Justification 3

Full Throttle
PC / 1995 / Developer & Publisher: Lucasarts Entertainment Company LLC.

In a good game, you can tell a lot by the way the player is introduced to his in-game character. When we take control of Full Throttle's Ben, we find him punching his way out from the inside of a garbage dumpster.

Full Throttle was a point-and-click that didn't pull any of its punches-- bad things happened, people died, and sometimes the solution to the puzzle was just to kick the damn door down. The gameworld was oppressive, dust-choked, and generally unfriendly; the supporting cast ranged from simply duplicitous to outright homicidal. But the game used its terse characterization to make me genuinely care about the sympathetic characters of Ben, Maureen, and old man Corley, from the initial rush of the opening sequence, to the tragic turning point at the end of the first act, to the devastatingly bittersweet ending sequence. Full Throttle told a melancholy tale of a handful of people-- not video game characters, but what felt like real people-- thrown together by fate, irrevocably changed, only to be scattered to the winds again as the sun set over the desert highway. The game had levity, sure, but it also had real gravitas, where almost no other game has.

Full Throttle deserves praise for standing out from the rest of the Lucasarts point-and-clicks. Unlike Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max Hit the Road, or Monkey Island, Full Throttle manages to be funny without being silly, and to tell a meaningful, human story through the conventions of the genre without ever taking itself over-seriously. It's an incredible balancing act, and in my opinion just about the pinnacle of what a 2D point-and-click could aspire to. I feel lucky to have played a masterpiece like this during my formative years.


tentonipete said...

Beneath a Steel Sky was good too.

It's easy to tell how old you are from the games you played. Exactly the same ones as me.

Unknown said...

Well put. Another aspect of Full Throttle's story I really like (and many other LucasArts adventures for that matter) is that you can easily imagine what the characters are doing in their off-screen time, which makes them seem more real.

When you meet up with Maureen again later in the game and she's suddenly with that gang in that airplane, it makes sense. She's been working on her own plan.

Often in games it feels like the supporting characters never really pursue their goals or do anything important when they're not on screen. They don't seem to be actual agents in the world, they're just there whenever they're necessary for the main protagonist's plot line.

Also Full Throttle's ending is like a Matryoshka doll of hilarious awesomeness. One of the best game endings ever.