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Grim Fandango

You'll die laughing
'Welcome to the Land of the Dead. Like you've always been told, never leave a chip pan unattended, but anyway, there's no point in crying over third-degree burns now. We aim to make your stay in Hades as comfortable as possible. You have a four-year journey to make across the Underworld, to your final resting place, and the style you do it depends on how good a life you led. Em, you'll find your bike outside�'

Manny Calavera is a long-suffering estate agent in the Land of the Dead. Sick of being beaten to the best clients by his flash rival Dom, he tries to snatch a top-flight arrival by sneaking a look at his colleague's files. Enter the mysterious Mercedes Colomar, whose first class booking has gone missing, and the beginning of a lavish, hilarious, stylish graphic adventure mystery from the masters of the art, Lucasarts.

If you've been lucky enough to encounter games like 'Day of the Tentacle', 'Secret of Monkey Island' or 'Full Throttle', you'll know what's in store. The interface is very simple - pick up and use any objects you come across and make conversation with characters from a list of choices. There are a staggering 8,000 lines of dialogue, and a lot of these are great one-liners. It's like playing an early Woody Allen movie.

Manny's partner in crime is Glottis, an oversized grease monkey cum demon driver who is as endearing as he is thick - that's very endearing! Together they try and figure out ways of passing the demon beavers, finding pigeons for the revolutionaries, and any ways of customising their wheels. These tasks form the basis of some great puzzles, which are neither tediously obvious or excruciatingly hard.

The visual styling is sensational - a sort of cartoon art deco set in 3D, with polygon characters brilliantly animated. Progressing through scene after memorable scene really drives the player on to see all its delights. There is one fly in the ointment, and it's purely technical. The game continually loads data and sound effects in a way that frequently interrupts the fastest PC. This spoils the fluidity of some sequences and causes niggling delays. However it's a small price to pay for a modern masterpiece.

// Overview
If you like intelligent games, funny games or just adventure games - Grim Fandango is absolutely essential. The setting and characters are inspired and the dialogue and plot surpass most modern films. The game sticks to the familiar format of Lucasarts adventures, but with a couple of sophisticated tweaks and a complete overhaul by using 3D scenes. The loading problems are a sorry blight though. One of the games of 1998.
// Interactive
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