Review: Back to the Future: Episode 3

Right, here we go again. Into the menu, change the same options, start the game as we did before, watch the same intro screen with the same music as the last two times. There’s the logo for Back to the Future, again. This is identical to the first two episodes, I bet they’ve even used the same models and locations… oh wait, that’s strange. What’s that, a large billboard with an image of “Citizen Brown”?  Well, this is definitely different. Where is this? More importantly: when is this?

[boxout]As soon as you hurtle into the opening of Back to the Future: Episode 3, you’ll notice things are very different; not just from the first two episodes. Hill Valley has changed, Doc has changed, Jennifer (Marty’s girlfriend) has changed and the whole of 1986 is a twisted version of its former self. Something has gone majorly wrong in the timeline – you did make sure to tie all of those little loose ends in 1931, didn’t you? Thankfully, Jennifer’s there to help you get out of the trouble you’re in during the opening sequence… or not; apparently she’s different and not into you in this timeline, so it takes some persuasion to get her to help. This opening paves the way for the rest of the episode; you won’t be getting much help from anyone without a lot of persuasion.

They’re not all like the delinquent Jennifer, though; far from it. The alternate timeline Doc has turned Hill Valley into the perfect city: enforced daily uniform, electric cars (golf buggies), strict law enforcement, which includes punishment for carrying forbidden items such as bubblegum or alcohol, and the buildings are all very clean and pretty. It’s nice to see this take on Hill Valley and it’s very interesting to explore; you know your way around from the previous games, but the changes make it feel like a new place. However, you won’t be able to fully explore due to the abundance of invisible walls around certain sections.

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[drop2]The gameplay itself is much the same as the first two episodes; check your goal, talk to people to solve the problems which then lead you to the main goal of the episode: getting an audience with Doc Brown to find out what’s going on. These goals involve searching for different items and persuading people with dialogue choices. Scenes can range from being puzzle-like, to being more action based; some of these are really tense and they’re all the better for it. There’s one brilliant battle in particular that I can only describe as ‘heavy’.

The story is where Episode 3 really shines. The alternate reality has provided a great way to make some of the well-known characters interesting. Such as Biff, who has rehabilitated himself and now acts as a good citizen after going through the “Citizen Plus” programme, which is a nice tongue-in-cheek reference to A Clockwork Orange. It feels more focused and it’s as if there’s more of a real threat than before; the Tannens are nothing compared to the threat of Citizen Brown. Although the story can be quite serious at some points, it’s not missing the good old Back to the Future humour, as other parts remain comedic and will leave you smiling.

Once again, the graphics and animation do the job, but aren’t anything special; this isn’t a game that you’ll buy to marvel at the visuals. And once again the voice acting, music and sound in general are all spectacular. Claudia Wells (Jennifer in the first film) reprises her role and puts in a great performance, along with the other voice actors. The controls could do with some improvements and non-fans definitely won’t get on with this one, but it’s another great episode.

Pros:

  • Superb, focused story
  • Sound is spot-on
  • Alternate Hill Valley is intriguing
  • Some great, tense scenes

Cons:

  • Controls still haven’t been refined
  • Invisible walls, whilst understandable, can be annoying
  • For fans only

Telltale have treated Back to the Future fans to another great episode, full of the fan service necessary to keep us all happy. The story and setting are both intriguing and, along with the sound, really shine through as the best parts of the game. It’s on par with, if not better than Episode 2 and paves the way for a new arc in the story – one that we’ll be seeing through to the end. Episode 3 proves that this series of episodic games is something that’s worthy of the title “Back to the Future Part 4”.

Score: 8/10

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15 Comments

  1. I’ve only played episode 1 so far as I got it free when I bought Monkey Island.
    I really enjoyed it so just need to clear the funds for the rest of the season.

  2. I hated the demo. The controls were so bad it ruined any possible enjoyment for me. That was ep1 mind.

  3. I hope Episode 2 is on the PS Store next week!

  4. After playing the demo of Ep1 and enjoying it I bought the unlock key for all 5 episodes. Like most episodic games I’m probably going to hold fire until all 5 are released and then play them back to back :)

  5. The first episode is free for PC and mac, although I don’t know if its all regions
    http://www.telltalegames.com/bttfoffer

  6. Deliberately not reading this as we’re still waiting for episode 2 on the PSN (despite it coming out in the US last week)…
    Enjoyed the first ep (apart from the ridiculous science experiment mini game near the end), so looking forward to the rest…

    • I loved that science experiment part, was very funny

    • Episode 2 is on the store (and my HDD!) right NOW!

      • science puzzle was great lol and yer it’s already on the store!!!

  7. played the last demo and just didn’t like it at all. I love the films but the game was terrible, very jittery and didn’t flow at all.

    • don’t play the demo it’s crap, just go for the whole bundle!

  8. Nice review. Love these films. I’m the same as R4U will be waiting till it’s all released then will play.

  9. I’ve downloaded the demo for the first episode, but I haven’t got around to playing it yet. I so hope that I like it because I loved the three films.

  10. Joyful read, I still haven’t picked this up despite it looking really appealing. Each episode (so far) has been really consistent with reviews. Hopefully they’ll be a Steam or PSN sale when all episodes have been released, then I’ll grab them cheap.

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