I Thank The Lo-o-ord Each Day For The Apocalypse

HIGH Attacking bikers with a chainsaw…

LOW …Only to realize that it isn’t nearly as cool as I remember it.

WTF Where’s the Sam & Max Hit The Road remaster? Let’s get to the turkey already, shall we?


 

Full Throttle was a first in a variety of ways back in 1995.

Tim Schafer had been toiling away on strange puzzles for LucasArts when crafting classics such as The Secret Of Monkey Island and Day Of The Tentacle, but this was his first title as a team lead. The point-n’-click formula had been successful for the gaming branch of George Lucas’s media empire, but Full Throttle marked the first attempt to modernize the genre with some action-centric gameplay. It also marked the first time SAG actors were ever used in a videogame.

For these reasons (and more) it’s a fondly remembered title and the team at Double Fine have turned in another strong remaster effort reviving it. However, a lot of years have passed since Full Throttle’s debut, and revisiting the game from a modern perspective brings many of its faults to the forefront.

Given the biker motif, it’s easy to compare it to movies like Easy Rider or Mad Max, but Full Throttle really has more in common with a Clint Eastwood western. Our lead, Ben Throttle, is the old cowboy hanging on to his way of life in a rapidly changing society. While at the local saloon, the CEO of the Morley Motor Company and his quite-obviously-evil-from-the-get-go business partner waltz in looking for a motorcade escort to impress investors at the next company meeting. What follows is a trail of deception, mystery, and toy bunnies as Ben rides through Schafer’s romanticized highways of the American west.

While it’s painfully short (clocking in at around six hours, tops) and probably closer to three for an enthusiast of the genre, it still makes a strong impression. As is the case with all of Tim Schafer’s works, it has a beating heart and a level of moxie that most games only dream about. It also has a harder edge compared to something like Day Of The Tentacle — people get murdered, drinks are had, there’s foul language — but it’s able to maintain a cheeky tone and that distinct LucasArts feel, in no small part due to excellent voice work from people like Mark Hamill and the late Roy Conrad.

Full Throttle follows the same template as other recent LucasArts remasters — take the original game, sharpen the art, stretch it to 16:9, remix the audio, streamline the controls, add an insightful/hilarious commentary track with the original creators, and allow players to swap from the new graphics back to its original pixelated glory with the push of a button. It’s been a successful system so far, and it continues to successful here.

Most players will appreciate the new graphics, particularly while cruising down the highway. While the original title features flat, drab, brown outdoor textures, Double Fine brightened up the color palette and added some definition for a far better representation of the open road. However, the part that most benefits is the soundtrack, which now feels extra weighty as the pseudo-rockabilly heavy metal of The Gone Jackals did a good number on the lower levels of my audio system. The game also has the option to play the remixed audio while using the original graphics, which is a nice touch.

While the touch-ups are great, Full Throttle has some unfixable warts that other recent LucasArts remasters don’t have. The game came out in 1995, which was an interesting time in the Adventure landscape — the point-n’-click formula was starting to feel stale for anyone besides the genre’s staunchest supporters, and sales were slipping. In an attempt to spice things up, the team added some vehicular combat. I certainly remember it more fondly than I should have, as the biker duels, while sparse, come off as a lame sections with very little strategy. Hitting an opponent or being hit provides little feedback to the player, and there’s no health bar, so it’s hard to know when the player is dealing damage or taking it.

There’s also a demolition derby segment that is, frankly, horrible in every conceivable way, and is in desperate need of an update. Saying the car controls like a tank would be an insult to tanks, and the way that opponent cars magically line up to be jumped on once the player figures out what to do is contrived. The art in this section definitely didn’t receive the same love the rest of the game did, as the overly-clean and basic models make it look like a Flash game for kids from 2002.

Full Throttle also feels far less dense than its contemporaries in general. There are fewer locations, fewer people to talk to, and the dialogue reflects that too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a Tim Schafer joint, so the script is plenty entertaining and witty, but there’s a severe lack of zingers related to interacting with the environment. In other LucasArts adventure games, when trying something creative (or stupid) like combining a dilapidated boat with a rubber chicken, it was common to experience a line of dialogue that was written for that specific occurrence. In Full Throttle, Ben, simply grunts ‘Nope’ or ‘I don’t want to lick that’ over and over again. Considering the simplicity of the puzzles and environments, there are significantly fewer opportunities for lines like this than there are in other LucasArts games, yet there’s not enough interesting dialogue to cover what’s here.

Despite these issues, I want to definitively state that many aspects of Full Throttle are, in fact, still rad, and the game is completely deserving of the excellent remaster treatment it received. The soundtrack rules, the vocal performances are exceptional thanks to a (mostly) on-point script, it still features what might be the funniest credit roll in the history of the medium, and this new version is the best way to experience it. That said, instead of a ‘remaster’, I think Double Fine should have perhaps gone with a further-retooled ‘Special Edition’ to address some of the dated mechanics in the action sections.

Taking it for what it is today, Full Throttle doesn’t quite stack up to other remastered LucasArts offerings like The Secret of Monkey Island or Grim Fandango. That said, it remains a worthwhile re-release for fans, and I’m happy it’s back to be experienced by a whole new generation. However, that new generation may want to temper their expectations slightly. Rating: 6.5 out of 10

— Jarrod Johnston


 

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Double Fine (originally developed by LucasArts) and is currently available on the PS4, Vita, and Steam. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately four hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer options

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains violence, blood, mild language, and use of tobacco & tobacco. Outside of a somewhat gruesome-looking face after a severe cane whipping, it’s a fairly tame and lighthearted affair despite it’s surly-looking exterior.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles are available, and there are no necessary audio cues in the puzzles that aren’t represented by a visual on-screen, so most gamers should be fine.

Remappable Controls: This game’s controls are not remappable.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options. Anyone who has problems with browns or dark blues could run into serious issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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