Tuesday, April 24, 2012

OUTATIME Review

The final episode of Back to the Future: The Game ties the season together with a visit to multiple time periods and the addition of Michael J. Fox to the voice cast.  It's certainly the most ambitious episode to date, and, for the most part, it does live up to it's potential.

This game starts off in 1931 in Emmett's lab. By this point, 1931 is feeling pretty redundant, but Telltale manages to mix things up a bit as we finally get to see the science fair inside of Hill Valley high school.  The science fair contains some retro-views of the future, including a house with sliding glass walls, and a home with 1930's views of "futuristic" objects, including a nice tongue-in-cheek reference to one of the objects from the 2015 future seen in Back to the Future Part II.

The puzzles in this scene are among the most fun I've had during the entire run of the series.  There's a puzzle in particular involving young Emmett that is kind of an anti-puzzle.  I can't say more without giving anything away, but it was nice to see Telltale thinking out-of-the box on their puzzle design.  The voice acting in this scene also shines, especially the parts where Marty and the older Emmett have to attempt to mock the voices of other characters.  Both Christopher Lloyd and AJ Locascio did a great job here.  They both managed to sound like their characters imitating other characters, which isn't an easy task to accomplish.

The game really gets going after the science fair is over. It's hard to say what happens without giving anything away, but we finally get to see a timeline change happening around Marty and Doc.  As I mentioned before, Telltale managed to get Michael J. Fox to voice a character in the game, and he has a large part in helping Marty and Doc as they attempt to find out why the timeline had changed.  It's great to see Michael J. Fox back in a Back to the Future production, and hearing Michael J Fox and AJ Locascio together really drives home just how good AJ's Marty really is.

There are three time jumps after this, one of which involves a character that was introduced in Back to the Future: The Animated Series.  It's great to see Telltale give a nod of the hat to the show.  It's even better that they managed to handle the character in a way that isn't as over-the-top as the cartoon, and actually feels like he could have fit into the films.  Despite his short appearance in only one scene in this final episode, he's actually one of my favorite characters in the entire game.  If Telltale does another season, it would be great to see more of him, but what we received here was certainly worthwhile.

The best part of the game comes in the final puzzle, which is the best final puzzle in the season.  It's well thought out, the puzzles are entertaining, it incorporates something fans have been asking for, and it feels cinematic enough that it would have easily worked in the films.  The musical score here is also excellent, further giving the scene it's cinematic feel.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again.  The music in this game really shines.  Jared Emerson-Johnson and Bay Area Sound managed to blend the film's score with new music seamlessly throughout the entire season, and this episode was certainly no different.

I do have to point out though, that the bugs that have been present in every episode this season are still here.  I experienced bugs that have plagued previous episodes, such as the bug that causes Marty to be called the wrong name.  The bugs aren't that bad though, but they're noticeable enough to detract you from the story, which is a shame since this episode is really well done otherwise.

OUTATIME is easily the best episode out of the series.  It has plenty of time travel, incorporates things that fans have requested, and the voice and musical score really shines here.  Best of all, Michael J Fox has joined the cast for the finale.  As with every episode in Back to the Future: The Game, unfortunately, the episode is marred a bit by bugs.  The ending is also not for everyone.  It's a bit too cartoony, and it took me a while to warm up to it.  That being said, it's certainly a fitting ending to the season, which has overall been an average gaming experience, but above average in the story, art, and sound departments.  I definitely would not mind a second season.

Update: 12/1/15: Since I wrote this review, a remaster called the 30th Anniversary Edition has been released. The improved textures aren't really that noticeable, however they also managed to get Tom Wilson to reprise his role as Biff.  Having Tom Wilson as Biff really helps to add to the authenticity, so if you want to play the game, it's worth picking up the remaster if possible. If you've already played it, it's not really worth picking up again, unless you're a big Back to the Future fan.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

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