|System: PC, PS3|
|Dev: Telltale Games|
|Pub: Telltale Games|
|Release: December 22, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
And so the story begins, with a colorful cast of characters, many of whom tie into the series' overall lore. There's Kid Tannen, a ruthless gangster who's presumably an ancestor of the bully Biff, and Kid's employee Arthur McFly, who's Marty's weak-willed grandfather. There's also Edna Strickland, who in 1931 is a plucky newspaper reporter and an organizer for the Stay Sober Society -- and who in 1986 is a relentlessly crabby old woman who spends her day looking out the front window with binoculars, yelling at any "hooligan" who breaks the rules. One of our favorite Edna Strickland exclamations: "Jack and Diane! I know what you're doing behind that tree!"
All of that said, casual gamers (and even hardcore gamers who normally stay away from point-and-click titles) really do need to bear in mind that this kind of experience isn't for everyone. The first episode is only a few hours long, and we tried to avoid using the hint system, but when the gameplay consists of nothing but walking and clicking on items, it's not hard to get bored when things go badly. A few of the solutions are random enough that you probably won't come up with them on your own in a reasonable amount of time without cheating (which we did, we'll confess). One puzzle involving Edna and a keg of "soup" (that's actually bootleg alcohol) was particularly annoying, because one of the dialogue trees changes unexpectedly.
Also, hardcore gamers who aren't familiar with Telltale's work might find the graphics and controls a little retro. Everything runs smoothly, with carefully constructed models and polished environments, but there's not much that couldn't have been done a console generation or two ago. The facial animations in particular leave something to be desired; someone at Telltale really needs to figure out how to make lips move in time with the voice acting. In addition, the controls feel a little clunky, especially when the camera changes angles.
Back to the Future: The Game is bound to create a divided response from gamers and critics. Telltale Games' legions of fans have every reason to fall in love with it, because it's a cross between the developer's trademark point-and-click gameplay and the excellent story of the Back to the Future series. Back to the Future regulars, however, may find themselves more bored than entertained when it comes to the puzzles.
CCC Freelance Writer