Big Brother is watching you
The problem with reviewing episodic games is that they tend to have exactly the same game mechanics and features as the last episode.
Three episodes in, Back To The Future from Telltale feels the same, looks the same and acts the same as the last two episodes before it. But this is a series which focuses on story as much as how the game looks, sounds or controls and this is where Episode 3 differs.
It's sort of jarring at first. After the first two games, you'd be forgiven for falling off your seat when Marty returns home to Hill Valley in 1986. It may be the same town in name, but everything else has changed, and none more-so than Doctor Emmett Brown, now Citizen Brown and certainly not on Marty's side.
The world is a pastiche of Orwell's 1984, with a gentle nod to other literary classics that focus on an obedient society under a carefully maintained regime. Everything you know in Hill Valley is still there, just altered enough to make it seem eerily menacing. The unfamiliar feeling in a town made familiar by the last two games succeeds in creating a wonderful atmosphere to play out the latest part of the story. Playing as Marty, you don't know who to trust or where to turn at first until things play out and characters show their true colours.
The storyline in general is excellently crafted and a nice break from the light and breezy jokes so prevalent in the previous two games. That said, I found myself missing the camaraderie of the Marty and Doc double act at times. There are also hints of the overall story arc gaining new strands in order to ensure that Episodes 4 and 5 are going to be exciting and unpredictable.
Backing up the story are the great animated likenesses of the characters, the locations so familiar to fans of the films and the excellent voice acting from Christopher Lloyd and A.J. LoCascio. Add in Claudia Wells (Marty's girlfriend Jennifer in the movies) and some great supporting voice cast too and you have some of the best production values seen on the device.
For those who haven't sampled the first two episodes, Back To The Future Episode 3 will be difficult to get into. Though the stories are all somewhat self contained, references to past events and subtle story strands are all much easier to grasp if you've played through the games in order.
The technical difficulties that plagued the last two games are also found in Episode 3. For first generation iPad owners this means constant stuttering of action and even occasional freezes. Ipad 2 owners will hardly notice the odd glitch though, but it's still a shame that Telltale can't iron out the issues with the older hardware. These aside, the game is just as easy to play with intuitive inventory items and a good system for spotting helpful items. The movement still involves a virtual stick rather than the more logical point and click method, but it's workable.
But as a self confessed Back To The Future fan, this episode has been a great ride through some slightly unfamiliar territory. The ending might leave you wanting Episode 4 in a hurry, however. As usual, it's a must for ipad owning fans of the movies.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 10
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 7
Page 1 of 1