You know that LucasArts mob that are a bit handy with this adventure game lark? Well they've got a new adventure game coming out on CD this Christmas which you might just have heard a little about... Full Throttle.
Set in a desolate future (according to the press release) justice has become nothing more than a "tentative concept'' and law and order has been replaced by a sort of Mad Max style "code of the highway". This new way of things not only allows for overtaking on the inside, when morons on the M40 are driving al 70mph in the fast lane with nothing to their left, but also dictates a code of honour throughout the land.
As the hero of the game, you play the part of a Desperate Dan look-alike by the name of Ben... a hard-core biker type chap and the leader of a gang called the Polecats. Framed for the murder of the head-honcho at Corley Motors (the last remaining manufacturers of motorbikes), Ben's job is to track down the real murderer and clear his name.
Gameplay not only covers the traditional adventure-style gameplay we have come to expect from LucasArts, but it also includes extensive cinematics which make use of a distinctive graphic style and a number of 3D action sequences.
Aside from the fantastic visuals the game is also the first LucasArts adventure designed specifically for CD. Unlike previous SCUMMers, Full Throttle has a specifically composed digital music score, as well as full speech and sampled sound effects throughout.
Download Full Throttle
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Disappointing as it will be to many of our readers, Full Throttle has very little to do with lovingly fingering the Adam's apple of a pekinese, or getting your hands firmly clamped over the windpipe of a King Charles spaniel. In fact, the popular sport of fluffy dog-strangling doesn't make a single appearance in the game. Instead, the designers have seen fit to set the game in the more tawdry world of motorcycle gangs, with all its accompanying smelly leather clothing and dodgy personal habits. Regular readers of Throttling News and Itchy Thumbs Monthly, the consumer lifestyle magazines for those who feel the need to squeeze on a regular basis, may now return this magazine to the newsagent's shelf and depart.
Right, who's left? Oh, only you three. Ah, well. Okay then, here goes. Full Throttle is set in the near future. In other words, it's the future, but not as you imagined it at the age of ten. People have not yet taken to walking about in Bacofoil suits while robots do the washing up or allow you to have sex with them (while they're doing the washing up). That's not to say that people's lives are the same as they are today. Many things that nowadays we take for granted are radically different - the bad news is that the quality of television has deteriorated to the point that Bay-watch is looked on as hard-hitting social realism. The good news is that Noel Edmonds is dead.
But it's in the area of private transportation that things have altered most noticeably. Wheels are a thing of the past. Designers have done away with those round, confounded nuisances that judder so badly when you hit a lollipop man, and all road-going vehicles now hover impressively a good couple of feet above the ground. (In fact, if you hit a lollipop man with one of these things, you would come away with a new bonnet ornament of an interestingly pink and floppy design.) Did I say all vehicles? Make that almost all vehicles... one company, the heroic Corley Motors, still makes good, old-fashioned, stonking great motorbikes with big, fat wheels, complete with spokes and tyres and all that old-fashioned nonsense.
Malcolm Corley, the founder and chief executive of Corley Motors, is the reason that their bikes still look like bikes, and not like big metal hovering slugs. An ex-biker dude himself, he still has set ideas about what a bike consists of and how it should look, and still gets excited when he sees fast bikes (although not as excited as Marianne Faithful got in Girl On A Motorbike. I don't know what she was sitting on in that film, but it must have been good to make her pull those faces.)
Anyway, Adrian Ripburger, the vice president of Corley Motors, has never been on a motorbike in his life, thanks to a debilitating inner ear condition. Yeah, right. Complete lack of cojones, more like. Ripburger, the soulless, deviant son of a scum-sucking cockroach that he is (sorry, I get really into these plots), wants to change all this "real bike" nonsense. Bikes without wheels make more profits; it's probably something to do with the world spoke mountain, or the chronic shortage of trained rimmers. And if bikes without wheels make more profits, that's what Ripburger wants to make. He's already laid off 98 per cent of the work force, cancelled lunch breaks and introduced hard toilet paper in the name of streamlining productivity. Corley says that Ripburger will introduce the latest proposed changes over his dead body. I think we all know where this is leading...
That's where you come in. You're Ben, the leader of the Polecats; the hardest, dirtiest, most terrifying gang of all. You are the leader, despite your name. But then look at your second in command - his name's Darrell. (Snort.) Anyway, since you're the hero, you also have a streak of decency in you and some pride.
