Me not so horny.
Don't be fooled by all the wars, politics, and equal rights rhetoric - teen sexuality is a serious issue in America today. Many noble organizations try to thwart teen sex, but they're getting beaten like gimps at an S&M show by all the lewdness on TV, and more than ever, video games.
It is ironic, then, that possibly the most powerful anti-sex weapon ever devised has recently been published by Vivendi for the PS2, Xbox and PC under the title Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.
Even though it bears the classic Leisure Suit Larry moniker,Magna Cum Laude is not really a Leisure Suit Larry game. Whereas the first few LSL titles were witty, fun, and interesting PC adventures, Magna Cum Laude is sleazy, insipid, and downright bad. We are certain that if teenagers around the country were forced to deal with Magna Cum Laude's insane loading times and awful gameplay, the mere mention of words such as "Weiner," and "Double Anal" would send them into fits of boredom and irritability.
Magna Cum Laude has three major problem areas: gameplay, design, and delivery. The story falls somewhere within the domains of design and delivery, although there's little use in being discerning as the plot is terrible either way. You play Larry Lovage, nephew of the hilarious Larry Laffer, star of the old LSL games. You've just gone to college and you're trying to get on a dating show called Swingles. After introducing yourself to the foul-mouthed host of the show, you learn that in order to compete in the Swingles competition you have to present mementos of sexual conquests to the show's crew, thereby proving your playa status. Huh-huh, dude, in order to score, you've got to, like, score.
Fortunately, scoring is easy as it hinges on playing terrible mini-games. There are about seven or eight different games that you'll play over and over again over the course of Magna Cum Laude, and every one of them sucks. Instead of coming up with interesting or new ways to play a Leisure Suit Larry game or even rehashing the inventory puzzles of the originals, developer High-Voltage Software has you playing games older than Leisure Suit Larry itself.
I'm not exaggerating, by the way. In order to make money in Magna Cum Laude, you have to play an 'updated' version of that old arcade game from 1983, Tapper (the first Leisure Suit Larry came out in 1987). In this case, you'll be hurling fliers at college students or throwing food at monkeys. FOR CASH. Since you're regularly forced to buy things in Magna Cum Laude, you can expect to play at least a couple hours worth of Tapper.
Tapper. It's almost 2005, by the way.
The other resource in Magna Cum Laude is confidence. If Larry's confidence level is high, he'll be able to chat up girls and smooth talk his way into or out of many situations. In order to build confidence, you have to play a broken timing game that takes place on a trampoline. You always need confidence, so you can expect to play hours of the trampoline game as well, assuming you have the patience and perversity to sit through hours of Magna Cum Laude.
Once Larry has money and confidence, he's ready to talk to some girls. This always involves a mini-game where you guide a sperm down a gauntlet of symbols. If you hit a green happy face, Larry will say something funny. If you hit a gas-cloud, Larry will fart. If you hit a penis, Larry will make some non-sequitorial remark about penises, and if you hit a beer-jug Larry will get slightly drunker…even if he's not drinking anything. For every girl you hit on, you'll play this game approximately three times. So by the time you've macked on six girls, you will have played this same crappy mini-game about eighteen times.
When you've finally talked a girl's ear off, it's time to get her drunk. This occasionally involves a rousing game of Whack-a-Mole (where you have to press a button before it disappears), and always means a game of quarters. To bounce a quarter, you pull the right stick (or mouse) back and then push it forward. That's it. Quarters gets the girls drunk, and then you wind up getting it on with them in some form or another.
Clearly, the ability to get it on with bare-chested, digital renderings of the opposite sex is Magna Cum Laude's most enticing feature. If you manage to drag yourself through an entire courtship process, you will be treated to about fifteen seconds of something you've never seen before in a video game, like a slutty, rendered girl getting banged by a Teddy bear wearing a strap-on, or a nude band geek getting pleasured by a guy dressed as a flaming bundle of twigs. On the other hand, in several cases nothing happens, because Larry mysteriously loses his nerve and leaps out the window.
Which is exactly what you'll want to do after staring at Magna Cum Laude's smorgasbord of loading screens. Apparently, the developers at High Voltage had never heard of streaming, because every time you move from one of the game's small environments to another, you're treated with a Herculean load time. If you finish a mini-game, expect to wait a minute and a half. If you leave your dorm room, it takes a minute. If you go from your dorm room to the Plaid-mart, you can expect at least five minutes of pure loading.
This is bad enough when you know where you're going, but when you need to find something and are not sure where to look, the loading times become a total nightmare. No matter what bizarre sexual twists await once you've found whatever item you're looking for, it is impossible to search for anything in this game. You do not want to explore, because it takes hours, and this is supposed to be an adventure game. Aside from how tasteless everything is and how bad the mini-games are, the loading times make Magna Cum Laude nigh unplayable. Your average teenage boy could masturbate himself into a coma in the amount of time it would take Larry to search through three screens.
After the heinous loading times, retarded dialogue and hours of Tapper, the game's graphical issues are just icing on the cake. Though the frat-house looks like a frat-house should and some of the digital breasts look great, most of the game world is bleak and cheap. Magna Cum Laude's framerate frequently bogs down on all three systems for no apparent reason, and the animations are repetitive and weak. The trampoline game is one of the worst looking sequences I've ever seen.
To its credit, and I mean ONE credit, the voice actor who plays Larry Lovage does a great job by making Larry into a real character as opposed to some dubbed bunch of polygons with a big head. Indeed, a lot of the voice-acting is pretty good. However, the music and sound effects suck. 'I'm Too Sexy' by Right Said Fred is played on a loop during the trampoline game as well as in several other areas, and the sound effects are largely comprised of fart noises. Although after a few hours of playing, I was the one making fart noises with my own mouth.
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is one of the worst games we've ever seen. As much as we'd like to see more sexual content in games, we're afraid Magna Cum Laude will do for Mature games what Showgirls did for NC-17 rated movies. The only reason it's not getting an 'F' is because it does have quite a few boobs, and we like those a lot. Conversely, we do not like this game at all. Although it's hard to ignore the siren call of digital boobery, please, cover your ears and swear an oath of gaming celibacy. You'll thank us in the morning.