Back to the Future: The Game - Citizen Brown




Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    TellTale Games & Universal Studios

Released:  March 2011

PC Requirements:   Windows XP/Vista/Windows7, Pentium 4 2.0 GHz or 100% compatible CPU 512 MB RAM, 3 GB available hard disk space , DirectX 9,0c 




by Becky


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 too.

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 film.

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  -- Citizen Brown

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


1024MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 220

Soundblaster X-Fi

Back to the Future: The Game -- Citizen Brown can be purchased via download from Telltale Games.


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