Back to the Future The Game: Episode 2: Get Tannen! is a direct continuation of Marty and Doc’s adventures in Hill Valley, 1931. After getting Doc out of jail, the duo think the timeline has been restored, but just as they’re ready to hit 88 MPH and go home, Marty starts disappearing, suggesting something is wrong with the timeline.
As with the previous game, Get Tannen! manages to hit all the right bits of nostalgia without going too campy. There aren’t as many presentational throwback moments, though sharp-eyed (and eared) players will pick up couple of references. Christopher Lloyd is back as Doc and AJ LoCascio does a great job as Marty. The visuals are great; they’re realistic but with Telltale’s cartoonish style. There are a few proportional things that bothered the hell out of me, though otherwise I loved the game’s presentation.
In Back to the Future The Game: Episode 2: Get Tannen! Marty has to keep his grandfather, Artie, from getting wacked by the Tannen gang for going to the DA in the first episode. The cool thing about Get Tannen! is the game is able to jump right into the story. There’s no need to develop characters; instead, we already know everyone. We learn a little more about a few (who knew Cueball was a musician?) and meet two new interesting characters. One is Jennifer’s (Marty’s girlfriend) grandfather, a cop whose life you ruined, and Trixie, Hill Valley’s “It Girl” who plays a major role in the story.
Get Tannen! uses the same nuts and bolts as the previous episode, though Telltale has fixed a few issues. First, the game is much faster. The first episode took time to get where it needed to go and, by then, it was over. Here, you jump into a couple of neat puzzles. Early in the game, you have to muck around in previous events without running into Marty’s future-past self (pluperfect?). There’s also an elaborate system where you try to distract all of Tannen’s toadies.
Puzzles are a little easier than the previous episode, which is disappointing. After the first episode, I expected a slightly bigger difficulty jump. Most branch off the usual fetch-quest setup, though there is a more involved puzzle involving music and making sure a couple of specific character dominos line up in place. The latter puzzle requires some trial-and-error problem solving to get the sequence right, though you’re never punished for being wrong. The only thing you lose is time, which isn’t a big deal. I took a long time with the puzzle and still managed to finish the episode in less than two hours.
If you need a hint or two, there is an in-game help system. The system is great; it gives just enough information to point you in the right direction, but doesn’t spoil the puzzle for you.
I am still getting used to the control system. It is easy to use but takes some time to get a feel for, at least if you’re coming from the point-based control background. Rather than moving to a spot by clicking on it, you control Marty with the left stick. It is probably Telltale’s best console-based system, though it does introduce a few camera issues. Each area is static, with the camera locked into position. The issues are similar to Resident Evil; you will enter an area, the camera view switches and suddenly one direction sends Marty into another. Telltale has tweaked a few of the camera problems; most angles are consistent from view-to-view, though there are still a couple of trouble areas.
I’m still not onboard with the inventory system. Pressing (Square) brings up the inventory, but you have to press (X) to use the item. The setup makes sense when you explain it, but I had to remind myself to press (X) rather than going by what I saw on screen.
Back to the Future The Game: Episode 2: Get Tannen! is every bit as good as the previous episode, though it seems like Telltale is still in the process of figuring out both the pacing and puzzle difficulty level to fit with the game’s “separate, but one big game” format. With three episodes to go, there’s still time to experiment and it does not hurt the game at all.