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Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Sierra
Developer: High Voltage Software
Release Date: Oct. 5, 2004


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PS2 Preview - 'Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude'

by Paul Reith on June 13, 2004 @ 2:24 a.m. PDT

In Magna Cum Laude, Larry 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 searches for love (or its equivalent) and finds that things don't always go as planned.

Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Vivendi
Developer: High Voltage Software
Release Date: September 21, 2004

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Well, here it is. After Leisure Suit Larry debuted on the PC over 15 years ago, we now have the Vivendi Universal release for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 2. However, this story now focuses around Larry Laffer’s nephew Larry Lovage. Young Larry is now in college, and since Uncle Larry is no longer the nerd we first met, he is the idol for our young star. We soon see the education in the old tricks our young hero has had, and see the wisdom of Uncle Larry’s guidance.

Way back when, if you are old enough to remember, Larry Laffer starred in a smash hit created by Sierra Entertainment and humorist Al Lowe. The original Leisure Suit Larry became the first in a series of offerings that always had you waiting for the next laugh. Arguably, the final episode, Love for Sail, didn’t leave much room for additional development of Larry Laffer from nerd to stud, with the transformation nearly complete.

So, with our sitting-duck star transformed into a bird-of-prey, and the artistic influence of Al Lowe no longer under contract with Sierra, Vivendi Universal management had a cash cow at the crossroads. To the right is the sunset, where Larry can find a beach and enjoy eternal retirement. To the left is a dead end, where another episode with the same character and different humor may very well end in disaster. Straight ahead, we see transformation – give an old theme a new venue and tie in the nostalgia of the old series. Luckily, someone decided, “Straight on ‘til dawn!”

The result is Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. Take a new, green nerd, and place him under the guidance of experienced Uncle Larry. Solving the major problems, Vivendi has recycled a popular title, removed an old pervert lead character, and made hot teen co-eds the focus of our attention!

With the series now marketable again, we see a plot develop around a dork planted at a community college. A reality dating show rolls in to town and now this loser has a mission - if there’s any way he’s going to have a shot at a girl – that show is it.

An appearance on the dating show becomes the plot, but it really appears to take a backseat to hittin’ the hotties in this build. Essentially, by scoring with the girls, getting cash in the mini-games, and exploring your world, this adventure game leads you through several fine specimens of females on your way to scoring a spot on the show. And yes, for you Man Show fans, there are trampolines in the game, although it is not yet clear if the developers at High Voltage will use them for their God-given purpose.

So, let’s get to the heart of the issue… …hotties! These girls definitely make full use of the new 3D environment, and it’s your turn to put these babes on the ropes. Hopefully you’ve got the stamina for this adventure game, but maybe you should pick up some Viagra just incase. Essentially, you will be playing mini-games to get in these girls pants – play quarters until one of you is wasted, do a DDR style dance with your d-pad, and success gets you babes. Do everything right and your lame character keeps it together just enough to score, or miss a step and watch that babe squish your ego like a bug, either way, it has potential to be entertaining.

Visually, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is fairly vivid, utilizing High Voltage’s own Atlas engine. Characters are well designed, and most of the females you will interact with are quite well proportioned, and their portraits for the load screens will leave you wiping the drool from the edge of your mouth. The shading, freedom of movement and interaction with items give it a real 3D feel, leaving only some of the mini-games with graphics that look sparse. On the whole, the Atlas engine is well suited for this game, fitting the theme and feel of the game, with only one weird aspect. If you check screenshots, big head is not turned on, that’s just how big heads are in this world. Funky, but it must be to accentuate the facial expressions of the characters.

Audio so far is acceptable, with some real potential. Conversation dialogue is well written and acted, but there isn’t as much awkwardness in Larry’s voice as there probably should be. Musically, the game still isn’t polished, but we’ll be looking forward to that in the future.

Overall, Leisure Suit Larry has some fun game play, and of course, sexy women as always. The introduction of Larry Lovage is a stroke of luck, as a new main character means that Al Lowe’s absence will not be so sorely missed, and with gameplay including full frontals, this means a true 18+ offering, departing from the PG-13 standards of past. Magna Cum Laude has great potential, either to be a titillating exploration into the freshman year of a dork, or to be a real stinker with a bad plot. After all, if you can score with 15 girls before you get on the singles show, why would you even care about getting on the show anymore?

Stay tuned to see the result, but remember what my grandfather said, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back!”

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