Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Citizen Brown Review

Citizen Brown is the third episode of Back to the Future: The Game, the five part episodic adventure game by Telltale Games.  For the first time in this series, the episode takes place in only one timeline, an alternate timeline where Hill Valley has become a strict land ruled by order and discipline.

The game continues to shine in the areas where the previous games have excelled. The art style once again works well, and the new Hill Valley contrasts greatly against both the Hill Valley shown in the previous episodes of the game, as well as the Hill Valley of the movies.  The town is recognizably the same, yet also very different, much like the alternate Hill Valley shown in Back to the Future II.  Unlike that Hill Valley though, this one is neat and clean, which was a wise choice since that cleanliness fits the art style of this series perfectly.

Once again the voice work shines.  Doc and Marty are voiced excellently once more, and AJ Locascio gets to flex his ability as an actor with a duo role as both Marty and of one of Marty's highschool acquaintances.  Even though it's an alternate reality, it was still great to see Marty socializing with his peers, since not much of that aspect of teen life was shown in the movies.  The greatest addition to this game, in my opinion, was Marty's girlfriend Jennifer, who is voiced by Claudia Wells, the original Jennifer from the first movie.  They have digitally altered her voice to sound like she did when she was a teenager, and they did a great job.  She sounds just like she did in the film.  As I said before, I enjoy Andrew Chaikin's wimpy Biff, and since this alternate Biff fits that bill, he does the job well.  The rest of the cast performed just as well, including some new takes on some previously introduced characters, as well as a character which was only just briefly seen in the first film.

The music is wonderful as always, and the musical cues and sound effects from the movies are used to great effect here.  The issues I had with technical side of the sound has finally seemed to have been rectified here, as I played the game twice and didn't notice the characters calling Marty the wrong name this time.  He was called by the name I chose in my first playthrough of the first episode consistently.  I also didn't encounter any lipsynching glitches in this episode either.  This seems to be the most polished episode thus far.

The puzzles have improved, and fan feedback was taken into effect.  There are no repeats from puzzles from previous episodes here (the Einstein sniffing puzzles are thankfully behind us now it seems), and the puzzles that are there require a bit more thought.  The game is still easier than most Telltale games (especially at this point in the season), but the game no longer seems to hold your hand for each puzzles unless you have the optional hint objectives turned on.

Citizen Brown doesn't have any time travel, but nonetheless it features the best story of the season so far.  It also seems to be better play-tested, since I didn't encounter any bugs or glitches in this episode.  The voice acting is excellent as usual, the art is wonderful, and the musical score and sound effects are used to great effect.  It is most certainly the most polished episode of the series so far.  The game's main drawback is still the puzzles.  They are more difficult than previous episodes, but they are still easier than other Telltale games, especially considering we are now at the middle of the 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. I originally thought that Andrew Chaikin was fine in this episode, as he does wimpy Biff well. However, Tom Wilson manages to have a variety in the performance of even a pacified Biff.  He really helps to convey the creepiness of the Citizen Plus program.  Plus, of course, the few instances we get to see a tough Biff work a lot better with Tom Wilson's performance. 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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