Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude Impressions

High Voltage and Vivendi show off the upcoming bawdy adventure game for the PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.

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Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude
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Though he has not made an appearance in an adventure game since 1996, Leisure Suit Larry remains one of the iconic characters of PC gaming. The amorous adventures of the lovable loser of a lounge lizard were popular with gamers due to the combination of bawdy humor and the raciness of the subject matter. Yet Larry belonged to an earlier age. Since the last Leisure Suit Larry game, gamers have been exposed to racier material in such mainstream fare as the American Pie movies. But developer High Voltage Software believes that there’s room in today’s society for an updated Leisure Suit Larry, so High Voltage and publisher Vivendi gave us a look at Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.

This new Leisure Suit Larry game will ship for the PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 2, and Producer Josh VanVeld used the Xbox version for our tour. All three versions should ship simultaneously. Unlike most adventure games that use a point-and-click control scheme, Leisure Suit Larry will use action-style controls; that is, you'll be able to run around the world much like you would in a third-person action game. However, Larry won't be able to attack anyone. Instead, when he looks at an object or person, an icon will indicate whether he can interact with it further. You then just have to click the corresponding button to examine an object or person (for example, he'll be able to check out women), talk to someone, or interact with an oject. The PC will use the familiar WASD-control scheme used in action games, with the mouse as the pointing device.

In the game, you'll play Larry Lovage, the nephew of the legendary Leisure Suit Larry. As a sixth-year senior in college, Larry is desperate to score. When Swingles, a hot reality dating show, announces that it's coming to campus, Larry discovers that to impress the show's producers, he has to prove he's capable of scoring with the girls on campus. The game then follows Larry's adventures as he attempts to seduce 15 girls, each with distinctly different personalities, and each presenting different challenges. Of course, he can also interact with dozens of other characters, including jocks and other girls.

VanVeld showed us a handful of the minigames that are in the game. For example, when Larry attempts to converse with Sally Mae, a country girl, he'll attempt to impress her by pretending to be a country music producer having an important conversation on his cell phone. As Larry talks on the phone, the player will have to constantly choose which direction the conversation will go. For instance, if Sally Mae isn't paying attention, you can have Larry take an angry tone to demonstrate his importance, but if Sally Mae is getting turned off by that, you can choose a sweeter tone to show your softer side. It sounds a bit weird, but to actually hear the ad lib conversation that erupts from the choices you make can be hilarious. VanVeld told us that there are 74 speaking roles in the game, with thousands of lines of dialogue that have been recorded with professional voice actors.

To continue further with the Sally Mae example, once Larry has impressed her, she'll ask him to make her a drink at the bar. This launches yet another minigame that's similar to the classic arcade game whack-a-mole. The game will have icons on the screen that represent the buttons on the control pad. When an icon flashes, the player has to mash the appropriate button on the control pad as quickly as possible. The quicker the player is, the more successful Larry is in making the drink. But if the player lags behind, the drink will suffer and the bitter-tasting beverage will make a negative impression on Sally Mae.

High Voltage appears to definitely be keeping the ribald tone of the franchise intact, and what we saw should defiantly appeal to gamers who are fans of such humor. Needless to say, Leisure Suit Larry will have an "M" rating. VanVeld told us that he is on track in development and that the game should be finished by the fourth quarter of the year.

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