Title: Full Throttle Remastered
Available On: PS4, PC
Developer: Double Fine
Genre: Point and Click Adventure
Official Site: Double Fine
Release Date: April 18th, 2017
Where To Buy: PSN Store, Steam
As a huge fan of the Lucasarts era, the fact that Full Throttle evaded me is a mystery. Thankfully the delightful people at Double Fine have given the revered adventure game the same treatment as Day of The Tentacle and Grim Fandango bringing the 90’s biker tale to PC and PlayStation 4. Having the chance to play a remaster of Full Throttle without having tasted the vanilla version is an opportunity for me that does not arise too often. So how does Full Throttle compare to its siblings? It delivers an interesting tale, an awesome soundtrack and great voice acting, however, the puzzles feel tamer and as such, the final credits arrive too soon. Full Throttle is a great introduction to the genre but for veteran point and clickers like myself, I was left wanting more.
Full Throttle is set in the not too distant future where the industrial motor business is dying and flying limousines represent the future. This is bad news for the protagonist Ben who is the leader of a motorcycle club, The Polecats. The charm of the point and click adventure game is the flexibility allowed within the narrative and Full Throttle embraces this. The absurd and niche story would struggle to be welcomed in any other genre but here, there are no boundaries. The fundamentals binding the genre are the mechanics and Full Throttle fits the mold perfectly.
We begin the game with an awesome introduction as Ben is cruising down the freeway with heavy rock music accompanying him. After ‘overtaking’ traffic is a non-traditional way, we find The Polecats at their local bar. Financial income is an issue for the club in these tough times and as the group discusses their options, a conveniently timed opportunity arrives. The last remaining motorcycle manufacturer, Corley Motors, is having an emergency shareholders meeting as the CEO has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. Malcolm Corley is a biker at heart and wants the company to keep the biker scene alive. Adrian Ripburger, his assistant, has other plans and wants to hire the club for an escort mission. Skeptical, Ben refuses yet continues the negotiation with Corley’s aide in a back alley. Ben is struck from behind and knocked unconsciousness whilst the rest of the gang are hired and depart, leaving Ben alone in a dumpster.
The first time we get to control Ben, he’s still trapped. After using his brute strength a couple of times, he breaks free and the game begins. You find yourself in familiar territory with an empty inventory and nothing more than your curiosity to start the adventure. Full Throttle harnesses the more familiar HUD we expect in games today. Gone are the many verbs lingering at the bottom of the screen and instead we have an entire view of the environment. Clicking on an interactive object brings up a graphic which allows the player to lick, look, kick and grab. Yes… Lick is one of the options and although Ben will refuse to lick most objects or people, it will come to use later in the game. Holding shift will highlight points of interest on the screen which helps to evaluate your options but reliance on this mechanic will have you missing intricate details or paths to follow.
The streamlined actions are understandable but can make puzzle solving simple. Your inventory never becomes too overwhelming which limits the number of possible solutions at your disposal. One early example of this is a locked door to the bar where I fully expected to create a contraption to gain access. All I needed to do was just kick the door. It makes sense in hindsight but my past experience told me that common sense is not usually the answer. Puzzles in Full Throttle, dare I say it, are easy… There was only one time I found myself stuck and after becoming experimental with some mechanical bunny rabbits, I solved the problem in a couple of minutes.
Full Throttle feels the most grounded out of the Lucasarts games. The premise is heartfelt and relatable with an evolving world making the older generation feel neglected and forgotten. The characters here are gritty with real issues which bring less wacky dialogue but humor all the same. The protagonist is confident and intelligent which is a huge departure from Guybrush Threepwood or Bernard Bernoulli from previous titles. Ben is rather menacing with his large stature which offers opportunities which were not available previously such as grabbing a bartenders nose ring and slamming his head into the bar. Supporting characters such as the usurping Adrian Ripburger or the genius mechanic Maureen have a real depth to them with intriguing back stories and plausible motives. Full Throttle is more streamlined than expected and this all culminates into a story of murder, conspiracy, and redemption which is engrossing from start to finish.
