Review: Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust

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I love comedy and comedy games are such a joy to play. From Tim Schafer's adventure games to dark offensive humorous games like Postal, comedy is a sure way to keep me playing. In the case of Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust, the comedy is the only thing that kept me going. If you're familiar with the series, it's usually a point-and-click adventure game where you try and get Larry to score with some ladies. They ditched the point-and-click for more of an action-adventure and it's a rough transition.

Larry Lovage gets hired by his uncle Larry Laffer (the original protagonist from the series) as an assistant at Laffer Studios, a movie studio that Laffer owns making possibly NC-17 content. Laffer is looking for a mole within the studio and hires his nephew for the job. Lovage starts as a low-end maintenance worker and moves up the ranks at the studio, even staring in some of the films they're working on. Being Larry Lovage and in this series, Larry has a side objective to score big with some of the ladies around the studio.

Box Office Break was written by Allen Covert (Grandma's Boy) and has a pretty good cast of Hollywood actors, which I guess is what happened to the budget to fix this game up. The cast features Josh Keaton, Jeffrey Tambor, Jay Mohr, Patrick Warburton, Shannon Elizabeth , Carmen Electra, Artie Lange and Dave Attell. Keeping this in mind, this game is fairly decent quality for a 2000s comedy on it's own. I laughed quite a few times at the jokes, the parodies, and the high school humor. If you're a fan of cheesy raunchy comedies with lots of innuendo, the script is surprisingly funny and the only reason I kept playing through it.

But outside of the story, just about everything else is poorly done. I didn't have any positive gameplay experiences, which for some of you will be the end of this review. We play games to play them, not watch an entertaining movie. This game fails completely as a game. It's hard to even label what genre this game is as it's just a mix of a bunch of different gameplay games in a sandbox setting. One minute you're platforming looking for missing movie scripts and the next minute you're fist fighting your way through lot security. And almost every one of those mechanics feels broken.

The core of your gameplay experience is driving around a lot, doing missions for various characters in a decently sized world for it's time. Most of your time spent will be driving from point A to point B with a very generous time limit, fist fighting guards, or platforming up movie sets for an objective piece. Midway through the game, Lovage falls asleep and it able to enter a dream universe where you'll play through a specific movie theme with different types of game modes such as shoot outs or escort missions. The problem with a lot of the gameplay is just as I stated above: they feel broken. For instance the combat mechanics. Punching someone doesn't ever feel like it connects and the damage you take or give is random without any gratification of fighting. It just feels like the combat was programmed with a random number generator. You just have to hope you can complete theses segments so you don't have to do them again. There's a timing to combat, which doesn't feel natural and it's hard to tell when you're doing it right. The idea is to punch and pause for a second to do a combo but it doesn't always work. I failed missions so many times from random physics knocking me on the ground and a security guard ends up anti-juggling me or failing from not being able to connect punches to people right next to me. At least there's not many combat segments but when you run into them it's a good while before you can pass them without luck.

Platforming wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the awful camera. We're talking early 90s 3D platformer cameras. The best way to describe my experience is the moment you need to see where you're jumping, the camera decides to use it's "flush" function and spin around like it's taking a trip down a toilet. I'm certain this game has a high chance of killing anyone with epileptic seizures from the camera alone. There's some other issues with the platforming such as wall jumping not registering correctly, but the camera is the biggest stink. Several times I would climb an area and have the camera spin so much that Lovage would jump completely sideways and off the side of a structure. Even the fall damage is a bit broken. Randomly I can fall off the side of a building and take somewhere around 5% damage. Then a smaller fall may cause me to almost die.

When I first entered the cowboy theme in a dream sequence, I was hoping the new gameplay modes would be a bit more exciting but it was just shoot outs and poorly designed stealth missions where you control like a drunk character. The shoot outs were annoying since the turn speed for your gun during a more rail shooter sequence was at a literal crawl. I actually died several times waiting for my aim cursor to move to enemies. It's not a fun experience.

Their horror theme has Lovage in the Michael Jackson "Thriller" attire while you do a whole bunch of crap no one cares about. This is the time they introduce an escort mission. The escort mission is pretty easy. I think you'd have to have be firing off at a third of your brain's cylinders to mess it up. A Freddy Kruger looking character chases some bikini girls while they head to their camp and you have to stop him while escorting the girls to their log cabins. Kruger's scared of fire so as a Michael Jackson parody, what do you do? You catch your hair on fire and follow the girl while she bounces off to her cabin. I told you the game is funny.

Now that I'm writing this stuff out, I'm beginning to believe I'm some kind of masochist for getting a Platinum trophy in this game.

The graphics are pretty bad and I'm judging this honestly with eyes from the time it came out. What makes them bad isn't the texture quality. I actually thought the textures for an old game were detailed (when the loaded) and looked really nice. The issue with the graphics are most of the character models, animations, and the frame rate. Women are mostly over the top busty, and not like a Lucy Pinder or Anri Okita busty. They're more bimbo-fied than a woman with large watermelon for boobs. Artistic decision and all, it just looks really bad and every female is designed like this. I'm not calling this out as sexism as much as just saying they just don't look good (see below). The women look flat out ugly and just have a big set of boobs hanging out that are bigger than their heads. 

Then there's the frame rate issue which pops up frequently. The frame rate doesn't dip into single digits from what I could tell but it's all over the place and causes issues while driving or platforming. It doesn't make sense. Driving down a normal road will cause stuttering and dips in performance. Then a more crowded area ends up being less of an issue once it pops all the textures and geometry into place.

The main game clocks in around 6-8 hours and there's a few side quests to keep you busy if you want to suffer some more. The side quests include racing around the studio within a time limit, finishing side quests for women to lead them to your trailer of love, or collecting Larry trophies. As you can tell, none of them are worth explaining more than that. The game is a total barf bag package.

Surprisingly, the game didn't crash once on my PlayStation 3. I have to give them props for that since as pathetic as this game is, it didn't have any major issues with shutting down or locking up. The story holds up if you enjoy anything parody and the American Pie movies, but if you want to play a game that's fun and functional, you're better off just re-reading this review.

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The best thing about running your own website is that no one can tell you what to do. Also, video games are awesome.
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