Saturday, 16 August 2014

GROW: Full Throttle (PC)

Review by Clint 'Thorn' Thornton
                          @RetroGameRevive
Developer(s)LucasArts
Publisher(s)LucasArts
Designer(s)Tim Schafer
Artist(s)Peter Chan
Writer(s)Tim Schafer
Dave Grossman
Composer(s)Peter McConnell
EngineSCUMM (visual)
INSANE (cut scenes)
iMUSE (audio)
Platform(s)DOS, Mac OS, Windows
Release date(s)April 30, 1995[1]
Genre(s)Graphic adventure
Mode(s)Single-player
DistributionCD-ROM

PC games in the 90's.......  What a great time to be a PC gamer.  The variety of games might not have been quite as high of what SEGA and Nintendo were producing on their home consoles but at the same time, those purely dedicated to the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis/Mega Drive were missing out on a whole new world and gaming experiences.  Nobody can argue that the PC was the undisputed king of 1st person shooters with such masterpieces like Doom, Duke Nukem 3D & Quake.  But the PC was also awarded champion of another genre, no home game console could compete with, The 'Point & Click' adventure game.  When I first started playing these epic adventures I was playing Sierra game series like 'Space Quest' and 'Kings Quest' but when I finally played my first LucasArts game there was no turning back for me......

.....  I had played my fair share of LucasArts adventure games before I played 'Full Throttle' and although I loved the in-depth story telling of games like Monkey Island and the crude humor that Sam & Max could offer, I found a perfect balance of everything I loved in these games in Full Throttle.

Corley & Ripburger
PLOT
You are Ben, leader of the Polecats.  An outlaw motorcycle gang in the year 2040 who own highway 9.  The game starts with an animated cut scene of the Polecats advancing on a hover-limousine driving through their territory.  Without knowing or caring who is in the limo Ben decides to ride over it, damages the vehicle and takes off down the highway.  Turns out the passenger of the limo is Malcolm Corely of Corely Motors, the last Motorcycle manufacturer in the country and one of Bens idols.  Malcolm requests his drivers to catch up to Ben and his gang and finds them having a drink at the Kick Stand Bar alongside the highway.  Malcolm  approaches Ben and asks him and the Polecats to escort him to the Annual Corley Motors shareholders meeting.  Although Ben respects Malcolm he replies 'The Polecats are not for hire" and declines the offer.  Malcolm's 2nd in charge Adrian Ripburger asks to speak to Ben privately outside and before Ben knows it he has been knocked unconscious and been tossed in a dumpster.  Ben soon finds out his gang have been lied to and could be heading straight in to trouble, so he must start his journey to uncover the truth of what is really going on and to save his motorcycle gang.
The very simple yet effective graphical interface

GAMEPLAY
The best thing about LucasArts adventure games is that they all follow a very similar protocol when it comes to the mechanics of the game.  Your mouse is all you need for most of the game with a very simple graphical interface.  You only need to choose 1 of 3 icons for interaction with each icon having multiple uses.

Fist: Use, Grab or Hit
Skull: Tongue (Speak or taste), Eyes (Examine)
Boot: Kick

Polecats vs Rottweilers - One of the 'Real Time' combat scenes

Throughout your journey you will have an inventory of tools and weapons once again all controlled very simply by the mouse.  As you go from place to place you will be required to talk to the people along the way as they will be the ones who point you in the right direction.  As you speak to these people you will be given a choice of different things to say to them but it will always be in your best interest to ask all the questions no matter how pointless they may seem at the time.
Ben doing a few favors for Maureen

Although there is no real time limit to the game you will be put in to situations that require you to think quick or make the correct decision otherwise you may end up dying.  But the good news is there is no 'Game Over' in Full Throttle so all you need to do is learn from your mistakes the next time around and you will make solid progress.  For those who have played a few LucasArts games you will notice that Full Throttle is one of the shorter adventures and the puzzles are not quite as complex as games like the Monkey Island series but I don't feel that inhibits the game from still being a fulfilling adventure.  If you haven't had much experience with 'Point & Click' adventure games but want to give them a go then I would say Full Throttle is the perfect place to start.


Highly detailed hand drawn art

GRAPHICS
Full Throttle made full use of the SCUMM engine to produce crisp characters and highly detailed backgrounds.  The game also uses pre-rendered graphics using the INSANE engine.  You will notice this the most in the scenes when Ben is on his bike on the Old Mine Road and although the final product looks great, this was apparently very difficult to pull off for the artists as the INSANE engine was designed for photo-realistic graphics and not the cartoon style you see in the rest of the game.
The INSANE engine at work but still producing that cartoon look it was apparently not supposed to do

You just can't help but appreciate the art style
AUDIO
Full Throttle was only released on CD-ROM so you will be treated to a full voice over soundtrack using real voice actors and not just LucasArts staff that have been known to take to the mic in previous games.  Mark Hamill is the most noted voice actor of the cast and plays the perfect villain of Ripburger.  But in saying that all the voices fit each character perfectly all with well spoken dialogue.  It is also one of the few LucasArts games to use licensed music from external artists such as 'The Gone Jackals'.

OVERALL
This is definitely one of the most complete adventure gaming experiences you can have without spending hour after after trying to decode puzzles.  Some people might say it's the games weakness but I say it's perfect for what it is.  As much as we love to delve deep in to the 'Point & Click' adventure genre and put our brains to the test whilst enjoying an in-depth story to accompany it, sometimes we just want to simplify things and enjoy the game for what it is.


8 comments:

  1. I think I'll have to give Full Throttle another playthrough one of these days. I bought it back in the day and of course I finished it back then. While I was definitely well entertained throughout the game, I have always felt that this was one of the weaker LucasArts games. It's probably because I was a sucker for the hard puzzle solving of e.g., Monkey Island 2 and Day of the Tentacle. Today I have less time to play games and my interest in great storytelling is bigger, so I'd probably appreciate Full Throttle a lot more. I'll have to give that a try soon.

    Great article Clint!

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