Never has the fallibility of memory been clearer than when revisiting video games from the past. It can be surprising just how big the gulf between recollection and reality can be, leaving you to wonder if your brain just might be responsible for some of the greatest video game remasters of all time. As with last year's re-release of Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle Remastered represents another chance to reconcile memory and reality, and if you're unfamiliar with this classic LucasArts point-and-click adventure, it also happens to be the best way to experience a title that holds up surprisingly well in an era where episodic Telltale adventures are king.
Taking on the role of Ben Throttle – leader of the Polecats biker gang – you'll find yourself embroiled in a noir story of murder and betrayal that could threaten the very future of motorbikes. The setting, plot, and characters in Full Throttle are perhaps its biggest strength, and the world it transports you to feels reminiscent of that in the very first Mad Max film, offering up a fascinating version of America that – while still clearly functioning – has a pervading feel of lawlessness to it. It also cleverly avoids explaining too many aspects of its world, never feeling the need to delve into lengthy exposition, and leaving your imagination to run wild while it concentrates on delivering its tightly paced story.
As you'd expect from a game designed and written by the Tim Schafer – the man behind titles such as Grim Fandango and Psychonauts – it's full of cleverly written, interesting characters, who in-turn are brought to life by a strong cast of top-notch voice-actors to deliver a tale that has managed to stand the test of time surprisingly well.
Despite these strengths, though, there were some LucasArts fans who were ultimately disappointed by Full Throttle when it originally came out. This was a time when you'd reasonably expect to be picking up dozens of items in an adventure game in order to solve obtuse puzzles that would stump you for hours, all because you struggled to make some bizarre leaps of logic. And in that light some felt Full Throttle focus on narrative was ultimately short changing the player.
Coming back to it now it's clear there was a cinematic drive to Full Throttle which manifested itself in a tightly paced story that just wasn't being offered by its peers. It doesn't want you to get bogged down working out that you need to use the monkey to turn off the water, and instead presents you with a convoy of focused, self-contained puzzles that have subtly signposted solutions that are fun to find – especially when it involves getting Ben to kick something really hard.
While this more streamlined approach to the puzzle design will help it resonate well with a modern audience, it does still stumble during a couple of poorly controlling vehicle combat sections that crop up during its four to five hour story. From a video game preservation point of view it's great that these sections return, warts and all, but given the number of quality of life improvements added to this remaster – such as being able to highlight interactive parts of each environment to avoid having to do too much pixel hunting – it would have been nice to see a more modern spin that could have made these parts of the experience more palatable as well.
After all, a lot of work's been put into this remaster to update pretty much anything that didn't involve messing around with the fundamental gameplay. Do you want fully remastered audio, including the songs provided for the game by obscure Californian rock outfit The Gone Jackals? You got it. Do you want a complete overhaul of the graphics, with the option to switch on the fly back to the original 4:3 pixel art? That's here as well, and boy do the jazzed up visuals look nice. In fact, anyone unfamiliar with the game could easily think this was a newly released title, if only it wasn't for the aforementioned vehicle sections, and the occasional visual mix of 3D vehicle models and 2D art that reveal its mid-nineties origins.
As was the case with developer Double Fine's previous remasters of both Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle, this release is also a treasure trove of Full Throttle history. Offering up a chance to see a raft of concept art, as well as listen to a commentary with select members of the development team, it provides a frequently fascinating insight into the creative process. It's all great stuff that'll be of interest to anyone curious about how Full Throttle came about, and helps elevate the quality of this remaster to a level far above the procession of pedestrian re-releases that have infested this console generation.
Whether you're looking to revisit a title from the heyday of the point-and-click adventure or coming to Full Throttle for the first time to see just why gamers of a certain age keep banging on about it, Full Throttle Remastered is the LucasArts adventure that feels most comfortable in the present day. With a focus on characters and story over complex puzzles, it feels like a premonition of the direction adventure games were to take over the next two decades, and it's a pleasure to see it get a new coat of paint and take to the road for one last ride.