Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gaming News: Telltale Games Makes Adaptations an Art

I discovered Telltale Games quite on accident.  I was cruising through the PlayStation Store, trying to find something new to play, when I came across Back To The Future: The Game, and darn near fell out of my chair.  A playable Marty McFly?!  An all new adventure in the Delorean?  A Delorean I could fly?!  My geek went into overdrive.

The game itself was fun, but it was their dedication to original B2TF fans that I found most amazing.  I think first of all, one of the greatest things to me was that they consulted Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, the original writers, to make sure their storylines were cohesive and made sense in the Back to the Future universe.  I HATE when game developers and even screenwriters create sequels without giving respect to the original story.  To my personal excitement, Christopher Lloyd not only agreed to allow his likeness be used in the game, but also signed on to voice Dr. Emmett Brown.  GREAT SCOTT! Telltale also secured smaller roles like that of the original Jennifer, Claudia Wells, and made sure to include Doc's dog Einstein.
While Michael J. Fox also agreed to allow his likeness to be used, his battling Parkinson's disease made it pretty clear that he wouldn't be able to reprise his role as Marty through voice work.  Playing Marty McFly is AJ LoCascio, an amazingly spot-on replacement. There were times while playing, that I almost forgot it wasn't Michael J. Fox!  To give your heart an extra pitter-patter, Michael J. Fox actually does get some air time by voicing a McFly ancestor as well as three alternative future Marty's in the final episode.

For the first portion of the game, you basically replay the time travel scene from the original movie.  Only a second glance shows you that the JCPenny behind Marty, isn't really named JCPenny.  It looks THAT spot-on.  Doc says his lines, straight from the movie, and then you are allowed to choose the appropriate responses. Here's where being a nut about the movies really comes in, because if you choose the exact things Marty said in the film version, you earn a trophy (on the PS3).   But this is just about the only place where the original movie series gets any real play.  The rest of the game is an all new adventure that explores time and space in ways that the movie just hadn't gotten around to, and that fans of the series will LOVE.

When the game was first released, Telltale released it by episode.  This made for a fun, almost sitcom-like way to play.  It was originally released on PC, then Playstation, then IPAD.  Now that the first "season" is complete, you can purchase the entire game on your Wii or Xbox as well.  Purchases also give donations to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  I bought us a copy for the library to use during our Flashback month in January.

I was really impressed with the Back to the Future series and the way it fit believably into the Back to the Future world I already knew and they'd also done a fairly good job with the CSI and Jurassic Park games as well.  So fancy my excitement when I found out that this same company would be handling the upcoming Walking Dead video game.

It went something like this:
If you haven't read The Walking Dead, you are MISSING OUT.
Just watching it on AMC doesn't count.  Seriously, there is so much more happening in the graphic novels than I could even begin to talk about here so I won't even try.  If you love stories about humanity and how frail it is in the face of disaster, you must read this series.  That's all there is to it.

Zombies aside, The Walking Dead focuses on human life and the desire for survival even in the midst of insanity.  Creator Robert Kirkman has said repeatedly that the purpose of the series is not to scare us with Zombies, but rather with the actions of regular human beings when faced with unbelievable choices and consequences.  He nailed it, the AMC series has recreated it quite beautifully, and now Telltale games will bring it to the game console.

Whenever the series is finally released, it will be in a similar fashion to most Telltale games, through episodes, and players will assume that they are playing in the interim of the events of season one of the television series, though from a new perspective. I cannot wait.  IGN did a brief interview with the game developers and I must say I'm even MORE excited now than I was from my imagination alone.  Unlike other Zombie games, where the focus is on gore and melee, this game will focus on the more mundane and therefore more frighteningly realistic parts of surviving, such as just walking past an alley or fending off a changed babysitter.

For outstanding graphics, I think I'll stick to a few other developers and what they bring to the table. For instance, no one can knock off Rockstar or Rocksteady in my gaming world right now.  BUT, for great adaptations that build on the worlds I've grown to love in movies or books, Telltale is knocking me off my feet.  I seriously recommend you grab one of their games and see for yourself.


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