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