Back to the Future: The Game - Episode One - User Reviews - www.GameInformer.com
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Back to the Future: The Game - Episode One

If you're like me, you're familiar with the Back to the Future trilogy.  If not, you should definitely watch the movies.  Like, right now.  Stop reading this review and watch them, then come back and read this review on Telltale's great visioning of what happens after the movies leave off.  The story is broken up into five episodes, and available on PC, Mac, iPad, and PS3.  For this review, I played the PC version.

Episode 1, called "It's About Time" starts with a recap of the events of October 25, 1985, in which Emmett "Doc" Brown and Marty McFly test out Doc's newest invention, a time machine made out of a DeLorean.  Afterward, it is revealed that it is 1986, and Doc Brown has been missing for quite some time, as his possessions are being auctioned off by the bank.  Marty, saddened by the loss of his friend and seeing his belongings being taken away, is surprised when the DeLorean returns suddenly, with only Einstein, Doc's dog, and a tape recording of Doc in the time machine.  After a bit of searching, Marty discovers that Doc is trapped in 1931 Hill Valley, and will be killed after being suspected of blowing up a speakeasy.  Marty travels back to 1931, and with the help of 1931 Emmett, saves Doc.

1931 Hill Valley is an interesting setting for the game, as Prohibition has made the sale of liquor in Hill Valley illegal.  1931 Emmett is a clerk at his father's law offices, who yearns to become a scientist rather than follow in his father's footsteps.  Marty meets Edna Strickland (Vice Principal Strickland's older sister) early in the game, an elderly woman who likes to keep her possessions, including every issue of The Hill Valley Times newspaper, in perfect order.  When he goes back to 1931, however, it's revealed she's a newspaper reporter for the same publication.  Marty also runs into Arthur McFly, his grandfather, who is working for the gangster Kid Tannen, possibly Biff's father.

The main appeal of Back to the Future: The Game is the story, voice acting, and music.  The story, while only 1/5th of the total experience, is feature film caliber and could easily have been an animated movie released in theaters.  Christopher Lloyd reprises his role as Doc Brown, which is a treat to hear after 20+ years, and Michael J. Fox, unable to perform the role of Marty, is flawlessly replaced by AJ LoCascio, a newcomer actor.  The voice acting is nearly indistinguishable from Michael to AJ, and even Christopher Lloyd had said when hearing AJ's audition for Marty, thought at first it was actually Fox doing the voice.  Despite the two main characters being excellently voiced, it's a bit disappointing not to hear Thomas F. Wilson as Biff or Kid Tannen.  The music is all familiar, straight from the movies, and any fan of the original movies will be nostalgic in seconds.

The game is a standard point-and-click adventure, with Marty able to interact with his surroundings using the mouse.  Conversations with others are handled through a series of topics Marty can choose from, not unlike Marvel Ultimate Alliance or the Ace Attorney games.  Marty can always check his inventory, and can select various items to use on specific places in the environment.  Making progress in the game requires Marty to solve puzzles, most often causing  a character to become distracted, then performing a series of actions to achieve the goal.  There's also a hint system, allowing you to check for clues as to how to solve a particular puzzle.  Also at any time you can check the current objective and read up on the story so far, in case it's been a while since you played last or you've simply forgotten.

Control can be fussy, especially in a hurry, like when Marty is in the middle of trying to solve a puzzle and time is of the essence.  By moving the mouse, you move the cursor, as you'd expect, and traversing through the environment is done by holding down the left button, which isn't exactly the most responsive.  It especially gets annoying whenever the camera switches perspectives, and you're suddenly traveling in a different direction because of the way you're holding the mouse.  Interacting with others is also the left button, so if you're trying to walk and talk to someone who's moving, you have to stop yourself, and then try to get the cursor onto the person before they walk offscreen.  It wouldn't be that much of the problem, but when the game is in motion, the cursor can lag behind and you'll inevitably miss your mark more than once.  The visuals are stunning, with lots of details in textures and a crisp look to the whole game.  Likenesses of both Marty and Doc are excellent, and other characters are well defined.  At times, the audio isn't in sync with the video, and occasionally the game can lag, but it doesn't last long and quickly corrects itself. 

Episode 1 is an amazing story about a forgotten franchise and the characters we've grown to love from the silver screen.  It ties in very well with the movies, and could easily stand alone as an entry in the franchise, although I'd of course like to see the conclusion after the other four parts.  The game entices you with its bits of nostalgia, and keeps you entertained with the progression of the story, characters, and events of 1931, and when the episode finishes, you'll be anxious to find out what happens next, much like the movies.  For any fan of Back to the Future, this is certainly worth your time, and the few flaws in visuals and controls are more than excusable for this chance to revisit Hill Valley and to go back to the future.

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