Game review: Full Throttle Remastered revs up another LucasArts adventure

Full Throttle Remastered (PS4) – highway to adventure

Another classic LucasArts point ‘n’ click adventure game gets the remaster treatment on PS4, but did it really need it?

We’ve moved our position several times when it comes to the past and future of graphic adventures. Like many we have nothing but fond memories of the classic era LucasArts games, and have enjoyed the various remasters as they’ve been released. But especially when it came to Grim Fandango, we started to resent the convoluted puzzles that got in the way of the story and characters. We then began to see the logic in why creator Tim Schafer all but removed them in the otherwise disappointing Broken Age.

And yet the recent Thimbleweed Park – the best new adventure in years, if not decades – has convinced us that puzzles really are the backbone of the genre. And playing Full Throttle again only reinforces that thought, because it doesn’t really have any.

Full Throttle was always an unusual entry in the LucasArts pantheon. Launched in 1995, it was the first adventure to be released only on CD-ROM, at a time when the popularity of the genre was beginning to wane. There was concern that the complex puzzle-solving and lack of action was becoming too niche, while the cost of making the games was rapidly increasing. Full Throttle approached the problem head on, swapping the usual nebbish protagonist for a rough biker who solves most of his problems with his fists.

Full Throttle is set in a vaguely sketched future world that’s not a full-on dystopia and hasn’t quite got as bad as Mad Max, but seems to be stuck somewhere in-between. You play the role of Ben, the leader of a biker gang who is framed for murder and gets roped into a conspiracy involving the last American company still making old school, non-anti-gravity, motorcycles.

The plot really is as slim as we’ve just tried to make it sound, which always seemed like a mistake for a game that is still fundamentally all about the story. Thanks to Tim Schafer’s typically excellent dialogue the characters are thankfully a lot more compelling, including Ben himself, his spunky female foil Maureen, and a corporate weasel voiced by Mark ‘Luke Skywalker’ Hamill. But many of the characters, even Hamill’s villain, have surprisingly little screen time, and it’s hard to tell whether their parts were cut down or just underwritten from the start.

We suspect the former as there’s an overwhelming sense that the game was meant to be something far more epic and grand, but there just wasn’t the time or money. So instead the decision was made, probably sensibly, to make it shorter but with the highest production values possible. And to this day the game looks and sounds great. The voiceovers and licensed soundtrack are as good as anything released today, and the original pixel artwork Is incredibly good. So much so that the actual remaster is a complete waste of time and we turned it off very quickly because it ended up looking like a cheap Flash animation.

Full Throttle Remastered (PS4) - the new visuals are pretty bland

Full Throttle Remastered (PS4) – the new visuals are pretty bland

We’ve already intimated that Full Throttle doesn’t have much in the way of puzzles, but that’s not strictly true. There are very few difficult ones, but a lot of the minute-to-minute gameplay involves knocking down doors, tempting guard dogs out of the way with lumps of meat, and other non-brain-straining activities. Except for the times when the game manages to hide an interactive object behind a piece of scenery this is fine, but it means you breeze through the entire story without ever really feeling you’ve done anything.

The ending arrives shockingly fast, and seemingly out of blue, which is an indictment of both the storytelling and the perilously short running time. Especially when the mere five or so hours the game lasts is padded out with some terrible sub-Road Rash action scenes, which were awful even at the time and can thankfully just be skipped entirely.

We’re not sure if there’ll be any more LucasArts remasters now, as the only other one that Tim Schafer had any involvement with was The Curse Of Monkey Island. His role in that was minor though and the game’s animated characters would likely be very difficult to redo. He didn’t work on the likes of Loom or the Indiana Jones games, so they in particular are probably going to stay as they are. Which is a shame, as they’re much better games than this. And yet despite its problems it has been fun to revisit Full Throttle, but it’s as much an evolutionary dead end now as it was in 1995.

Full Throttle Remastered

In Short: The one LucasArts game that didn’t need a remaster gets one anyway, but it can’t do anything for the game’s brevity or lack of challenge.

Pros: Gorgeous pixel art work, great soundtrack, and excellent script and dialogue.

Cons: The actual story is paper thin, with an ending that comes out of nowhere. Very short, with simplistic puzzles. Awful action sequences and lots of wasted characters.

Score: 6/10

Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PC, and PS Vita
Price: £11.99
Publisher: Double Fine
Developer: Double Fine
Release Date: 18th April 2017
Age Rating: 16

Email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk, leave a comment below, and follow us on Twitter

Click here to Read from the source