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Review: Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust

Logan Westbrook | 6 Aug 2009 21:00
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I'm going to level with you, Box Office Bust is a very bad game. Thankfully, I only rented it, because if I'd paid full price for it, I'd feel enormously cheated. Hell, if it had been given to me for free, I'd still feel like I'd gotten a pretty raw deal.

Box Office Bust is a sequel to 2004's Magna Cum Laude, with the same uninspiring mix of platforming and mini-games that had accosted us five years ago. Once again, you are cast as Larry Loveage, life-long loser and nephew of the series' original protagonist. In this latest installment, Uncle Larry has achieved a modicum of success and now runs Laffer Studios, where he makes movies that would be lucky to be considered 'B' grade.

Uncle Larry ropes Larry the younger into uncovering a mole currently employed at his studio. While attempting his detective pipe dreams, Larry also has the chance to score with some hot chicks - although these hot chicks are so grotesquely designed that it's a rather unappealing idea. At its very best, the game is plain boring and at its worse, it's downright appalling - and not in some hyperbolic, literary sense. I was literally appalled by it.

The core gameplay is so inexpertly handled it's difficult to believe that it was actually created by professionals. The game uses the Unreal engine, and either it's not a great fit for open world platforming or Team 17 didn't know what they're doing, as the relatively empty lot still suffers from a very choppy frame rate. You'll spend a lot of time performing fetch quests for the various characters inhabiting the lot, with an occasional quick time event or puzzle to break up the tedium, albeit with a different flavor of tedium.

Every now and then you'll leave the studio lot and enter a "dreamscape," which is apparently code for "an assortment of clumsily lampooned movie references." The dreamscapes add a little variety to an otherwise trite gaming experience, and are where you'll find most of the mini-games. However, shooting enemies from the back of a moving vehicle was an old idea ten years ago, and it doesn't get any fresher here.

Larry's movements are also dated, especially when comparing them to other recently released games. While games like Assassin's Creed and Prototype are experimenting with parkour and free-running, Box Office Bust is just coming to terms with the double jump. The lackluster gameplay isn't helped by a counter-intuitive camera system, either. When you're outside, you can move the camera freely, except for when you can't; when you're inside, the camera is fixed in place, except when it isn't.

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