What LucasArts tried to do with Grim Fandango was expand on the company's extensive collection of graphic adventure games by taking it to the next dimension, 3D. In the past, their games have been simple mouse based point-and-click entries with hand drawn backgrounds and 2D characters. This new direction the genre has taken proves to work out very well with Grim Fandango, easily one of LucasArts best productions.
The 3D rendering and characters really shine as each place you visit is beautifully presented and the artwork is magnificent. The environments are captured in such a way that you really begin to feel like you're in Manny's shoes. You'll travel from your office at the Department of the Dead to beautiful forests and city scenes. Reminiscent of titles such as Alone in the Dark or Resident Evil, each scene has a preset camera angle in which to move your character. Unlike LucasArts' games in the past which featured 2D sprite based characters, Grim Fandango features fully animated 3D polygonal characters. Each one, whether a skeleton or a huge, demon-like monster, has a cartoonish look which works incredibly well.
The highpoints of the game, though, focus on the incredible storyline, puzzles and dialog. The plot will immerse you for days and is thoroughly enjoyable and interesting from beginning to end. This is due in part to the fabulous script and dialog heard and witnessed in the game. Each character has his or her own mannerisms that are amplified by superb voice acting. The voices fit their characters quite nicely which is an essential ingredient in this type of game. Puzzle solving elements are seamlessly integrated into the story and the purpose of each makes sense in the overall context of the game. Made up of logic puzzles or simple use-this-item-here types, you never seem to be doing anything out of the ordinary or illogical.
Also a departure, the game is played from the keyboard rather than with the mouse. Using the arrow keys, you move Manny around the rendered scenes in which he can look, run or pick up items. Instead of an interface driven by hotspots, your character's head moves in a looking fashion when you're near an item to be used or obtained. This is a really nice feature that works great. Unfortunately, it is also in the interface where Grim Fandango has most of its technical glitches. For instance, Manny gets turned around sometimes while running or walking around. At times, it looks like you can go certain places but you really can't. Another problem is that the elevators never seem to work right. Half the time, you cannot just walk in the elevator as it makes you push the action button to do so. After doing this, he may start walking back and forth in place, instead of entering the elevator. Instead of being presented with a box or a full-screen bag of your inventory, you can only see one item at a time. The inventory is located in Manny's jacket and he can only pull items out one at a time.
Apart from these few trifles, Grim Fandango is an extraordinary adventure game. With its great story, beautiful artwork and fabulous voice acting, you'll be missing out by not giving this game a whirl.
Graphics: The artwork and 3D rendering is absolutely gorgeous. Each character looks different and has an overall cartoonish look that works well.
Sound: Because of a nice, laid back jazzy soundtrack and fabulous voice acting, the sound is superb.
Enjoyment: With its immersive storyline, great cast of characters and one of the best plots and scripts you'll ever see in a graphic adventure, Grim Fandango is a blast to play.
Replay Value: Like all graphic adventure games, once it's over, it's over. Upon completion, there really isn't a reason to play through it again.
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