Game Reviews

Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded

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Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded

There's no denying that Leisure Suit Larry is a lovingly crafted remake. It looks and sounds much better than it ever did, and it stays faithful to its subject matter while making a handful of adjustments that subtly change the experience for those who finished the original.

The question is whether it's a game that really deserved to be remade, and that's an altogether harder case to argue.

To all intents and purposes little has changed within the game. You still play Larry Laffer, a hopeless 40-something pervert whose sole aim is to get laid. He's meant to be a lovable doofus, but with his infuriatingly whiney voice and constant preoccupation with sex he's hard to warm to.

Poker face

Either way, your job is to help him copulate, to which end you ferry him around a handful of locations in the city of Lost Wages (the puns get no better) solving obscure puzzles to, for example, obtain a penknife from a wino, or to distract a pimp guarding a disease-ridden hooker.

It's meant to be fairly light-hearted in tone, and back in 1987 it might perhaps have come across that way. But times have changed, and many of its ideas now seem pretty wretched.

While it's fair to say that its male characters don't come off well - almost everyone is either a dribbling letch or a hapless loser - the women you interact with are hardly an improvement, being portrayed as nothing more than sex objects.

Some will use the argument that it's filtered through the lens of a sex-obsessed protagonist, but I'm not sure that's sufficient explanation for every female character being so blatantly stereotyped and objectified.

The leisure principles

The casual racism is equally hard to swallow, though that's at least explained - if not excused - by the less enlightened time at which the game was written.

The same benefit of the doubt can't be applied to some of the updated gags, including an arcade game named Angry Broads, where the pigs of Rovio's game have been replaced by a group of porcine feminists.

That, like many of the jokes here, simply isn't funny. I did, admittedly, chuckle once or twice, though the scattershot approach to humour misses more often than it hits.

He who Laffs last

Though the subject matter leaves much to be desired, I'd be lying if I said Reloaded didn't have its moments. Some puzzles are far too obscure, and others involve a lot of toing and froing, but there are a clutch of inventive conundrums scattered throughout the game.

It's generally well presented, too - though the character models are sparsely animated, the world itself is detailed and appropriately squalid. Austin Wintory's themes, meanwhile, are an obvious standout, adding a fittingly sleazy ambiance to proceedings.

In the end, Reloaded is a very good remake of an enormously dated game, both mechanically and thematically. You'd be hard pushed to say it didn't serve the Kickstarter audience that backed it fairly well, but by the time the credits were rolling I felt in need of a vigorous scrub to wash away the grime.

Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded

A fine remake, but it can't fix the flaws of the tawdry, outdated original
Chris Schilling
Chris Schilling
Chris has been gaming since the age of five, though you wouldn't think it to see him play. Thankfully, his knowledge of the medium is as impressive as his unerring ability to fail at Angry Birds.