If you were a gamer during the 90s then you probably know all about Lucas Arts. Founded in 1982 by George Lucas himself, they went on to become a celebrated developer of point and click adventure games during the following decade. While defunct now, it’s undeniable that the company left a mark on the industry. But do their earlier games hold up? Will a modern audience take to them in the same way previous generations did? Full Throttle Remastered was released by Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Productions.
We Ride Together
Full Throttle is steeped in biker culture. In the year 2040 and flying vehicles are taking over. The story opens with elderly motorcycle mogul, Malcolm Corley on his way to a shareholders meeting when he is overtaken by the Polecats, the motorcycle gang you play as the leader of, the enigmatic Ben. Things unfold swiftly from there and it’s not long before you’ve been framed for murder and are out to clear your name. The story moves at breakneck speed but that’s definitely a good thing given that this is, in many ways a very silly tale. It makes up for it though, with humour, action and a genuine sense that the developers had a real passion for what they were doing. It’s hard not to like Ben and his gang, despite his grizzled, macho man appearance, he is a surprisingly human and relatable character, and it really is the characters that carry the overall narrative. From Old Man Corley to the wonderfully evil Adrian Ripburger (voiced by Mark Hamill) the cast is more than enough to keep you going right to the end.
There’s a definite sense of rebellion running throughout the game. The evils of the large corporation and their heartless nature are played up at every opportunity and Ben provides the perfect hero for the audience to rally behind. Even if you aren’t all that into bikes, the overall themes will still resonate deeply with the average player. Overall, while the dialogue is occasionally stilted (especially outside of cutscenes) the story is a heavy metal, action-packed thrill ride.
Obtuse By Design
While the story may be timeless, the actual gameplay has not aged quite so well. What you need to bear in mind is that this is a game from a very different time. The developers didn’t have the resources to build a game that was dozens of hours long. They also knew that the intended audience probably wouldn’t be getting new games all that often. This meant that in order to make sure people got the right number of hours out of the experience, Lucas Arts had to make things a little tricky, and not in the way modern gamers are probably used to. The solutions to many of the puzzles are so obscure, you will struggle at times. There are no indicators as to what you need to do next, meaning that you are left to deduce (sometimes very complex) solutions on your own. It never got so bad that I wanted to stop, and the puzzles are usually a lot of fun, but be warned, this game is far from being a breeze. A wiki or walkthrough may prove essential to reaching the finale.
What doesn’t work quite so well is the motorcycle combat. You and your opponent ride alongside each other and try to knock each other off your bikes. All you can do is move side to side and take a swing with one of your weapons (tire irons, chains, planks etc). The problem lies in the execution. It all just feels very clunky and imprecise. Pressing the attack button only occasionally seems to make Ben attack. It doesn’t help that enemy bikers can simply push you up against the side of the road. This means they can take as many swings as they like and there’s nothing you can do about it. These sections simply aren’t very fun.
So the game is pretty good, but most people knew that already. The real question is, is this a good remaster? I would say yes. The graphics have been updated very tastefully and now have a more hand drawn, comic-booky look to them. On the other hand, if you want the old-school experience you can switch back to the classic graphics any time you like with the press of a button. This feature is a nice touch and actually demonstrates how faithfully the original game has been recreated.
The rest of the package is comprised of remastered audio and music, featuring the Gone Jackals, which sounds great. Older fans will be pleased to see that both a commentary track and a concept art browser have been included. Both theses things are nice distractions and further prove that the team behind this game care about what they do. They also really up the game’s overall value. This is by no means a simple reskin, Full Throttle Remastered is well worth the price.
For anyone interested in game design, this is probably the kind of thing you should be looking it. It’s worth the price of admission just to see how things have changed over the years. Full Throttle is certainly a lot of fun, the story, in particular, being a real treat, but it is beginning to show its age on the gameplay side of things. Ill (7.5/10)
Review Copy Provided By Double Fine