Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Sierra
Developer: High Voltage Software

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PC Review - 'Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude'

by Alanix on Oct. 27, 2004 @ 1:57 a.m. PDT

Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is the coming of age story about Larry Lovage, nephew of Larry Laffer, the series' original lovable loser. In Magna Cum Laude, Lovage starts as a pathetic loser enrolled at Community College who spends most of his time in his dorm room, or on campus striking out with women. After hearing about a reality TV dating show visiting his college campus, he resolves to revitalize his life and win. Over the course of the game, Larry sets out on an epic search for love (or its equivalent) and finds that things don't always go as planned.

Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Vivendi
Developer: High Voltage
Release Date: October 5, 2004

(Reviewer's Note: This game, and, as a consequence, this review, contains adult language, sexual content, and nudity. Reader - and gamer - discretion is advised.)

Finally, a new Leisure Suit Larry game! I have played and enjoyed the previous seven games in this long-running franchise very much, which were unquestionably tailored to the largest gaming demographic of males aged 18-40. This game has everything that young horn dogs could wish for: buxom babes, risqué dialogue, huge mammalian protuberances and a glut of sophomoric humor. In short, what I like to call a "hoot and a half!"

This time around, we are in control of the original Leisure Suit Larry's nephew as he embarks on a quest to bed as many college co-ed's as possible. The structure is familiar. We begin with Larry Lovage entering college, and what do you know, a reality television show is on campus, called "Swingles." Larry is desperate to be a contestant on this show, where three hot babes compete for a chance to get belly-to-belly with YOU! The catch is, you need to prove to the hottie producer that you are man enough to compete by bringing her "items of affection" from women you have "conquered."

In case you didn't heed my earlier note, here's another warning: this game is definitely adult in nature! I am still wrapping my mind around the fact that Singles (a Sims-type game which I previewed) was given an "AO" (Adults Only) rating, whereas LSL: MCL was granted an "M" (Mature 17+). Singles was long on innuendo and some nudity, but, with the exception of pubic hair, the new Larry game is much more adult in nature. The language in this game, right out of the box, would be censored if I were to repeat it here. The first time I spoke to a random college girl, she told me to "F**k off, you loser!"

That being said, let's begin looking at the anatomy of the game. The original LSL games were a point-and-click affair, but now Larry and his ladies are rendered in gorgeous 3D! The basic maneuvering is accomplished using the classic "WASD" shooter controls, with an over-the-shoulder perspective. Gameplay-wise, this is a conglomerate of recognizable mini-games, all built around a common theme. In this case, the theme is getting l'il Larry's ashes hauled. If you are thinking of purchasing this game as proof of your gaming prowess, stop right now, and go buy a shooter. This game is all about attitude, style and story. You must bring to the table a strong sense of humor, and no kids near the computer. I can't say this enough: no kids!

To win the aforementioned "items of affection," you must first win over the lady of your momentary dreams. Chatting her up is usually the first step. This involves controlling a happy swimmer through a mini-screen of green hearts and smiley-faces (which add to your progress) and red icons (which make you inappropriately stare at her breasts, fart, etc.) to get your intended to be interested in you.

After that, you could end up playing "quarters" against your mark by sliding back the mouse, then moving it forward to bounce a quarter into a shot glass. If you make the shot, she has to drink. The first to pass out is the loser. If you aren't the loser, then there may be another mini-game a la Dance Dance Revolution, where you must mimic button presses. On my PC (P4 2.8GHz, 512mb RAM, 128mb Nvidia), there were occasional glitches that made me swear out loud. You may have to distribute food, or flyers, or whatever in a game that is identical to the great coin-op bar game "Tapper."

A version of the hand-slapping game where players put their palms together and the one on the bottom tries to slap the one on the top is present, but not used that much. At times, you must also run around the campus from place to place collecting things and avoiding the dean, the FBI, or militant lesbians, etc.

The difficulty increases as you get farther along, but don't worry. If a game gets too hard for you, you can opt to "wimp out" by paying a set number of "secret tokens" you collect during your travels.

Your quests include the standard campus hijinks: panty raids, trampoline jumping, and a lot of drinking. LOTS of drinking, as a matter of fact. Frankly, you can drink so much that you end up as balanced as an amputee with an inner ear infection walking on a 10-foot sailboat in rough seas. Fortunately, you can either buy coffee to sober you up, or just pee away your drunkenness.

You can pledge a frat, join an animal-rights campaign, or just roam around, screwing up hacky-sack games. Side quests are present and just as varied in theme, if not execution. You can turn out some hoes for the local pimp, be the water boy in a few wet t-shirt contests, or be the school mascot and spread school spirit. If you are so inclined, you can feed lab monkeys, join a rock band ... you get the picture. If you are broke and need a fast buck, slide on down to the local sperm bank and squeeze one off for a fast fiver (this mini-game is a lot like "Pong" with a capital "D").

The dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny, and the voice talent rises to the occasion. The new Larry has the same nasally whine as his uncle, the original Lounge Lizard, had. The ladies all sound sufficiently sexy, or annoyed, or just plain psychotic. As a stickler for good voice talent, I am very happy that this game lives up to its potential in that area.

Graphically, this is very cartoonish, but that works in the game's favor when it comes to the more explicit scenes. I have always found the hentai games to be a little over the top, but LSL: MCL hits a perfect balance of funny and sexy. A large part of Larry's progress in the game has to do with his wardrobe. After all, clothes make the man. You start with the de rigueur polyester leisure suit, which now resembles more of a retro-Miami-Vice getup, and you can purchase better and cooler outfits. Then, you need to accessorize, and vending machines scattered throughout the game offer options, as do the local bartenders and shopkeepers.

Your "conquests" in this game are the babes, and boy howdy, do they run the gamut of types. You can have Analisa, the tough-talking Italian broad from da Bronx; Suzi, the leather-clad, finger-snapping rocker (think Leather Tuscadero from "Happy Days"); Barbara Jo, the air headed, huge-breasted cheerleader (okay, they are almost all huge-breasted, now that I think about it) ; Zanna, the zaftig, rubenesque German exchange student; Uma, the host of "Swingles" ... the list goes on.

The other characters are equally diverse, and much more bizarre. I actually had to out-argue a coin-op video game to get one babe to talk to me. Fat Sam owns the neighborhood strip club. Helmut is the ripped doorman, wearing the sequined banana-hammock at the gay bar; there are twin bouncers at different VIP rooms, the Commissar, a homeless guy you befriend and so on. The developers have peopled this world with very colorful and often hilarious denizens. Then, there's the genius monkey, who chronically spanks himself, and I do mean chronically.

Besides making a "wimp out" possible, the "secret tokens" I mentioned earlier can be traded in to unlock special features, such as "naughty mode," concept art, viewable models of the games' characters in the buff, game credits, and so on and so forth.

I will admit that gameplay can get a bit repetitive, but the developers wisely put great dialogue over the games, so there is always something to distract you. Throw in a song parody or two, shake well, and you have a recipe for good, adult entertainment. I must also report that, with the exception of "nude mode" (unlocked when you complete the game), the replay value is on the low side, unless you break the game out at parties just to get everyone laughing their butts off.

In the final analysis, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is a great addition to a classic series and should satisfy the twisted pervert inside all of us ... well, inside of me, anyway.

Score: 8.0/10


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