Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A Full Throttle review, yesterday

Okay, not yesterday, more like some time around the end of June 2005, when I'd come to the UK to seek work in the games industry. I also have a Monkey Island mini-review, but that one's crap so you're just getting this :-P. Anyhoo, original text follows [with 1 fix by my modern self]. Be kind [or rip me to shreds; you know I'd do it to you! :-P]

Full Throttle, a phrase denoting the extreme straining of one's brain when playing a LucasArts adventure...

   Ok, only kidding, though I did find myself in a unique situation this weekend. Having only just bought a laptop after entering the country, I decided I needed something to play on it. Dragging my feet around PC World, I realized that FPS-play on a touch pad, while an interesting experience, might be problematic. So, I was about to leave when I spotted: “Full Throttle: A Heavy Metal Adventure”, and realized it was one of few LucasArts classics that I hadn’t yet played.

   Now I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to the Internet; and it’s a terrible habit! I play a game for an hour or two; get stuck; log on, and download the walkthrough… or better yet, I check the walkthrough online and don’t save it to my hard drive, thus convincing myself that I’m holding out just that little bit longer. After being annoyed for getting stuck, I then find myself annoyed that the answer was so obvious!

   Well, this weekend I was in a bit of a pickle. No Internet access on my laptop. Would I be camping outside some cyber café in the early hours of the morning, after having sleepless nights of wondering how stupid I must be? Strangely enough: No.

   The game introduces a bleak future where wheeled vehicles have been replaced by the hovering variety and Ben and his gang (The Polecats) are out on the road. Malcolm Corley, the only remaining bike manufacturer, is being subtly threatened by Adrian Ripburger, who aims to take over the company. Surely enough, an “accident” happens, and Ben is blamed for the murder of Mr Corley. Thus begins our adventure to expose the truth and clear Ben’s name.

   Graphics are naturally pixellated by today’s standards, but are detailed and smoothly animated. The old LucasArts interface is replaced by a logo featuring a skull, hand and boot; which appears whenever the left mouse button is clicked and held over an object of interest. This allows you to: Examine (Skull’s eyes), Speak (Skull’s mouth), Push\Punch (Hand), Kick (Boot). Getting to grips with this interface is, needless to say, easy peasy, and the puzzles that follow at the beginning of the game are nothing to tax the grey matter and are mostly perfectly logical.

   Yet one must inevitably get stuck somewhere along the line, and I started getting aggravated and wishing there was an internet connection around to find that walkthrough…, but alas there was none. So I saved the game and turned it off, feeling annoyed. Next day, I turned it on and in a matter of minutes, managed to solve the puzzle. And I was ever so pleased with myself too. Nothing at all like how I would have felt, if I’d have read that walkthrough. And it happened again, and again…..and well you get the picture. I remembered this was how I used to play adventure games and they were much more fun this way. I feel too much emphasis is based on how long it’ll take us to complete games these days or how many endings they’ve got, because if I don’t feel like I’ve had a good time getting there, then what’s the point? I played the game for three days, on and off, and it probably took me 4 or 5 hours overall, but I wanted to play it all over again once it was over! I also finally understood how pissed off everyone was when LucasArts cancelled the sequel.

   So, what are the good and the bad bits about it? Well, it’s got a great interface, great music, great voices, and great graphics (for the time). It also has great action sequences while you’re on your bike, but you have to use your head too, in order to get through the challenges successfully. It’s this balance of story, action and puzzles, which makes Full Throttle a very enjoyable game indeed and helps the replayability factor. It has to be said that it’s probably LucasArts’ shortest adventure though. The only other downside is that the control in the action sequences takes a little getting used to, but it doesn’t mar the enjoyment of the game once you’ve mastered it.

   If you can find it, buy it. And disconnect your PC from the Internet while playing. You’re assured an enjoyable experience, and will start to mourn the loss of adventure gaming as much as I do.

As for myself, I just bought “The Dig”; so wish me luck, and pray there isn’t a cyber café nearby…

P.S. No, there's no score. I hadn't thought of it at the time. While I agree with a lot of opinion that scores are  silly, I think that's partially due to a lack of perspective on behalf of the readers/gaming public. That's a long winded way of saying if I review stuff in the future, I'll probably add a score :-P.

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