Hector: Badge Of Carnage – Episode 3: Beyond Reasonable Doom Review & Series Round-Up
Developer: Straandlooper, Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Available on: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, PC and Mac (Reviewed on PC)
The Hector: Badge of Carnage Trilogy comes to a conclusion this week with the release of episode 3, entitled: Beyond Reasonable Doom. We covered the first episode back in May, but now that the story is coming to a close, what advancements have been made in the series – if any – and should you go out and try the whole series? Read on, dear reader – and find out why the series really ends with a bang.
Since the events of the first game, where a terrorist – who wanted to improve the town and its amenities – wreaked havoc on the village of Clappers Wreake, a lot has happened. Hector was forced to bow to the demands of the terrorist in the first game, and the episode consisted mainly of fetch quests and completing tasks for the criminal – that is until Hector tried to stop the madness and was caught up in a huge explosion. Feared dead, the second episode however saw our overweight hero emerge from the rubble to join his beanpole assistant Lambert and kick their investigation up a notch. The crime-fighting duo unearthed a mad plot to take over the town with a serum called Arsenal, that would turn wildlife in the village into feral beasts. Just as they discovered who was responsible for the terrible plot however, they were both knocked unconcious.
This is where episode 3 picks up. Stuck in a deathtrap set by the terrorist, Hector and Lambert must escape and save the village, before the plot is realised. You will come across a lot of the characters from the first two episodes, who you have affected for better or worse with your actions. As this episode consists mainly of rushing to stop the evil doer, there is a lot more action, less dialogue and a very fast pace to proceedings. This is good, as episode 2 tended to get bogged down in text from time to time – what with it being an investigative episode. Beyond Reasonable Doom keeps moving along at a good trot, but never feels rushed – it still maintains an adventure gaming feel of time and pace.
If there are any newcomers to the series, a very brief tutorial will briefly explain how to interact with the environment in the game, which is helpful as you may have also been used to an alternate control version – such as switching from PC to iPad or vice versa – so this makes it a lot easier to get to grips with the game, but the tutorial retains the game’s sarcastic, mocking tone of voice. Another welcome addition is the fact that you can control both Hector and Lambert in the game – which could be done in episode 2, but is more extensive here. You can switch from one to another and make use of their own distinct skills – Hector can even use Lambert as an inventory object when he needs to!
As with previous instalments in the trilogy, Beyond Reasonable Doom is great to look at. The designers have taken a lot of care to create detailed, high standard backgrounds and vivid protagonists, who are full of character. It must also be said that the animation standards are incredibly high – lip-synching is very well matched to the voiceovers and general movement is very smooth. As we saw with the first episode, the fact that these visuals are of such a great quality, but are all produced on a 2D plane, means that the game will run great, even on older or lower-spec machines.
The voice and sound work is also very good. Set in England, the entire cast have a mixture of regional accents and twangs to their voices, and these are all very convincing and well acted. Little details such as the sarcastic tone in the voice of Hector, or the moronic intonation in Lambert’s voice, make the experience a great deal more enjoyable, and make the humour all the more effective. What helps the game, both in episodes 2 and 3 – but was not present in the first episode – is that subtitles have now been added into cutscenes. Before, these were not subbed and it meant that some gamers – particularly those who are not British – may have struggled understanding particular accents for some characters. This is helpful in general, just in case you missed what someone said, so is useful to have included.
The signature sense of humour is the strongest point of the game and is certainly present throughout. I was laughing out loud in the first five minutes of play, and if you like potty humour, gross-out comedy and sarcasm, this is definitely the title for you. Unlike most comedy adventures, Hector is truly amusing – but does have a very British sense of humour, so may not be to the taste of everyone. The characters are all very likeable because of this, and you will most likely want to play the series through from start to finish – in order to follow their whole story. Episode 3 really wraps up proceedings nicely – loose ends are explained, character arcs finalised and the story is very self-contained. No strings are left hanging for sequels, and the ending is very satisfying – but all the more so because you have gone through three games to get here.
VERDICT: The series has really made some good strides since the first episode, but it has managed to maintain its strengths at the same time. It may not be a game that will grab the headlines or makes your eyes pop with excitement, but it is a consistently entertaining series with a good – but maybe not very original – plot, and a strong cast of characters. You will most likely get more laughs from this series than any other game this year – and for that reason alone it should be one to look out for. Now that the series as a whole can be purchased and the story played as a whole, I thoroughly recommend that you join in with the carnage.