|Review by Ugur Sener
It is not just a simple hobby; it is a lifestyle. Benís bike is his most valued possession. It is his home and ever-faithful companion. He is the leader of the Polecats, a motorcycle gang that lives on the highways. It is not an easy life. Money seems to be always tight, and they can never be quite sure where they will find another meal or a halfway decent place to sleep. But it is also a life of great freedom. They make their own rules. Constantly on the road, the gang members know the highways better than the cities they connect.
Yet Ben and the Polecats are members of a dying breed. There is a single domestic motorcycle manufacturer left in the country. Without Corley Motors, everyone might have already been bound by those pesky hover cars. Who can trust something without wheels anyway? But the company owner Malcolm Corley is getting quite old. He will not be around to personally lead the company for much longer. And Adrian Ripburger, the top executive reporting to Mr. Corley has great plans for the company. He may not be willing to wait until Corley dies either.
Full Throttle is a classic third-person adventure game from LucasArts. It is a game many players remember very fondly, and with good reason. With a solid, engaging storyline, colorful characters that you will actually care about, a handful of fun puzzles, and a great deal of style, Full Throttle is a fun ride from start to finish. Even though the game was released back in 1994, it remains quite playable and entertaining to this day.
The game opens with a lengthy introduction movie showing Ben and his gang members riding their bikes along the highway. They come across Malcolm Corleyís fancy hover car. Defying gravity, Ben deftly jumps on top of the vehicle with his motorcycle, riding across the car. Being an old-time biker himself, Corley decides to follow the gang to a bar further down the highway. Telling Ripburger to wait in the car, Malcolm walks into the bar to spend some time with the gang members. Eventually, Ripburger gets impatient and decides to speed things along a little. Walking in, he announces that Corley Motors is interested in hiring the Polecats as an escort for Malcolm at the companyís annual shareholder meeting.
Ben is not really interested in the offer, but he still goes outside with Ripburger to discuss it in detail. After explaining to the corporate goon that his gang is not for hire, Ben is just about ready to go back to the bar. Unfortunately, Ripburgerís thugs attack him from behind, knock him out, and throw him into the dumpster. When Ben comes to his senses, his gang has already left the area. The biker quickly finds out that Ripburger is planning an ambush. His gang is somehow involved, but he is not quite sure how. Jumping on his motorcycle, Ben sets out to catch up with the rest of the Polecats and prevent the ambush. Unfortunately, his bike unexpectedly breaks down as he is speeding down the highway. Barely surviving the accident, Ben gets knocked out for the second time in a single day.
This time a journalist finds the biker and takes him to a nearby town. An exceptionally kind mechanic named Maureen patches up Benís wounds. She also agrees to fix his bike at no charge. But she does need Benís help in order to complete the repairs. And thus, the adventure truly begins. Trapped in the town of Melonweed, Ben has to help Maureen fix his bike. He then has to locate his gang and somehow prevent the ambush before something terrible happens. The welfare of his entire gang and the future of Corley Motors may depend on Ben. The biker has a very tough night ahead of him.
Full Throttle is played from a third-person perspective and uses a mouse-driven interface. Clicking on any part of the screen makes Ben go in the indicated direction. The default mouse icon is a white crosshair. If you hover the mouse over a hotspot, a red border appears around the crosshair. In order to interact with the hotspot, players have to hold down the left mouse button. This brings up icons indicating the available actions. Players can attempt four possible actions on any object. Clicking on the eyeballs makes Ben examine the object and provide a description. Selecting the leather boot will make Ben kick the object. The tongue icon will instruct Ben to use his mouth on an object or talk to another character. Finally, the fist icon is used to pick up inventory items, use objects such as switches or levers, or punch the indicated object. The inventory is accessed with a click on the right mouse button. The available items are presented as a list of icons. By scrolling through the list, players can select the desired item and click on an object in the environment in order to use it.
While the mouse-driven interface will be used throughout the bulk of the game, it is worth noting that Full Throttle does feature a couple of mini-games where the controls are a little different. In addition, a couple of keyboard shortcuts are available. While pressing on the spacebar pauses the game, tapping the F1 key brings up the in-game menu. Using this menu players can save or load the game, adjust sound volumes, and turn on subtitles. Full Throttle comes on a single CD and takes up less than a megabyte of space on the hard drive. It is possible to run the game on a Windows XP system with the help of DosBox.
