Not only is TALES a worthy entry, it left me feeling satisfied in a way no other MI game has. No, it wasn't flawless. Yes, there were a few loose ends and a little teaser to prevent 100% closure (not necessarily a bad thing). But compare it to what came before...
SECRET had a fine ending for its day, but character investment was relatively limited when compared to future entries. REVENGE was a deliberate exercise in teasing and frustrating the player. CURSE ended far too abruptly, exposing one of the game's flaws: that while it was incredibly rich in terms of design and atmosphere; while the puzzles and game design were superlative; and while it was VERY funny; it was also unfortunately light on story or anything resembling character development between our leads (unlike the previous games, Elaine was inert for 99% of the time). As for ESCAPE ... well, it was far more PLOTTY compared to CURSE, and they threw in a lot more cutscenes towards the end, but the story still wasn't particularly rich from a character standpoint. The chemistry was still there, but muted. And Monkey Kombat made for an incredibly unsatisfying climax. The game ended, and you just felt kind of ... limp.
TALES has its issues, most of them minor. The puzzle design isn't as virtuoso as REVENGE or CURSE, and it hews slightly easier, although it's still very well done. The art isn't as gorgeous as CURSE, but then few games are -- and TALES makes up for it with my personal favorite Guybrush design (zombie LeChuck didn't hit as close to the mark, but was acceptable). The plotting can get a bit abstruse at times -- albeit nothing as off-putting as the retconning in ESCAPE. But where TALES really excels is in the characters and writing. From the prologue to the final battle, this aspect of the game truly shines. Combining that with a compelling narrative and cinematic gameplay left me deeply impressed. I was happy and content at the end of the experience in a way that I wasn't with any of the four earlier entries. That's not to say that it didn't leave me wanting more -- it definitely did! But if it does turn out to be the last MI game, I'll be much more at peace with that than if the series had ended with ESCAPE.
And burn me as a heretic, but I think TALES has the best voice for Stan. :P
Last edited by Admonisher; 09/08/2012 at 03:16 am.