You're in the Kickstand bar with your pals, having fun breaking pool cues over the heads of Japanese tourists, or something. In comes old man Corley, and you've just started chatting about the days when he never washed his jeans, when Ripburger approaches you to see whether your gang would be prepared to act as an escort to the Corley board meeting. You say no, but he tricks you outside, you get smacked over the head and, before you know it, you're knee deep in shit. Your gang's heading off to be ambushed by the treacherous Ripburger, the old man's life is in danger, and you're just about to find out what it's like to ride one of those bikes without wheels - well, without one wheel, anyway. Your bike's been got at and it's time to taste tarmac.
From then on, things develop pretty much as they do in previous LucasArts point-and-click adventures, and, if you've played any of them from Monkey Island onwards, you'll find yourself on familiar ground.
The method of playing is always the same: pick up everything you find, keep them in your inventory, maybe combine them with other disparate things to make something new, laugh at the dialogue (except if you're playing Day of the Tentacle), get stuck... you should know the form pretty well by now.
One of the things that has developed from game to game is the control interface, and this version is different from the one seen in Sam and Max Hit the Road. Instead of clicking through a series of icons to get to the one you want, the icon itself is subdivided into different active areas. It takes the form of a biker tattoo, and doubles as the Polecats' gang patch, even appearing as a tattoo on the arm of one of the gang members. Hold the left mouse button down over an interactable object and the icon appears; move the cursor over the part you want, watch it animate for a second just for fun, then release the button and bob's your haircut. The boot kicks (which is handy for opening doors and checking tyre pressures) the hand picks up, uses and punches; the eyes of the skull examine and the mouth talks, tastes, bites, sucks or whatever. The inventory is equally bikerish, taking the form of a skull with your stuff held in its mouth. The whole thing's a lot quicker to use than the one in Sam and Max, which had the in-built annoyance factor of clicking past the icon you wanted to use so that you had to cycle through them all again.
The game looks good. There are more scenes for you to sit back and watch than has been usual to date in a LucasArts point-and-click adventure, but the quality of animation is very high. In some places, it's like watching one of the better anime films: a high number of angles are used to tell a particular part of the story, with little repetition of shots. The effect is cinematic without being boring. But don't worry, there's still plenty of puzzling to sort out. And, as usual, the humour is there. Not as much as in Sam and Max maybe, but there nonetheless. A lot of it is in the main character's deadpan delivery and hard-as-nails dialogue, but sometimes it's just in his responses to your attempted actions. Click on the mouth icon and an unsuitable object, and he says, "I'm not putting my lips on that." It's funny when he says it. Like the cd-Rom version of Sam and Max, this one's a talkie all the way, and the quality of the recorded dialogue is so good you won't need to switch the optional speech display on. Anyone who played our recent demo of the game may be a little disappointed to learn that Ben no longer says "Cool bike" when you ask him to look at his bike; "Cool ramp" when he looks at a ramp; or "Cool fridge" when he looks at a fridge. I know that I was. Ah, well. The sound effects are good, with all the bikes sounding suitably meaty, and the in-game music is appropriately guitar-orientated. Well let's face it, they could hardly have James Galway, could they? You can't have a gang of wild bikers thundering down the freeway while James gives Ace of Spades some slipper on a penny whistle.
That's about all there is to say, really. The only fault I could find with Full Throttle is the element of frustration in the lengthy combat section of the game. I don't know how much anyone buying a point-and-click adventure even wants a lengthy combat sequence. Apparently the LucasArts bods thought that since it was a biker game, you might expect to do a bit of actual biking behaviour. This is true, but they might have spread it out a little more throughout the game instead of sticking it all in one big lump. Other than that, the game looks and sounds great, has plenty of entertainment value and the usual well-judged difficulty level.
Your passage around the highways and byways of the Land of the Free will frequently be obstructed by dangerously violent nutcases riding about on enormous bikes, armed to the teeth and ready for fisticuffs - along with booticuffs, chainicuffs and tyre-levericuffs. That's okay though, because you too are a dangerously violent nutcase on an enormous bike, armed to the teeth and ready for fisticuffs, booticuffs, etc, etc...
(Obviously this top-notch joke name couldn't be fitted into Day of the Tentacle). These people will stop at nothing for a fast buck -they have no morals, no code of conduct and no style. If biker gangs were football teams, this lot would be Wimbledon. If they were films, they'd be Terminal Velocity. Like their namesakes, they spend more time than is healthy licking their own gonads.
Hang on a minute. This lot will stop at nothing for a fast buck either - and that includes manufacturing really crappy coffee mugs in the shape of the heads of the crew of the SS Enterprise, because sad Trekkie bastards will buy anything. But they also own their own patented turbo motorcycle boosters, which may come in handy for something. Oh, and Maureen used to be one, which explains her tattoo.
