Back to the Future '4,' now playing on your PC
Eric Franklin's impression of the recently released Back to the Future: The Game: Episode One on the PC.
Editors' note: Yes, Episode 1 of Back to the Future: The Game was released more than two weeks ago and yes, this is our first attempt at coverage. Send your complaints to the holiday break and CES. We'll make sure coverage (if any) of the subsequent episodes is more timely.
Collectively I've probably seen the "Back to the Future" movies more than 100 times. The first movie especially, was a seminal film for me and captured my imagination like no other before it. Thanks to HBO, which showed it literally twice daily during the summer of 1986, I developed what can only be described as an addiction to it.
Though parts 2 and 3 didn't have quite the same effect on me, I love them both still, warts and all. Since the release of Part 3, there have been a few attempts at expanding the "Back to the Future" universe--I'm still trying to forget the Saturday morning cartoon--but all have failed to capture the magic of the movies.
Back to the Future: The Game (BTTF) feels like it belongs in this universe, like it's a continuation of the storyline that ended after Doc Brown took off in his flying hell train of death. This is probably the closest we'll ever come to a Back to the Future 4, and I'm completely fine with that.
Within seconds upon my first launch of the game, it was already playing my nostalgic heartstrings masterfully, using the iconic piano chime that starts both parts 2 and 3.
From a gameplay perspective, BTTF is an adventure game in the vein of classic Lucasarts adventures like the Monkey Island series. The game begins with a scene that fans of the movies will immediately recognize; Doc Brown's first demonstration to Marty of the time machine, and while I won't spoil what happens next, let's just say things don't quite go the way they did originally.
These events set Marty (the player) off on an adventure that takes him to Hill Valley, 1931, with Doc Brown's life at stake.
The puzzles aren't as zany as some of the old Lucasarts ones and feel somewhat more logical. As a result, the puzzles are in general, fairly easy; however, there were a couple that compelled me to use the game's great built-in hint system. The hint system gives you progressively more straightforward hints each time you use it. The last tier, basically spelling out "give X to Y, to get desired result". A great tool for those who just want to fly through to get the story.
Graphically, the game has a stylized art style that takes some getting used to, but I've come to love it over my 3 hours or so with this first episode. Christopher Lloyd returns to voice Doc Brown (and possibly one other character) and A.J. LoCasio takes on voice of Marty McFly, delivering an incredibly accurate impression.
Controls also took some getting used to and were more than a little frustrating especially during scenes where the camera angle changes constantly. Luckily, Marty will beeline to areas of interest when you click on them.
This first of five episodes can be finished within about three to four hours, and for $24.99 you get all five episodes to be released over the next few months. There's not a lot a lot of replay value here, but that's par for the course with games of this genre.
As I insinuated before, I absolutely love this world and its characters. BTTF builds on that established lore without besmirching it. Fans of the series should not hesitate to buy this. If you're not a fan--well, come on. Who's not a fan?