Review: Back to the Future: Episode 2 “Get Tannen!” (PC)

Back to the Future: The Game: Episode Two “Get Tannen!”
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: 02/16/2011

After the first Back to the Future episode by Telltale games, I was a little apprehensive about playing more of the series. Sure, the voice acting, storyline and music were all spot on, but I feel that Telltale continues to regress gameplay wise ever since Sam and Max: Season Three which tried a lot of different approaches to puzzle solving.

Now the second episode of BttF is out, titled “Get Tannen!”. Does it fix the mistakes of its predecessor?

1. Story/Modes

The storyline is one of things I praised in the original episode. It truly felt like I was playing through an episode in a Back to the Future TV series.

At the end of the first episode, Marty and Doc are preparing to go back to good old 1986 when Marty starts disappearing, indicating something has happened to his lineage. A quick look at tomorrow’s newspaper shows that his grandfather (who he subpoenaed in the first episode) has been shot by Kid Tannen, the gangster he was to testify against. This leads to a scenario similar to Back to the Future Part II, where Marty has to rescue his grandfather from being shot while at the same time avoiding contact with the version of himself from the first movie.

Honestly, that was my favourite part of the second movie and I was glad to see it ingame but unfortunately, it doesn’t last long before that part is over and Marty fixes the issue and is out of sight of…himself.

But of course, returning to 1986 usually means one thing: something they did in the past has messed up the present and they need to go back in time again to infiltrate Kid Tannen’s gang and put him behind bars.

Overall, I enjoyed the story in Episode II more than Episode I and that’s difficult considering how good the first one was. The major sore point I have, however, is that it’s too short! I finished the game in about two hours and thirty minutes which means less than two hours of actual story content (most of the time I’m walking around trying to figure out puzzles) and by the end of the game, you’re left craving more.

Basically, the game’s story is like Chinese food; good but leaves you hungry in the end.

Story/Modes Rating: Great

2. Graphics

The graphics engine remains unchanged from the first game. All the characters have big expressive cartoony faces that really do resemble their real life counterparts (if they have real life counterparts that is) but I still can’t help comparing the game to Sam and Max. Why does the game look worse than an older Telltale game?

There’s really only one new area in the game as well (two if you count the alleyway leading to it) and while the new area does look very nice and colourful, I felt it could have looked even better if it was given the real time lighting effects seen in the Disorient Express in Sam and Max Season Three.

Graphics Rating: Decent

3. Sound

I already mentioned it in the previous review but it has to be mentioned again: AJ LoCasio is an excellent Michael J. Fox sound-a-like. It makes me wonder what Telltale would have done if Mr. LoCasio didn’t beg them for the part on Telltale’s answering machine.

The rest of the voice cast does a good job, but I really miss having Tom Wilson voicing all the Tannens. It’s just not the same without him! Come on Telltale! At least offer him a deal or something and we can say that you tried!

Sound Rating: Great

4. Control/Gameplay

In what is going to become a common theme in this review, I’m going to refer you to my review of the first episode of Back to the Future: The Game because everything in that game applies here. Telltale really didn’t change anything for this episode so every flaw remains.

The crappy “click and drag” system? It’s still here and kicking your ass and destroying your brain’s logic centres. I’ve already ranted at length about this control scheme in both my BttF reviews and my Sam and Max Season Three reviews so I’ll keep it short and just say that Telltale really needs to give us “point and click” back.

The puzzles in the game are good, but nothing special, because there are fewer areas in the game and tasks come in sequence rather than all at the same time, so they’re a bit easier to keep track of. They’re not easier in difficulty (because that would be hard to do considering how easy they already were in Episode One) but rather because you only have to deal with at most two at a time, which I feel makes the game structured better.

One good thing is that they removed the fake choices in the dialogue system from the first episode. I’d much rather have seen a system where choices actually affected the dialogue, but giving the players a false hope is worse so I’m glad they removed it.

Control/Gameplay Rating: Poor

5. Replayability

Is it just me or do Telltale’s game’s keep getting shorter? Both episode one and two of Back to the Future have been just over two hours long from start to finish compared with at least three hours for Sam and Max and Strongbad. This is precisely why I hated the whole shift to episodic gaming in the first place. We’re being drip fed small quantities of gaming of a lower quality like some potheads begging their dealer for more instead of getting feature length masterpieces like the games of old.

Replayability Rating: Dreadful

6. Balance

“Get Tannen!” is not a game that will cause you to lose sleep trying to solve its puzzles. It is mostly very simple and straightforward especially as there are very few areas to go and people to interact with so you can just try the old “use every item on everyone” trick to get past the game and even if you don’t, there’s a nice hint system to push you along if you activate it.

Problem is, I hoped this series would get more difficult with each new episode but it seems to have actually gotten easier! A disappointing trend in Telltale’s productions.

Balance Rating: Below Average

7. Originality

I worried in my previous reviews that Telltale worked themselves in a corner by releasing a first episode that contained almost no gameplay innovations and seemed to be archaic by modern standards. Any changes in future episodes would simply be playing catch up and trying to patch the game.

Little did I know that they wouldn’t even try. There’s no new advancement in episode two of any kind, it’s just episode one with a couple of new areas. That’s it.

Originality Rating: Awful

8. Addictiveness

While the game is incredibly short, I feel that since the game starts off with a very immediate danger (Marty phasing out of the timeline) and generally keeps you busy with enough varied objectives in quick succession that it tends to hold you better than the first game, which tended to drag in some of the early parts.

Of course, the short length of the game contributes to this as there’s really no time to get bored of the game.

Addictiveness Rating: Enjoyable

9. Appeal Factor

I mentioned back in the review for the first episode that due to the major appeal of a well-loved movie franchise like Back to the Future, this episodic series would be Telltale’s bestselling game to date. Turns out I was right!

While we don’t have specific figures, Telltale announced that BttF is their highest selling property to date! Congratulations Telltale!

Now that you have enough money to make a full game, DO IT!

Appeal Factor Rating: Great

10. Miscellaneous

I’m rather disappointed in Telltale. Instead of improving on the flaws found in the initial episode, they instead chose to completely ignore it and make a game with the exact same flaws. This just feels like Telltale are on cruise control now with no real effort being expended on game design as some of these flaws (like the retarded “designed for iPad” control scheme) have been around since before Back to the Future.

Miscellaneous Rating: Poor

The Scores
Graphics: Decent
Control and Gameplay: Poor
Replayability: Dreadful
Balance: Below Average
Originality: Awful
Addictiveness: Enjoyable
Appeal Factor: Great
Miscellaneous: Poor

FINAL SCORE: Mediocre Game!

Short Attention Span Summary
Since you can’t buy this series by the episode, you really have nothing to lose by playing this new episode if you’ve already bought the season pass. Whatever your thoughts were on “About Time”, “Get Tannen!” is more of the same, for better or for worse.



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