Also, the game sort of tries to appease you by providing erotic photos of both the polygonal and "real-life" versions of the girls featured in the game as load screens, but unless you're the kind of person who is immediately lulled into submission by the mere sight of a half-naked woman, it's unlikely this will have any effect on the frustration-factor of the game's loading times. The good news is that the PC version of the game is entirely devoid of these horrendous load times, which pretty much makes that version of the game the most enjoyable one by default. The Xbox version's load times are also somewhat shorter than the PlayStation 2's, but both have their lengthy loading periods.
However, if you can find a way to look past the abhorrent console loading times and generally banal gameplay, Magna Cum Laude is most certainly an entertaining experience, thanks largely to its irreverent sense of humor.
Drawing inspiration from everything from American Pie to National Lampoon's Animal House, Magna Cum Laude's comedic quality is really quite astounding. The actual style of humor shifts frequently between the raunchy and vulgar variety to the obscurely referential. The cast of characters Larry encounters is pretty hilarious by itself, including his best male friend, a frequently drunk homeless man known only as The Commissar; a comically mismatched gay couple, featuring an effeminate middle-aged gay bar owner and a muscular, Speedo-clad German fellow named Helmut; a porno fairy--sporting a pink tutu and a massive gut and moustache--who periodically appears to bestow wildly inappropriate advice and gifts; and a talking arcade machine based on the movie Road House, who frequently berates Larry during one of the episodes with the girls and even manages to show up at Larry's dorm room at one point. How, you ask? "367 extension cords--most of them stolen!"
The game's scattershot collection of minigames isn't terrible, but none of them are especially engaging by themselves.
That last bit is actually a pretty good example of the kind of insane dialogue and scenarios featured throughout most of the game. When the game isn't making bizarrely obscure references to films like Dunston Checks In and Baby Geniuses, it's sticking Larry in the midst of a gay-themed musical number based on the song "Summer Nights" from Grease, or it's having Larry streak through a bar to the tune of The Benny Hill Show to impress a lesbian (who Larry himself helped "discover" her true sexual orientation). The incredible variety of situations the game puts in front of you is highly entertaining, to say the least. Occasionally, some of the gags swing a little too far into dismally obvious territory (such as the periodic bouts with fart humor), but, for the most part, the game rarely features a dull moment (outside of the repetitive minigames and loading screens, that is).
If it isn't already obvious at this point, Magna Cum Laude is very much an M-rated game, and, in fact, it pushes some of the boundaries of what we've seen in M-rated games up to this point, mainly with regard to sexuality and dialogue. This game is remarkably politically incorrect, and very few, if any, subjects or social taboos are left unchecked. Rampant swearing and polygonal nudity is all over the place, as well as more than a fair share of crazy sex scenes, including one that borders on pornographic. Of course, the game never gets full-frontal on you, and aside from breasts and posteriors, characters' naughty bits and the serious sex scenes are mostly covered over by giant "CENSORED" boxes--which actually sort of add to the whole humorous aspect of the situation. All the swearing and offensive joking, thankfully, manages to work well and never feels forced, largely due to the really excellent voice acting and writing. Unfortunately, we can't say quite the same thing about the sex stuff. Make no mistake, it's quite funny to watch how each sexual scenario with Larry manages to go raucously awry, but whatever supposed enticement is to be derived from staring at a polygonal model of a nude woman just isn't there, despite the fact that the game really seems to think it is. In fact, the nudity mostly comes across as pretty benign and uninteresting.
Apart from all that polygonal bumping and grinding and what have you, Magna Cum Laude is a pretty good-looking game. Larry's character model shows a lot of detail, as do many of the featured characters in the game. The surrounding environments, like Larry's school campus or the streets of the rough part of town, are all appropriately exaggerated-looking, giving the game sort of a cartoonish feel. The game also features a lot of subtle bits of visual hilarity that you'll have to explore to find, like a series of sorority house bedrooms featuring the names of all the girls from The Facts of Life and a vending machine near Larry's dorm room that dispenses werewolf repellent, for some inexplicable reason. For the most part, the game performs well enough from a technical perspective, although you will notice some occasional frame rate issues while walking around (more so on the PS2 than on the Xbox), and the camera does have its infrequently annoying moments. Also, during our testing, the PC version occasionally hitched on certain frames, seemingly at random, which was a tad bit distracting when trying to play the rhythm-based games.
Yes, you can see this girl naked...eventually. Whether that's a good thing or not is entirely up to you
We've already raved at length about the solid voice acting, but the acting itself is not the only boon when it comes to the dialogue. The overall sound design provides you a lot of fun opportunities to discover random bits of comedy in strange places. Just walk up to one group of people or another, and launch into some strange and funny conversations that are completely outside of what you're doing. Then you'll know what we mean. The only problem with this is that each time you walk up to a group, the exchange always begins with the same line, and the only time you'll hear a new one is if you stay in that level and walk back to the group a second or third time. If you go elsewhere and have to reload that level, it starts all over again; this can become a little repetitive. The game also features some bizarre licensed music, which, despite consisting of a seemingly ill-fitting roster of artists--like 2 Live Crew, MÂ’tley CrÂ’e, and Right Said Fred--somehow just works in the context of the game.
When it comes right down to it, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is not a recommendable "game," per se, so much as it is a recommendable experience. The game portions found here are largely insignificant and are actually pretty uninteresting as a whole, but the comedically brilliant story, characters, and dialogue, as well as the clever and profane tone of it all, really do make this a game worth playing through for anybody who enjoys a particularly adult brand of humor. Should you go out and pay full price for the console versions? No, probably not. However, Magna Cum Laude is perfectly suited for rental purposes, because it's exactly the kind of game you will greatly appreciate the first time through.