Published on February 24th, 2011 | by Cameron Woolsey
Back to the Future Episode II: Get Tannen! Review
MSRP: $24.99 (series)
Developer: Telltale Games
When we last left our time-hopping heroes, everything seemed to be in perfect order. Marty broke Doc out of jail and Kid Tannen was tasting defeat–which, not surprisingly, tastes just like a truck full of manure. The duo seemed pleased with their hasty efforts to fix the sensitive timeline, and readied the DeLorean to make their return.
Mere moments before their departure it becomes clear that things aren’t right.
Somewhere during the course of Marty’s little adventure someone made a bit of a minor miscalculation which set in motion a series of events leading up to the death of Marty’s grandfather, thereby ensuring Marty’s own non-existence. Heavy.
Luckily it turns out that the problem is easily fixed by simply telling the death-prone clutz to hide out for about, oh, until Marty’s dad is born. An ouch-free Band-Aid once again is applied to the timeline and the duo return home, fairly satisfied that nothing else can go wrong. After all, it’s just time travel.
But faster than you can say “1.21 jigawatts” things take a turn for the worse as Marty comes home to a world ruled by Tannens. Biff is no longer the boot-licking wuss he became after the first movie; he has returned to his bat-wielding form. He also multiplied since we saw him last. He and his two brothers confront Marty and they inform him that the Tannens took over the city since 1931 and have become one of the top five crime families in California. And here I figured that their primary talent has always been to find the one lone manure truck in all of Hill Valley and crash into it.
Not willing to live in a world of chuckling Biff clones, Marty and the Doc jump back to 1931 to figure out where the timeline goes astray and prevent Hill Valley from being overrun by “Beavis and Butt-Head”-like goons.
The main difficulty when dealing with a game being released in episodes is with the game’s environments. Telltale prevents repetition with the now-familiar environment by moving focus to the inside of Kid Tannen’s speakeasy. The game only occasionally requires Marty to run around out in the open where new camera angles and lighting keep the town square from feeling boring.
Puzzles are still the primary gameplay element. Much like the first episode the puzzles are just as easy to complete, if not more so. Solutions to most of the puzzles present themselves without much needed effort. The rest can be solved just by randomly clicking objects on other objects until the plot rears itself from its hiding place.
The real change from the first two episodes comes from the story. Marty has to somehow get Kid Tannen arrested and he does so by infiltrating Kid’s speakeasy armed with only a classy film noir suit and a fake mustache. I felt that the plot had more of a sense of urgency that the previous episode lacked which kept me engaged throughout the episode’s two hour length. There is a sense of danger while I wandered about that den of drunks and gangsters. I felt that a wrong move could mean the end of either Marty’s grandfather or the beginning of a bullet shower from Tannen’s Tommy gun. Of course, there’s also the bumbling young Emmett Brown who “somehow” crashed his flying car into a billboard. Like Doc, like Emmett.
Speaking of which, Get Tannen once again features the incredible vocal talent as Christopher Lloyd and AJ LoCascio as Doc Brown and Marty McFly respectively. Other vocals revolve around 1930s stereotypes but aren’t as commendable. The music once again comes from the movies which earns automatic thumbs up from me. The graphics are the same as from the first episode, bringing bright colors and fantastic character models. I noticed that the game lacked a lot of the technical problems from Episode I such as the sketchy lip syncing.
The Final Truth:
Back to the Future Episode II: Get Tannen! is a lot like the first episode but the modest improvements and tweaks help it shine brighter than its predecessor. The story is engaging enough that it kept my attention despite the weak puzzle element. It’s exactly how I predicted it at the end of my review for Episode I. Telltale started slowly with It’s About Time but it’s clear with this installment the team is quickening the pace and the overall quality of the game benefits from the effort. A fact that is great news to gamers; there are three more episodes to play and based on the ending of Get Tannen!, the next episode should be even better. We will find out when it releases next month.
[xrr label=”Rating: 8/10″ rating=8/10]
+ More engaging story.
+ The great vocal cast returns.
+ Many of the glitches have been fixed.
– Puzzle solving still weak.