Full Throttle Remastered Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Adventure
 
Release Date: Out Now
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/5


 

Positives


-Clean, attractive HD upgrade
-Gone Jackals' soundtrack
-Ben's character and no-nonsense style
-Some really funny lines

Negatives


-Puzzle design and FMV sequences have not aged well
-Brief length and underdeveloped world


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Posted May 6, 2017 by

 
Full Article
 
 

The LucasArts Archives. That was my introduction to point-and-click adventure games as a wee lad back in the 1990’s – a collection of some of the now-defunct studio’s best work, including Indiana Jones and the Fate of AtlantisSam & Max Hit the Road and Day of the Tentacle. But in that same pack was a sampler demo disc, with my first look at Full Throttle, by far the most cinematic game I’d seen from LucasArts yet. Despite later getting the game and finishing it in full, my real memories of the game are of playing that demo over and over again.

Please forgive the nostalgic waffling, but then again its that same nostalgia that Full Throttle Remastered is banking on. While many other LucasArts titles have received a similar HD upgrade, from The Secret of Monkey Island to Day of the Tentacle, they could be considered more seminal titles, big leaps forward in the adventure game genre that introduced or refined mechanics to a high degree. By comparison, Full Throttle on its release was more experimental, throwing together point-and-click adventure puzzles with on-rails motorcycle fights, mixing pre-rendered FMVs with traditional pixel animation. It’s a fan-favourite, rather than a true classic, and after playing Full Throttle Remastered I’m not convinced it completely holds up today. However, the upgrade is still well done, and a worthy preservation for the title to find future fans.

Full Throttle was Tim Schafer’s ode to rock, asphalt, leather and awesome hogs long before he would go on to make Brutal Legend. There are the makings of a really cool world in Full Throttle, even if we don’t get the chance to see much of it. In the future, where hover cars have taken over as the primary method of transport, real bikes are a rare breed, with Corley Motors the last motorcycle manufacturer in the country. While some biker gangs, like the Polecats, keep the spirit of traditional bikies alive, other gangs have become straight-up thugs, or splintered into bizarre Mad Max-style factions like the Cavefish – who worship and deify their best riders.

Ben, the leader of the Polecats, finds himself stuck in the middle of a heap of trouble when Corley’s Vice President, Ripburger (an appropriately slimey Mark Hamill performance) beats and throws him in a dumpster, while hiring his gang to escort the elderly CEO to a shareholder’s meeting. There’s obviously something fishy afoot, as Ben fights to save his crew from whatever set-up they’ve been lured into, while seeking assistance from mysterious mechanic Maureen, who’s obviously more than she appears. There’s motorcycle fights, big explosions, corporate machinations and some really clever dialogue from Schafer, with a nice line in humour throughout the adventure.

Full Throttle feels more cinematic than any of the adventure games LucasArts had made previously, and that’s not just due to the heavy use of pre-rendered 3D graphics (which look a little odd now, but were impressive and really cool at the time). The story, while simple, feels like an interactive movie in motion, and the entire game lasts about as long as one as well, clocking in at around 2-3 hours depending on how easy you find the puzzles. While it does feel cinematic, it also means that this strange future world, full of potential, is relatively unexplored outside of three self-contained areas, one of which is essentially a long stretch of road.

The presentation overhaul that Full Throttle Remastered brings to the game is definitely cleaner, more vibrant and more cohesive, but it does take a little away from that cinematic element the old game had. Back in the day, it felt like a game trying to be a movie, through high-quality animation and 3D models mushed together. Now, it feels like a cartoon-styled adventure game, which is a more consistent and overall attractive presentation, even if it gives a different vibe. Luckily, you can switch between the the original and new graphics with the press of a button, although the new presentation comes with much cleaner voice and music – especially enjoyable given the excellent soundtrack by The Gone Jackals, and strong voicework from Roy Conrad as Ben, and Mark Hamill as the sinister Ripburger.

Puzzles in Full Throttle range from straight-forward to frustrating. Full Throttle’s problems don’t stem necessarily from pixel hunting or being too difficult, but just being unclear and vague on what you’re supposed to do. Without a walkthrough, you’ll likely be stumped at several parts of the game, not realising you’re meant to stand in a certain place, or use a certain item at a certain time to advance. A famous puzzle that’s haunted players for decades in Full Throttle requires you to hit a certain part of a wall, but it’s almost guaranteed that if you don’t clue into the single vague hint, you’ll be stuck kicking every inch of that damn wall for a very long time. And yes, the controls for the demolition derby still suck.

The best gameplay mechanic is Ben’s action wheel, which allows you to use your hands, feet, eyes or mouth on any object – which is more useful than you might think. Using your mouth might let you talk to a character, or suck petrol from a hose, while often the answer to a locked door is to simply beat it down with your foot. The direct approach suits Ben’s character to a tee, and it’s one of the most fun aspects.

The other area where Full Throttle differs from its fellow LucasArts titles is Ben’s motorcycle. It’s only really utilised in the second area of the game, letting you cruise down a section of highway and road in full FMV-glory, slowly swaying from side to side until you come across a rival bikie to battle. Combat is simple, relying mostly on having the right weapon to succeed (thus meaning there’s a certain order you need to defeat opponents in, taking their weapons as you advance), and often devolves into frantic clicking rather than using any clever timing. It feels like a showcase more for the FMV-tech than a cohesive part of the game (you can imagine this mechanic working better if it linked areas in a kind of open-world environment), but it has been faithfully remastered with care.

I still really enjoy Full Throttle, largely due its humour, fun characters and unique setting. However, Full Throttle Remastered, while an admirable restoration of the original, demonstrates that its gameplay has aged over time, while adventure games have moved forward. If it does find new audiences and fans, I think it’ll be through the appeal of its style, rather than its actual gameplay, and honestly the world does seem to invite further exploration if Double Fine ever wanted to make a sequel. Full Throttle Remastered is a brief, but fun sojourn into nostalgia – just be prepared to consult a walkthrough every once in a while.


Adam Ghiggino

 
I'm Rocket Chainsaw's Owner and Executive Editor. When I'm not writing here, I work in TV and on short films, and fight criminal velociraptors.


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