Hi! My girlfriend and I just finished series 1, so while it's still fresh in my mind I'd like to say what I thought was good and bad.
This and the launcher were real weak links for me. (I bought from the Telltale website, by the way.) The downloader was very slow - it took about twenty minutes to half an hour to download each of the episodes despite having a fast connection. The one exception was the free episode, Abe Lincoln Must Die. This downloaded really fast, taking around five minutes or so.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The launcher seems completely and painfully pointless to me. For a start, every episode has its own launcher, so there's no real integration here. Recently played stuff appears in my start menu, but because each episode is a completely separate game this generally meant I had an easy shortcut to play the episode I just finished, but had to hunt for the one I just installed. Even worse, the launcher has no close button! On one occasion I started up the wrong episode by mistake, and found that I couldn't quit the launcher without starting the game or killing it in task manager. That's very bad behaviour for a Windows application.
I'd much rather see a single launcher for the whole series, that shows you which episodes you have installed, with links to download and install the others you own or buy the ones you don't, and that can be closed.
Opening sequence, credits
I enjoyed watching the opening sequence of each episode the first few times, but it got a bit frustrating that it couldn't be skipped after a while. Similarly, the closing credits were getting a bit repetitive by the end of the series. I'm someone who will almost always sit through all of the closing credits of a game, but the episodic format made this far too frequent and repetitive.
Loading and saving
Automatic saving was great, and the loading and saving interface seemed nice and easy.
I don't think the game crashed on me once. These days, I think that deserves recognition. ;)
The game itself
I enjoyed the game a lot. So far as self-contained puzzles go, I really enjoyed the firewall in Reality 2.0. It was a satisfying process: hmmm... maybe I should paint my car... that car got through, maybe I should copy its paint... that didn't work, but look, the thing is scanning the number plate too...
The puzzles involving disabling individual members of COPS in the same episode were one of my favourite joined up puzzles. It's nice when a puzzle requires a bit more thought than just trying every object on every piece of scenery, and instead you are actually changing the state of the environment and then figuring out how to make use of it. The cue-cards in the presidential debate were good in a similar way.
The games did feel a bit linear. It didn't seem very often that I had a real choice of things to do, but I think that's inherent in the episodic format. I'm a bit sad to think that I won't get to see again the breadth and depth of interlocking puzzles in the original Sam and Max Hit the Road. Then again, at least I won't be stuck for days or weeks on end unable to make progress or even figure out which puzzle I actually [em]can[/em] make progress on.
Moving Sam around the screen was quite awkward. Often I'd just miss on a click and Sam would go all over the place. Strangest was when I clicked on the road to the right of Bosco's, and instead of walking to the end and stopping where he couldn't go further, Sam walked all the way back to Sybil's. Some locations also suffered from the camera turning too tightly. To go from the cupboard at the back of Sybil's to the door requires lots and lots of clicks because of the way the camera works. Plus Sam can be pretty slow, but I hear he can run in Season 2, so I'm looking forward to that.
The art looked smart and attractive, but I did feel the animation was lacking something. Sam and Max seemed a bit stiff and rubbery. Max didn't really come across as particularly "hyperkinetic". I think the transition to 3D may have robbed him of some of his character.
Website and purchase system
That flash navigation bar is really annoying. It means that I can't middle-click on any of the links to open it in a new tab (I'm using Firefox), or right-click on it to open it in a new window or copy the link to the clipboard, etc. As far as I can tell, there's no point in it being Flash. It doesn't seem to animate or anything. It would be much better as regular images. (With proper alt attributes, please. :) )
I was a bit disappointed that the gift versions are separate products. I would have bought season one as a gift, but I'm not keen on buying season two for someone and then telling them that they've got to wait months for most of it.
I've been a bit negative here, but I should stress that I did really enjoy the games. I wouldn't be here posting if I didn't! I'm looking forward to Season 2 and I hope it's fixed some of the flaws in the system. Most of my complaints are really just "rough edges" around some otherwise pretty amazing games. It's been great fun playing these with my girlfriend - they work very well with one person playing and another watching and making suggestions. (Although there were one or two fights for the mouse!) Keep up the good work, and make it shine like it deserves to!