GAME REVIEW – Back To The Future: The Game – Episode 3: Citizen Brown

By Marty Mulrooney

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Back To The Future: The Game returns once more with Episode 3: Citizen Brown! Following on from last month’s superb cliff-hanger ending, Marty McFly now finds himself trapped in an alternate timeline where 1986 Hill Valley is ruled by ‘First Citizen Brown’ and his every move is being watched. The DeLorean is trashed and everyday life has taken a turn for the worse. Alcohol, public displays of affection and even dogs are entirely forbidden and the majority of the people in Hill Valley are running on autopilot (or golf carts). Only one question remains: can Marty fix the DeLorean and the warped timeline before it’s too late?

This episode is by far Telltale’s best instalment of Back To The Future: The Game yet. There is something hugely enjoyable about the whole experience of Citizen Brown that I honestly can’t quite pinpoint. It could be the bright, colourful graphics (even more so than before), coupled with art design that hits new highs. It could also be the iconic Back To The Future musical theme, always lurking in the background to provoke sheer nostalgia. Or perhaps it is Marty and Doc, a pair of heroes that have always, through thick and thin, been close friends… until now.

The opening moments of this episode are brilliant and things only get better. Marty finally manages to escape the billboard-encased DeLorean with the help of his girlfriend Jennifer… with a twist. Original Jennifer actress from the first film Claudia Wells returns and boy, does she nail the part. The new Jennifer is punkish in look and attitude, convinced McFly is a total square. She is a true highlight. And as Marty heads into Hill Valley, he begins to release that Jennifer’s new identity is only the tip of the iceberg…

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There is a definite 1984 vibe going on in 1986 Hill Valley this episode. Security cameras are everywhere, Jennifer’s dad is now an officer of the law just like his old man was before him, and the Doc has turned recluse, locking himself away in the newly transformed Hill Valley Courthouse, his silhouette only glimpsed on rare occasion when he paces back and forth behind the looming,  somehow strangely familiar – as well as puzzlingly iconic – clock-face design.

Further problems are also starting to present themselves too, with Marty’s parents faring worse than ever. George McFly is now the ultimate ‘Peeping Tom’, and Loraine is hitting the juice again. The main body of the game is spent trying to get an audience with the Doc, aka First Citizen Brown, by breaking the law as much as possible. There is a really creepy, too-good-to-be-true vibe going on – Biff Tannen a model citizen?! – that lends a definite dark edge to the brighter-than-ever visuals.

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I have to approach this game both as a fan and a reviewer. In all honesty, the puzzles still aren’t that hard, but to be fair they do flow very nicely. Breaking the laws of Hill Valley gives the player clear objectives which are fun to carry out, especially when you get to break the PDA law with Jennifer… sorry, you’ll have to find out what that means for yourself! At first I was a bit frustrated that new events seemed to unravel simply because I had finished talking to someone, but then again the pacing has never been better… it’s a trade-off I guess. An epic alleyway guitar battle also goes a long way towards making amends for any misgivings. I encountered no major bugs and the ‘high shadows setting’ slowdown issues I experienced in certain scenes last episode (PC version) have seemingly been eliminated.

Episode 3: Citizen Brown is not only the best episode of Back To The Future: The Game yet, but also one of Telltale’s finest episodes full stop. I can’t reveal too much, but trust me: the final half hour of Episode 3 is sheer brilliance, showcasing the writers, programmers, art designers and voice actors at their very best – apologies to anyone I have missed out! AJ LoCascio in particular has really settled into the role of Marty, making his interactions with Christopher Lloyd as the Doc all the more hard-hitting and poignant. The difficultly may be relatively low, keeping a perfect score just out of reach, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t loved the entire experience of Episode 3: Citizen Brown. I only have one request left for Telltale next month: please, stop doing such amazing cliff-hangers! You’re absolutely killing me…

9.5 OUT OF 10

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