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Back to the Future The Game: Episode 3: Citizen Brown
Score: 87%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
Back to the Future The Game: Episode 3: Citizen Brown is a win/ lose situation for Marty and Doc. The pair have been able to brave Hill Valley 1931, restoring Marty to the timeline and helping Doc break out of jail - finally allowing him to return home and get the bank issues cleared up. But, as is always the case when it concerns time travel - one little hiccup changes everything.

Citizen Brown continues the same trend set by past episodes. There are loads of throwbacks to the movies, with great execution. I especially liked the guitar battle section; take note of some of Marty's moves. My only real complaint is the proportion issues stemming from the series' art direction. The game is going for a cartoon look, so some exaggeration is expected, though there are trouble spots. Jennifer's head is huge compared to other characters, and there are some trouble spots on Marty's mom. I can't put my finger on it, but something seemed off.

Both the voicework and music is spot on, which is expected. Jennifer, once again, got under my skin, but I absolutely loved George McFly. It was perfect.

Just to recap: The previous two episodes took Marty back to 1931 to break Doc out of jail. He's able to help Doc out, but in the process Marty inadvertently screws up his family's timeline and is almost erased from existence when his grandfather is murdered after giving testimony against a gangster. Though he is able to restore his timeline, he accidently pushes a younger Doc and Edna Strickland closer together.

Back to the Future The Game: Episode 3: Citizen Brown picks up with Marty crashing the DeLorean in an alternate 1986. As a result of Doc and the civic-minded Edna's romance, the two have completely transformed Hill Valley into self-sustaining police state. There's a mandatory uniform, the city is walled off from the outside world and everything is banned.

Of the three episodes released, Citizen Brown is the most complete. The story is great and, unlike the previous two games, there's a bigger issue at stake. Not that Marty disappearing wasn't a big deal, but this story has a heavier weight to it. There's are vibes of both 1984 and THX 1138 running through the story, which I really like.

There's also a more diverse cast, with slightly more complicated storylines, issues and relationships. Marty's parents show up and play a major part in the game as does Jennifer, which is neat.

Puzzles feel more organic to the story than previous episodes. The main form of punishment in Citizen Brown's Hill Valley is demerits. The first section involves Marty trying to do everything he can to earn enough demerits to win an audience with Citizen Brown, which is fun. There are a few story-related ones, though you can also spend time trying to find other ways to earn demerits (there's even a Trophy waiting if you figure them all out).

The better connection between the story and puzzles makes them easier, though the actual steps are slightly more complicated. Because you're going for a clear story goal, there's a more intuitive connection between everything and sense of direction. At the same time, you're never quite sure how to get there. You'll see the road, but there's no clear signpost, which I enjoyed. I actually had to make use of the hint system for two puzzles. It's not exactly a signal of defeat, though I like that I had the chance to use the system at least once.

The best advice I can give is make sure you listen to every bit of dialogue and make sure you watch everything. One of the puzzles that gave me problems was, it turns out, incredibly simple. Only, I overlooked a small visual clue and completely whiffed out on the solution.

Game Mechanics:
Back to the Future The Game: Episode 3: Citizen Brown uses the same underlying mechanics as previous episodes, but makes enough changes to show that someone is actually taking notes and working to improve the experience.

After two games' worth of camera issues, Citizen Brown is the first where I had no issues at all. There was a slight shifting of camera angles in Get Tannen!, which Citizen Brown completely fixes. For instance, in the previous two episodes, walking into the alley behind the soup kitchen always came with a dramatic angle shift. That problem is gone. Pieces of the town square, another trouble spot, are also fixed.

There's still an inventory issue, where buttons don't do what on-screen indicators suggest, but after two episodes, I've finally overcome the issue. I made more use of the node-movement system, which I think I prefer. Rather than using the stick to move Marty to a hotspot, I instead pressed the shoulder triggers, bringing up orange spots I could then navigate with an arrow key. It's an easier system.

Back to the Future The Game: Episode 3: Citizen Brown is, to date, the best entry in the episodic series. The mesh of story and puzzles is great, leading to a major gameplay improvement. Citizen Brown is great, and it can only get better from here.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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