The storyline and the atmosphere are without a doubt among the strongest aspects of Full Throttle. The near-future setting and the biker theme makes for a rather distinctive experience. While the game is presented in cartoon-like graphics and features plenty of humor, the underlying tone is quite serious. Full Throttle manages to capture the free-spirited feeling of a road adventure while at the same time creating a sense of urgency with its storyline. The game has an edgy and stylish tone that is quite immersive and befitting the main plot. It may not feature the most unexpected plot twists and it may not be the longest adventure game you will play, but Full Throttle certainly has what it takes to capture your interest from the very beginning. Once you get into the game, you will most likely not want to stop playing until you reach the end.
A large part of Full Throttleís success comes from the characters featured in the game. Full Throttle does not have an exceptionally large cast of significant characters, but the people you get to meet are quite interesting and should make you care more about the storyline. With his tough-guy attitude and remarkable resourcefulness, Ben makes for a highly entertaining lead character. Even if you have no affinity towards motorcycles, there is something immediately likeable about his attachment to his bike, the road, and his gang. Being a good leader, you get the sense that he is truly concerned about what happens to his gang. He also seems to have a sense of honor and dignity that sets him apart from many of the other bikers wreaking havoc across the highways and country roads.
The other characters also greatly contribute to the story and help maintain your interest in the game. There is definitely something mysterious about Maureen, the mechanic who so kindly offers to fix Benís bike for free. She seems to be quite kind and caring underneath her serious faÁade. The old-timer Malcolm Corley might be at the head of a sizeable corporation, but you can easily tell he is still a biker at heart. He knows how to have a good time and get along with the gang members. He might be spending much of his time attending boring meetings at corporate offices, but it is the road where he truly seems to feel at home. Adrian Ripburger on the other hand makes for an excellent corporate jerk. He is clearly willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. Along with his two faithful goons, he is simply waiting for the right opportunity to take action.
The exceptional voice-acting featured in Full Throttle greatly helps bring the gameís characters to life. All the voices seem very fitting for the characters. In particular, Roy Conrad and Mark Hamill deliver memorable performances in the roles of Ben and Ripburger.
The puzzles featured in Full Throttle are mostly inventory-based. For the most part, the challenges Ben has to overcome are not exceptionally difficult. The game usually does a nice job of providing the necessary clues. As long as you carefully examine each environment, you should be able to overcome many of the puzzles without too much trouble. It is also important to remember that punching and kicking things are very much available actions in the game. If conventional methods are not getting you where you need to go, using Benís brute strength may turn out to be a good idea. The hotspots are generally easy to find and fairly obvious. Players should not expect to resort to tedious pixel hunting in order to get through the game.
It is important to note that Full Throttle does feature some mini-games you have to play in order to complete the game. Admittedly, these mini-games can seem out of place in a traditional adventure game. They can get a little frustrating and take away from the overall experience. However, the point of the mini-games is not really to test your hand-eye coordination. While some careful timing will be required, the mini-games actually work like puzzles. Once you figure out how they work, it should be fairly easy to find a way to overcome these challenges. In addition, the mini-games fortunately do not appear in excessive amounts and do not overshadow the traditional third-person adventure gaming portions of Full Throttle.
Given the nature of the storyline, Ben will encounter a number of dangerous situations throughout the course of the adventure. During some of these segments, you will have to complete a series of actions within a limited amount of time. If you let the time limit expire, Ben might lose his life. Fortunately, Full Throttle has been designed to prevent Benís untimely demise from being too much of a hassle. If you make a fatal mistake, the game will automatically resume from the beginning of the corresponding segment. It is impossible to permanently lose the game. Even if you forget to save your progress at regular intervals, you will still be able to resume the adventure if Ben dies before you reach the end.
As a whole, Full Throttle is a greatly entertaining adventure. The game tells an interesting and very engaging story that should keep you interested from start to finish. With a colorful cast of characters, excellent voice acting, a fitting soundtrack, stylish cartoon-like graphics, and a healthy dose of humor, Full Throttle manages to deliver a very successful road adventure. The mini-games and the timed sequences might put off some players. The game is also fairly short and can be completed in just a few hours. However, it is still a thoroughly fun ride and can be easily recommended to fans of third-person point-and-click adventure games. If you have not played it yet, try and get a hold of a copy. You will be in for a treat.
|PC System Requirements:|
|MS DOS 5.0 or higher|
|8 MB RAM|
|1 MB Hard disk space|
|256 color VGA video card|
|SoundBlaster, Gravis UltraSound, Pro Audio Spectrum, Ensoniq Soundscape, or 100% compatible sound card|
|Keyboard, mouse, speakers|