EMI is a great adventure game with a lot of problems. It was schizophrenically too mindful and not mindful enough of its heritage, some of the puzzles are aggressively obtuse, and the artwork is definitely a mixed bag.
I won't disagree that the game could have benefited from better artists, the technology used notwithstanding, but it's also ignorant not to consider that the team was weighed down by budgetary restraints that were foreign to the CMI team, who had ambitions of making something of the visual caliber of a hand animated feature film, ambitions that were largely nourished.
Granted, Grim is an artistically more pleasing game than EMI with a slightly older version of the same engine, but while the Grim team was able to build the technology they thought would best realize their game's world from the ground up over three years, it's not hard to believe that re-using the Grim engine along with a much more controlled schedule and budget were pre-requisites for Monkey4 being greenlit, despite the vastly different visual requirements of the Monkey Island universe. Throw in the two CD canvas it had to fit on and the whole 640 x 480 maximum resolution thing, and I think the final result acquits itself alright, though it's easily the Monkey Island that dates most rapidly and there are surely some backgrounds that are objectively "...Really?" Would things have turned out better if Bill Tiller had been allowed to be involved in the art direction, as he attempted? I don't know, but we're not looking at a hack job here even if we're looking at a far cry from a gorgeous painting by Tiller or Chan.
I also agree with Gabez's suggestion that EMI is in a better position to gain some retrospective appreciation now that it's no longer The Last Monkey Island Game.
Last edited by Udvarnoky; 08-10-2011 at 09:10 PM.