"I thank Loo-oo-oo-ord each day, for the apocalypse" isn't necessarily the first thing that people remember when they think of Full Throttle. Most people probably remember Ben's first lines "Whenever I smell asphalt, I think of Maureen". At least that's what usually came to my mind before the remastered edition of Full Throttle, as now that brilliant little song, Increased Changes, plays in the opening menu.
It doesn't matter really, what lines come to your mind when you think of Full Throttle. What matters is, that Double Fine, the fine people who also remastered Tim Schafers other Lucasarts title Day of the Tentacle, are back with a remastered version of an old classic. Again, lovingly re-created by using the old background art as well as animations in order to make it possible to offer an old game that had pixelated graphics to old fans and new alike with higher resolution graphics and animations, as well as with newly redone soundtrack as well as cleaned up original voice acting, including Roy Conrads gravelly voice for Ben as well as Mark Hamil as an evil corporate overlord Ripburger and Kath Soucie who's done a ton of voice work in games and cartoons including Star Wars and Futurama, as Maureen who makes Ben think of trouble. And, just like Double Fine did with Day of the Tentacle, there's also a possibility to switch the graphics back to their old pixelated selves if you don't fancy looking at the high-resolution artwork.
The story begins in a limo of all places. Old man Corley is having words with his right-hand man Ripburger, whom he sees as a corporate stooge who doesn't understand the bikers - the main customers of Corley's Motors - like the old man himself does. They are on their way to the shareholders meeting, but they aren't fully ready yet, as they need some bikers so they can ride there with an entourage, or that's what Ripburger thinks at least. And just then a bike jumps over the limo. That's Ben, leader of the polecats, on his way to nowhere, minding no-one's business than his own.
And if Corley wants someone to tag along, it's Ben.
|Old man Corley and Ripburger|
The kickstand is a seedy biker bar along the road. Ben and the Polecats are holed there when Corley kicks in. Meanwhile, Ripburger is scheming: he wants to use the Polecats to his own means, so he too tags along and grabs Ben for a private chat during which the head honcho of the Polecats is rendered unconscious. The ball is rolling now and when Ben wakes up he notices his gang is gone and the adventure finally begins. You play as Ben and if something is obvious it is this: your gang is in danger. The old man might be in danger as well, so you have your work cut out for you.
Oh, I forgot to mention, that Full Throttle is actually a sci-fi game. It's set in future, in an unspecified time. I'd guess you could say it's even a bit post-apocalyptic setting, where all kinds of biker gangs rule the highways with their souped up bikes.
The most important thing first: the remastered version is pretty much 1:1 with the original game. The biggest difference is obviously in the graphics. When you switch between the original and new versions, it's evident that the remastering is, just like with the Day of the Tentacle, as close as it can humanly be. Because of a widescreen support, there's some additional work done at the edges of the screens and so on, but it all blends in pretty perfectly on the original art. Just like in the original, the bikes and other vehicles have been done in 3D graphics and in all honesty, the remastered version manages to blend in the pre-rendered models better than the original did.
|You can switch between the old and new version on the fly. The difference is quite noticeable.|
What goes to the audio side of the remaster, the voice acting is as good as it ever was, with a difference that this time around there's zero compression on it. It is the same original voice acting, remastered from the original tapes. The music has been re-recorded as well, so the old classic now sounds as great as it looks, be it the original music or the hard rock done by the Gone Jackals.
Full Throttle already was using a simplified UI back in the day. Just like with Sam & Max, gone was the verb command menu that used to occupy the bottom part of the screen. Instead, all game screens are fullscreen and the UI was hidden behind an icon menu that popped up with a mouse click, allowing to choose either hand, boot, eyes or mouth in order to do a specific task suited for the icons. Mouth for an example can mean verbs like talk to, taste, suck and so on.
The remastered version adds a possibility to play with a gamepad, which works very well. You still use the cursor and the smart commands, but you can additionally cycle through the inventory with shoulder buttons, which is a good choice as unlike with many other adventure games, the inventory Ben hauls along isn't actually that big and a lot of items can be used in multiple places and puzzles. Right stick moves the cursor around and left stick can be used to jump between hotspots. There's also a hotspot highlight option. I played remastered through with a pad and overall it works as well as it was always intended to be played with one.
|The icon based verb ring. On the original version, it's the same, just a bit more pixelated.|
As this is a 1:1 remaster, all game content is left in, including a couple of segments I never did like that much myself. While most of the game is pretty typical point and click fair, there are some sections which could be described as action scenes. The first one is a motorbike combat puzzle disguised as beat'em up. Ben drives along an old Mine road, which is filled with other bikers. There's items he needs but can only gain by beating up other bikers, so every time you meet a biker you need to beat them off their bikes. To do this you can use either your fist and boots or weapons like a tire iron. You get new weapons from the bikers of which some are more efficient against other specific bikers. So while it seems like a standard combat, you actually need to build up an arsenal in order to find a correct weapon against the bikers. And boy, is it as tedious as it ever was. It's not difficult, it's just boring and feels like it goes on forever despite there's not that many weapons and bikers to combat. In many ways, it feels like filler content for a game that isn't actually very long.
The second part is a demolition derby scene, where in order to proceed you need two specific cars to collide with each other, but you are blocked by Ripburger's men, so you need to find a way to get rid of them. Sadly enough the demolition derby scene is relatively poorly done in both original and in remaster and the driving around just feels bad. It just doesn't feel like you are driving a car but a wet brick dipped in a pool of mud. Again, not a long segment, but infuriatingly frustrating one.
|The biker battle scenes, which I personally don't like that much. This activity wears out its welcome a bit too quickly, but it's a good thing to remember that these are just puzzles, not actual action scenes.|
Back in the day, Full Throttle was one of those games that tried to bring in more cinematic approach in how a narrative was told in games. This is not only visible with many in-game cutscenes, which are rendered in an animated movie fashion but as well as how the puzzles are constructed. When you arrive at a location you either already have a lot of the things you need with you or the things are placed somewhere near. Some items can be used to solve several puzzles and while you can die on a couple of places, dying just rewinds the game a bit. All the actions you do are animated, making the gameplay feel more cinematic as well because there are a lot of custom animations that are played only at certain points in the game.
As such Full Throttle isn't a very long game. Depending on your play style, and how familiar you are with the game, it takes anywhere from 3 to 7 hours to beat, which is a pretty typical length to a modern adventure as well so that's a good length for a game that is trying to tell a more cinematic story.
I do have to add, that personally, I've never thought that Full Throttle is Schafer's strongest game, Not that it's bad, but it does have uneven design and elements that don't necessarily work as well as they could work, not even on this remastered version of the game. What is good about the game is really good, but then there are these segments which feel too much like filler content.
|Maureen and Ben. His bike is busted, she has the skills to fix it.|
All in all Full Throttle still is a solid experience though. If you liked it back in the day, you'll probably like it now as well, if you didn't like it when it originally came out, it's likely that you won't like it now either. If you haven't played it, then this remastered version is a good way of checking it out, especially if you're interested in being able to play as tough as nails biker in some not so distant future.
So, yeah, I thank Lord each day, for the apocalypse.
Full Throttle Remastered is out now on multiple platforms. It can be bought from GOG, Steam or if you're into consoles, it's available for Playstation as well.