The isolated story, although beneficial for dramatic purposes, effects the longevity of Full Throttle. In similar titles, you would find yourself with a wide array of items and just as many locations to explore. Full Throttle never allows access to more than four areas at any one time because you are ushered through the narrative. Combine this with the characters who are wonderfully developed but few and far between and the game seems extremely short. After a couple of hours playing, I saved my game to take a break and was shocked to see that the completion rate was nearly at 50%.
The biggest strength of Full Throttle is the idea of being part of a biker club. Oddly, after you are accidental left behind by The Polecats gang, you never spend any considerable time with them which is a missed opportunity. One of the best conversations in the game occurs between Ben and the now retired leader of The Polecats. There is a brotherly respect between the two and the idea that the club is their lives shines through the dialogue yet these moments are far and few between. Rival gangs exist in the world and sound intimidating from their descriptions but sadly this concept is not expanded upon. In the second half of the game, you combat other bikers from rival gangs Road Rash style but it is little more than swinging your weapon at them. Technical issues would cause some serious slow down during these segments which made the timing, which is essential for victory, irrelevant. A humorous nod to Star Wars does exist here with one gang strongly resembling Tusken Raiders and this is not the only reference to be found to the galaxy far, far away.
Although Full Throttle feels different from its lineage, for better or worse, the characters are as good as ever. Aside from Ben, the two other leads maintain the momentum and tension of the story. Maureen is a strong, intelligent female in a male dominated world. She is smarter and more practical than those around her whilst still remaining charming and compassionate. Adrian, on the other hand, is sadistic and selfish. He is a brilliant antagonist with a direct agenda to take control of the Corley Motors business. Full Throttle was the first Lucasarts game to feature out of office voice acting and the performances add to the great scripting. Mark Hamill, Roy Conrad, and Kath Soucie lead the cast and the audio recordings have been nicely refined for the remastered version. Aside from the voice acting, what would a biker game be without an appropriate soundtrack? Full Throttle delivers from the start with heavy rock music accompanying Ben as he rides. Full Throttle uses licensed music to full effect throughout the entire game.
Alongside the audio, the graphics have also been shown some love. Although the design choices remain the same, the pixelated animations of the past have been polished. Ben, in particular, looks more defined with his distinguishable facial hair and the back of his leather jacket bearing the now viewable, Polecats emblem. Jumping between the original graphics on the fly is always a nice feature which I would find myself taking advantage of in every new location. One issue of the graphics refinement is the lip syncing as they do nothing to resemble the words being spoken. It is a shame that the clever writing and great voicing make it more apparent.
One last treat that comes with the remaster of Full Throttle is the audio commentary. Tim Schafer is one of the more vocal personalities in the gaming industry and wittiest too. Hearing him and the team discuss each scene of the game is not only amusing but educational. Learning the constraints of the time, the rationale for making decisions and their inspirations is incredibly interesting. As I entered a new area, my routine was to hear what the developers had to say before I proceeded. A minor frustrating aspect about this feature was the overlap when cutscenes began. The team would talk over the dialogue of the game and there was no way to pause either so I would have to turn the feature off, missing out on some valuable insight.
I’m not sure if nostalgia has been my undoing when playing the remastered version of Full Throttle. Do I hold games such as Monkey Island or Day of The Tentacle in such high esteem because I have fond memories of them? Either way, Full Throttle is still a thrilling and enthralling experience. It may be shorter that I would have liked and possibly the puzzles could have been trickier, however, the story and characters more than make up for this. What may be disappointing qualities to me could actually make the game more accessible to newcomers, starting them on a journey into a genre they may have otherwise shied away from.
- Gameplay: Point, Click, Have Fun
- Graphics: True To Original With Added Polish
- Sound: Awesome Soundtrack and Vocal Performances
- Presentation: Lip Sync Apparent and Technical Issues
- Gritty, Grounded Story
- Relatable Characters
- Soundtrack, Voice Acting
- Puzzles Too Easy
- Too Short
- Bike Combat