Crime, romance, and the sound of bikes
Just when you thought there was nothing left to say, they released "Full Throttle". Question: what do we do after "Sam & Max"? Another comedy adventure, even wackier and crazier than this one? With even tougher, more illogical puzzles? But creativity was still the top priority of LucasArts, and instead of going further into the direction of "Sam & Max" (which they knew was a dead end), they made "Full Throttle". Although the new adventure was still not absolutely devoid of humor and traditional inventory-based puzzles, it was a totally different kind of game - a serious, melancholic, and even somewhat dark tale about murder, love, and betrayal, but without any sentimentality - for "real men".
Everything is cool in "Full Throttle", from bike design to background music. It is as if they said goodbye to all cozy and cute features, to all the half-kiddie stuff, and made a game that proved an adventure could be cooler than most shooters. For that alone LucasArts deserves deepest respect - here was it, a serious, fluent, action-loaded adventure, that would appeal even to those who thought adventure gamers were nerds. But that wasn't all, of course.
"Full Throttle" is wonderfully cinematic. It develops like a movie, with gameplay sections and cut scenes bearing almost the same importance. You don't only play it; you watch it. It was a great achievement - at that time, such movie-like games usually depended on a cast of live characters (like for example Under a Killing Moon
or The Beast Within
). Of course, "Full Throttle" doesn't have the same proportions as those games, but it is nevertheless much more cinematic than any other "pure" adventure before.
The puzzles are also more intuitive, more logical, the gameplay much more fluent. You are never stuck too much in one location, and your objectives are smaller, more immediate: of course, you have to clear your name and to defeat the villain, but the puzzles are more concrete, unlike in most adventure games by LucasArts, they don't build a complex structure where everything depends on each other, and smaller tasks reveal themselves as parts of bigger ones; they are modest, realistic, and straightforward. A great addition are the action sequences, which I found absolutely cool (especially fighting with different weapons).
LucasArts made great adventures before, but none of them was ever remarkable because of its story (perhaps with the exception of Loom
). "Full Throttle" has a great story, which is simple, but very emotional. There are no stunning plot twists, and the plot is neither too complex nor particularly deep, but it captures the hearts of players with its emotional intensity and brilliant usage of typical situations: one good guy is dead, another one is framed, there's romance, and nobody knows how it will end. And although the ending does resembles a typical "save the world, get the girl" situation, it is not at all about that... the ending of "Full Throttle" belongs to the most touching gaming moments ever.
The characters of "Full Throttle" are not the hilarious undead pirates, tentacles, dogs and rabbits from the previous LucasArts adventures: they are real people, and they are portrayed in such a way we can't help having feelings for them. Ben, the main hero of the game, is one of the most appealing protagonists ever, and Ripburger one of the most hated villains, surpassed in my eyes only by Luca Blight from Suikoden II
. There is also a great romance in the game, very touching and unsentimental, that fits the story perfectly.
No, it's not too easy. And it's not too short. Read my lips: IT'S... NOT... TOO... SHORT. It is just as short (or as long, if you prefer) as it should be. The plot is packed tightly into a game that is neither an epic nor a soap opera, but a concise short story with as much concentration as possible. So it is not as hard as Sam & Max
and as long as Grim Fandango
, but that doesn't mean it is not as great. Quite honestly: there's nothing wrong with this game.
The Bottom Line
The coolest adventure game ever. Nothing comes even close to this unforgetable romantic story, tight script, and movie-like presentation. What's more, it was made at the time when many adventure games followed the course of Myst
, diving deeper and deeper into a cold world of mathematical puzzles, abstract plot, and poor interaction. It took a truly great talent to create such a masterpiece as "Full Throttle".