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FTG Review: Back to the Future Episode 3: Citizen Brown

"Next time, I'll take the Prius..."

Episode 3 of Telltale Games’ Back to the Future series is here! How does it stack up to the previous two entries? Don’t worry – we’ll get there. Before we begin, I suggest you read my reviews of episodes one and two for reference. OK, let’s get started.

Back to Hill Valley

As far as game mechanics, nothing has changed from the first two games. You still point-and-click to interact with objects, converse with characters from the movie, and solve puzzles. As I said in my earlier reviews, this is just fine for this episodic series.

Unlike the first two entries however, you’ll spend 100% of your time in modern day (1986 in this case) Hill Valley. But it’s not the happy-go-lucky place you left behind in the last episode. Doc is now known as Citizen Brown, and he’s transformed the town into what appears to be a utopia. But for anyone who’s ever seen the movies “Soylent Green” or “A Clockwork Orange”, this seemingly perfect place has something sinister under the surface. For sake of spoilers, I’ll leave the rest for you to discover. As a huge fan of “A Clockwork Orange”, I thoroughly enjoyed the setting.

New Faces, Stories, and Puzzles

As I stated, you’ll be in the era Marty McFly is originally from. This time around, you’ll finally encounter your mother Lorraine, as well as your girlfriend Jennifer Parker. You’ll also encounter Jennifer’s father, who has become one of the town’s oddball cops.

The storyline in this entry is the best of the series so far. As I said, I love “A Clockwork Orange”, so the utopian setting hit home for me. You’ll be interacting with characters you’ve seen before (like Biff, Edna, and George), but you’ll see them all in a new light. Biff is actually a nice guy this time around, Edna is a demerit enforcer, and George is a voyeur (no, seriously).

And of course the game sports plenty of new puzzles, ranging from a simple recollection of facts to some very hands-on tasks. The standout this time around is a guitar duel that plays out similar to the Tannen family brawl from the previous episode.

This is Doc. He is scary.

Singing the Same Praise

I still have all the same complements for the game that I had in my other reviews. The voice acting is still phenomenal; Doc really stands out given his new look. Fans of the movie will still get the fan service they’ve had all along, as more characters from the film make appearances. They’ll also get a kick out of seeing Hill Valley turned into a seemingly upright, albeit secretive, society.

And of course the mechanics are still spot on: the point-and-click is inerrant. The puzzles you’ll encounter are fun as usual, and you won’t ever encounter one that is too difficult to solve.

Only Half the Complaints of Last Time

I had two big complaints in my previous review: I had to set the game to run on low settings, and I kept encountering technical issues. The technical side has been fixed. There were no framerate hitches, no long load times, and no problem with audio/video synch. However, I still had to set the game to its lowest settings for it to run smoothly. While I don’t mind the slightly downgraded look this gives the game, I wish I didn’t have to change the setting every time. Still, I applaud Telltale for fixing at least one of my issues.

No, that's not Judy Nails from Guitar Hero.

In Short…

The game is a blast. This is the best setting and storyline so far, and the additional movie characters are just icing on the fan service cake. The point-and-click mechanics do their job, and the puzzles are still fun to solve. The voice acting is fantastic as expected, and the game looks pretty good despite the lower settings I was forced to use. Telltale also deserves bonus points for fixing the technical issues from the previous entry.

I need to say one last thing before I close out. Yes, the mechanics are great, but after three entries copy-and-paste, I’m ready for a little variety. I know that Telltale’s upcoming Jurassic Park title features quick time events. Why not give us a little taste of that in the next Back to the Future entry? Food for thought.

Regardless, Back to the Future, Episode 3 is a definite must-buy for fans of the movie and the PC series.


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