As Citizen Brown
opens, Marty McFly is stuck in the time traveling DeLorean, wedged in a
billboard plastered with a giant image of Citizen Emmett Brown. Marty has
entered yet another alternate timeline, this one created when, back in
1931, Emmett Brown's interest in the hard sciences is hijacked and
channeled into an interest in the social sciences. If you thought that Doc
Brown could create unintentional catastrophes while zooming through the
past and future in a time machine...wait until you see what he can produce
when trying to shape Hill Valley into the perfect society.
This is the third episode in a planned series of
five. (For a review of the first episode, which contains some background,
click here.) The storyline continues from the previous episode; you
should play the first two episodes before playing Citizen Brown.
The interface, inventory system, and stylized 3D graphical world are the
same throughout the series.
Possible Plot Spoilers Ahead -- Demerits Received
for Reading This
Character interaction and revelation dominate this
episode. Marty's parents, his girlfriend Jennifer, and his nemesis Biff
Tannen have changed -- some subtly, some radically -- in response to the
disciplines of a society that makes a tiger mother look kittenish.
Citizens are simply not allowed to do anything that might not be for their
betterment. Any self-destructive activity garners demerits.
Security cameras are ubiquitous, as are recycling
bins, color themed to match their anticipated contents. There's even a
decycling bin in the town square, whose purpose might not be as silly as
it sounds. Does this seem like a scenario in which the fun-loving Marty
will have a field day? Yes, but as it turns out, there are hidden dangers
The best surprise in this episode is Marty's
girlfriend Jennifer, who has decided to throw down the gauntlet in the
face of Hill Valley's "it's for your own good" tyranny. Jennifer is now
neon-colored, from her hair to her wristbands, legwarmers, and
artistically holey tights. She adds some color to the monochromatic,
conformist Hill Valley surrounds. She is expertly voiced by Claudia Wells,
who performed the part of Jennifer in the original Back to the Future
Good Citizens May Resume Reading Now
The story in Citizen Brown contains a healthy
dollop of dramatic tension -- as even the resourceful Marty seems
overmatched. (How on earth will he work his way out of this one?) You'll
encounter more character interaction than in previous episodes. Dialogs
drive the pace along well, though we do perhaps hear a bit too much from
Marty's parents. Again, Doc is on screen less than I would like, but the
sequence in a room with a giant clock is worth the wait.
Gameplay includes dialog based challenges and
inventory item challenges (including a riff on Marty's hoverboard). The
most difficult challenges occur when you have to maneuver an opponent into
a certain position and then use a gesture or signal at the correct moment.
It's becoming clear that Back to the Future: The
Game contains an intricate story portrayed cinematically, with
gameplay that merges with the story rather than calling attention to
itself. The game will challenge you, but it won't keep you scratching your
head for too long. It's a successful mix.
Quick List for Back to the Future: The Game --
The third episode in a series of five, featuring
First Citizen Emmett Brown -- a utopian idealist -- and Marty McFly -- an
improvisational provocateur. Hill Valley, California in an alternate
reality 1986, where life is beautiful all the time. To understand the
story, you should play the previous two episodes before this one.
Stylized 3D graphics, plenty of character
interaction, new insight into the characters as they react to the
paternalism of their First Citizen. Occasional vulgarities. The game is
appropriate for older children and up.
Inventory, dialog, and movement sequence challenges,
one of which is mildly timed. No sliders, no mazes, no sound matching
puzzles. The electric guitar battle is a hoot. Puzzle difficulty is in the
easy-to-medium range; the most difficult challenges require inducing one
or more characters to move or react in a specific sequence. You can't die.
Third person perspective. Three options for
navigation: mouse (click-and-drag), keyboard (WASD or the arrow keys) or a
game controller. The Options menu provides access to different graphical
and auditory tweaks, plus hint features. About three hours of gameplay. No
problems with installation. No glitches.
Aimed at those who wish to see Marty take on
something even more challenging than Hill Valley ruled by Tannen thugs.
Final Grade: B+
What I played it on:
Dell Studio XPS 8000
Windows 7 Home Premium
Intel Core i5-750 processor
6GB DDR3 SDRAM
1024MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 220
Back to the Future: The Game -- Citizen Brown
can be purchased via download from
GameBoomers Review Guidelines