and surrounding districts in search of willing members of the opposite sex. When players successfully "woo" these lovely (and always stereotypical) ladies into submission, he receives, among other things, a token of their affection. These can then be used to prove to Swingles host Uma that Larry is fit for the show. Unfortunately, as players soon find out, it isn't easy being Larry Loveage. He's a lonely, loveless little man with a questionable fashion sense and a body like an eggplant. Larry is about half as tall as the other characters with two times the head. His exaggerated appearance is a means of adding detail to his expressions as well as a way to insure that players don't take his sexual exploits too seriously. The cartoonish appearance of Larry and his surroundings fit well within the context of the game, and serve nicely as a medium with which to dish out the particular brand of humor that LSL has to offer.
Saying that LSL isn't much of a game isn't exactly an insult and it by no means indicates that the game isn't completely worth playing. As was previously stated, LSL plays out a lot like a movie, where the "game play" elements typically involve navigating the campus or engaging in a number of repetitive context sensitive mini-games. Some of these games include quarters, where Larry must drink his opponent under the table, drink-mixing, dancing, and even spanking (don't ask). Most of these mini-games are accomplished simply by having the player complete a series of button presses while an on-screen character calls out commands. These types of activities can start to get old, especially later in the game where players have to participate in them much more frequently in order to progress. The real meat of the LSL experience is the character's dialogue. For those who aren't offended by its particular brand of humor, LSL offers up laugh after laugh through its use of brilliant written comedic dialogue. As its most innovative game play technique, LSL allows players to control the course of Larry's many conversations with the opposite sex. When Larry initiates conversation with one of the games many female characters, a box opens up at the bottom of the screen that contains three tracks. On these tracks are placed obstacles which players must navigate a smiley-faced sperm through. If players navigate Larry's swimmer through one of the green obstacles, Larry will say something that will impress the girl. Hit a red obstacle, and Larry might let loose with a belch; or his gaze may slip a little south and he'll subsequently fall further and further out of good standing with his prey. Furthermore, the more alcohol Larry has consumed (which is often essential to do), the harder it is to steer the conversation in the right direction. In effect, Larry's inebriation will cause him to blurt out something disgusting, insulting, or just downright confusing. Ah, art imitating life. The different ways each one of Larry's rendezvous' can wind up are impressive, and the outcome is almost always laugh-out-loud hilarious.
This is certainly a mature title. With frequent F-bombs, flat out blatant sexual activity, topless pixilated cheerleaders and a whole slew of other such adult-targeted humor, Larry earns its M rating well. Luckily, the cartoon look and feel of the game keep it from being anything but hilarious. It's far from innocent, but it never crosses any line that Hollywood hasn't already trampled on. While the game play elements may become a bit tiresome by the time LSL wraps up, the fresh and funny dialogue and spontaneous hilarity are enough to make Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude well worth a peek.