For those who don't know, Wallace & Gromit are a cheeky comedy duo from Aardman Studios' award-winning claymation movies. The characters themselves were created by an artistic bloke by the name of Nick Park, who worked directly with game developer Telltale to create the episodic Wallace & Gromit adventure game series. And we have an exclusive look at the next episode: Wallace & Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort, which is coming out for the PC soon, and a bit later on for Xbox Live.
Episode 2 picks up right after the end of Episode 1, which is available now on PC and is soon to be released on Xbox Live. All the episodes are planned to be stories about how Wallace, an absent-minded-but-well-meaning inventor works with Gromit on various get-rich-quick schemes, to sort of invent their way to instant wealth. As it happens, the boys start their second episode about to go on holiday to Blackpool. Bit of a problem, though: it's pouring rain! A disappointed Gromit, holding his inflatable pool pal, wanders dejectedly back into the house, wondering how things could possibly go worse, when they do. It seems Wallace is trapped in the basement and crying out for help.
This is the first scene of the game, and you play it as Gromit, though you'll switch control between both of the lads as the situation dictates. Chiefly, Gromit is quite good at doing detective work, completing puzzles, and generally solving problems. Wallace, on the other hand, is better at talking to other people (being a human and not a mute dog, obviously), and he's also rather good at causing problems.
This first bit of the game offers up the first puzzle, in which Gromit must somehow navigate the electrified waters of the flooded basement (after a minor hardware mishap on Wallace's part) to trip the circuit breaker. To do this, you control Wallace using either your USB gamepad (or Xbox 360 gamepad), or your computer keyboards W, A, S, and D keys, using mouselook to look around you, zeroing in on any objects of interest, which can then be "used" to see if they can solve the current puzzle, or simply get a witty remark from Wallace.
After performing a brilliant and daring maneuver involving Gromit's inflatable friend, compressed gas, and Newton's Third Law, Gromit trips the circuit breaker, saving the day and inspiring a new business venture for the entrepeneurial Wallace: If no one can go to the beach in such terrible weather, why not bring the beach indoors to his own flooded basement, and charge the neighbours a few quid for visiting privileges?
Thus begins the adventure, as Wallace wanders out of the house to head to town in search of materials for his home beach resort, such as lots and lots of sand. On the way out, he comes upon his next-door-neighbour Felicity, a kindly lass being set upon by a rather bold suitor, the burly Scotsman Duncan (a new character introduced in this episode). Standing idly by will net you many continuous lines of incidental overheard conversation as Felicity tries politely, but vainly, to put off Duncan for a beach date (the game will have some 1,800 lines of recorded dialogue). Stopping in for a chat will interrupt their conversation and give Felicity a chance to try to escape her would-be suitor's attention, as well as to reintroduce Gromit to her prize pooches, a couple of tiny dogs with nasty temperaments and nastier teeth.
Finally, Wallace wanders out to town to find that, with a little persuasive talking to the right people, he may indeed find the materials he seeks. For instance, in the middle of the town square, he finds an animated (pun intended!) argument between the local constable and a blustery retired military officer, both of whom appeared in the previous game. It seems the military man has a truck full of sand-filled sandbags he'd like to use to help declare a state of emergency just because there's been a bit of rain, while the constable insists that the truck be moved. By carefully manipulating the conversation as Wallace, presently agreeing with one side, then with another, until both parties end up happy, Wallace can net himself all the sand he can carry away. Telltale suggests that this episode may have more dialogue-based puzzles such as this, given that the episode is being created by a former Lucasarts designer who worked on Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and tends to prefer more interpersonal interaction over using-the-fish-to-turn-on-the-light-that-makes-the-bicycle-run-that-unlocks-the-door, and that sort of thing.
We then jumped forward to a slightly later part of the game, during which Wallace has assembled the neighbourhood around his dining-room table (which is also his basement resort's dinner table). However, during the pre-supper banter, the lights go out, a bit of confusion and shouting happens, and when the lights come back, the obnoxious Duncan has been conked on the head by a mysterious assailant. This is about where the game turns into a sort of G-rated Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None "Whodunit" mystery, but with no murdering, and more mute claymation dogs.
The Last Resort should clock in at about 2-5 hours of gameplay, depending on how many of the game's nooks and crannies players want to explore. The game is scheduled for release in the next month or so for PC, and will arrive in the coming months on Xbox Live.