Monday, March 28, 2011

It's About Time

Back to the Future: The GameIn case you were wondering what prompted my latest rewatching of Back to the Future, it was my having bought the new Back to the Future: The Game on the PS3.

Initially, I was unsure about this game. Yes it was made by TellTale, who seem to have the art of Adventure Game down to a science (after Sam and Max and Monkey Island). But still, it was a game based on a movie franchise, and those rarely live up to the source material.

Though this one was helped that it didn't try to recreate the movie (aside from a few great beginning scenes). It's not based off of any one movie (that'd been done to death), instead it was a new story taking place after the events of the films.

Two time periods are visited: 1986 and 1931. Same characters still, you have to deal with the bully Biff in 1986, and then his incarnation in 1931. Similar plot lines: Marty discovers something is wrong in 1986, and gets pulled into another adventure to find Doc Brown. Same Hill Valley even; part of the charm of the original films was only slightly changing the town to fit the timeline. Here, nothing changed from the Clocktower down to the local haunt on the corner, only 1931 that "local haunt' is now a soup kitchen. This is how Back to the Future gets you: things are different yet eerily similar. It's the same feeling of nostalgia one gets when they visit somewhere from their past only to realize all the small ways it changed.

Next, they managed to reach that good level of fan service seen in the sequels, while maintaining new story. So you're not surprised to first meet Arthur McFly (1931's George) in the soup kitchen, or to see Kid Tannen (1931's Biff) kick him out with the standard "I thought I told you never to come in here" line. This time though, Kid Tannen is Hill Valley's Al Capone, and Arthur is his accountant. And 1931 isn't far enough away to escape from the standard characters: Doc Brown is there twice, as himself from 1986 and a teenager version from 1931. Now you've got a story set up for standard Back to the Future mayhem.

Overall, this game was great. A new story, with the same feel and same characters as the movies. The voice acting is superb: Christopher Lloyd returns, and A.J. Locascio manages to sound exactly like a young Michael J. Fox, enough so to fool anyone who didn't know better. The only downside was some control issues and framerate drops. The latter was survivable, but the former becomes a major pain when running back and forth through areas, adjusting to the camera only to find out apparently the controls didn't want you to (if you play it you'll know what I mean). These are small hiccups though in the overall game, and the story and fun of it will most likely keep you going (it did for me).

Of course, all of this is only about the first episode "It's About Time", as TellTale likes to release episodically. The second, "Get Tannen!", releases tomorrow on the PS3. If they can maintain the quality, or even improve it control-wise, then this game will go on to be one of my favorites.

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