Cavefish have lived underground for so long they've developed really weak eyes (that's their excuse, anyway) and need special glasses to see. They emerge to ambush vehicles, which they turn into decorative ashtrays for sale on a door-to-door basis by YTS trainees. They also hold strange rites in which they worship large engines, sacrifice spark plugs and sing the theme tune to Top Gear.
So called because they never wash, never change their pants and wouldn't recognise a bar of soap if they sat on it naked. Their distinctive aroma is useful for getting a tube carriage to themselves, but that's about it, really. They're probably really good at Doom, though. Oh, and you're the leader of the Polecats. And to think you fancied your chances with Maureen the welder.
Famous gangs of our times
A lot has been made of gang culture lately. Rampaging gangs of bikers, LA and Chicago street gangs and murderous Maori tribes are all very well, but perhaps the most infamous and violent gang of all was the Duffel Coat Gang, which roamed the streets of London in the mid-'70s.
The most hardened villains lived in fear of this evil collection of motley individuals, brought together by their love of hardcore violence and wooden toggles. They terrorised the whole of the south of England for many years. A college scarf would snake out from a darkened alley to fasten itself about the
victim's neck, and they would be dragged into side-streets and given a terrific hiding. The desert boots raining down on their bodies were so soft and useless that it took ages to really beat them up; it was the sheer length of time it took to get duffed up that really struck terror into the hearts of the people.
No one ever knew what happened to the Duffel Coat Gang. Its attacks stopped as suddenly as they'd started. Some said that the gang killed each other in a fit of blood-lust; others, that they entered into a bizarre suicide pact; others still, that their desert boots simply wore out. The mystery was never solved.
Fun with face-painting
In the last LucasArts offering, Sam and Max, relief from all the adventure puzzling was provided at irregular intervals by arcade elements that required a certain amount of nous and/or hand/ eye coordination to complete successfully, like, for example, the Gator Golf game. With Full Throttle, the biker theme means that you get a reworking of the popular pursuit promoted in EA's fabbo Road Rash. In other words, you spend a fair amount of leisure time exchanging blows with members of rival bike gangs in an attempt to have them paint new stripes along the tarmac with the skin from their faces. It's all mouse controlled - the right mouse button chooses what you're going to hit someone with, and the left actually hits them, while moving the mouse steers the bike itself.
At one point in the game there's a whole section of fighting, the successful conclusion of which is essential to your progress in the game. To help you in your pummelling, you can hit people with everything from a chainsaw to a tyre lever. In fact, you could look on it as an updated version of that old scissors/paper/rock game, only at 90mph on motorbikes. For example, if they're trying to hit you round the ear with a chain, sticking a tyre lever in the way avoids the blow by wrapping the chain around it; if they think it's funny to whack you in the teeth with a plank of wood, the chainsaw may well discourage them. (For "discourage them" read "leave them lying at the roadside clutching their own stomach lining and spitting bike.")
The thing is, though, you can only get these weapons by winning them from someone else; but you can also lose them in a fight, and you can't save the game in the middle of a fight. The other thing is that, to progress in the game, you have to beat up a Cavefish to get a pair of their fancy goggles, and a Vulture to get a turbo for your bike. The problem here is that, different gangs have to be beaten in different ways. For example, the Cavefish need a mace stuck on the end of a plank of wood just to reach them (they ride hunched low over their front wheels, and if you go any nearer they squirt oil on to your tyres); and the Vultures need to be hit quickly with something effective (like a chain) before they switch on their turbos and disappear.
You can save the game by leaving the fighting area and driving elsewhere, then returning, which helps you to keep all the weapons that you collect. Nevertheless, it takes a while to work out what weapon works best against what enemy (I've just saved you a bit of time there) and then to get the weapons by beating the right people up. It's time-consuming and, at times, more than a little frustrating. The only easy targets are the ones you don't need the stuff from and, of course, the stroppy biker chicks, who seem to be there purely as knuckle-fodder.
Full Throttle is an interactive graphic adventure that enables you to hit the road...or the road to hit you. A hardcore biker and leader of a motorcycle gang called the Polecats, you've been framed for murder. Separated from the 'Cats and in danger of losing your bike, your very way of life is threatened!
The game is part whodunnit and part easy ridin'. The action mixes first-person and third-person perspectives with a seamless blend of 3D and 2D animation.
As you try to outrun the law and track down the real killer, you encounter a weird set of social misfts. You must interrogate them and hope they tell you the truth regarding important clues and the whereabouts of key items.
When you do hit the road, you can run into three rival motorcycle gangs-the Vultures, the Cavefish, and the Rottwheelers. It's your choice whether to ignore them or confront them. If you choose to fight, it's Road Rash time with major punching, kicking, and attacking with chainsaws. If you're gonna save the day, you've got to go...right, full throttle!