Today I was going back watching some of the Episode trailers (really awesome work on those - just plain fun to watch), when I came upon the "phone" trailer for Episode 1, announcing the duo's return.
What really struck me was the quality and variety of animation - it felt more "pre-rendered" than the in-engine cutscenes we get with each episode (which makes sense, considering that it was). The interaction as Sam is on the phone and Max is frantically grasping for it just looked really neat.
Now, I know that there are a handful of custom animations in each episode - Max's death scene, "playing cards" together, the War Room introduction, but a lot of the gameplay just feels like three characters (Sam, Max, and Someone Else) standing around using recycled and fairly generic speech animations.
Again, I have to qualify that statement - I know that the writing, the sardonic humor, the incisive wit is the raison d’etre of Sam and Max, and so far I've been more and more impressed with it as the season has progressed.
I also know that there are significant limitations imposed by a development cycle as ambitious as this one. Every line can't be synched up to a customized facial and gesture animation, and I understand that. (And every puzzle can't be a brain-twister.)
It's just something that stands out to me as I play.
I've certainly enjoyed the last four episodes, and I feel like I've gotten my money's worth (I purchased a season pass) from this season already.
I love the artwork, the music's terrific, and the writing has been pretty close to excellent. But the simplicity of some of the puzzles, the quality of some of the sound samples, and the repetitive nature of the speech animations are, in my opinion, low points in an otherwise stellar offering.