|[[Image:The cover artwork for Full Throttle|250px]]|
INSANE (cut scenes)
Full Throttle is a computer adventure game created by Tim Schafer. The game features voice actors Roy Conrad and Mark Hamill (of Star Wars fame). It was developed in-house and released by LucasArts on April 30, 1995. It is the tenth game to use the SCUMM adventure game engine.
Players view Ben, the protagonist, in third-person. Using the mouse, players click the left button to move him and hold it over certain objects to view their interactive options; a graphic menu rendered as a flaming skull displays a fist ("use", "grab" or "hit"), eyes ("examine"), tongue ("speak" or "taste") and boot ("kick"). After the menu appears, the player then selects one of these icons for the desired interaction. The inventory of collected tools or weapons was invoked by right-clicking anywhere on the screen. It also contains portions where the player is required to drive, combating enemy bikers with punches and kicks, and later chains, planks, and other crude weapons.
Dialogue plays a large part in the game, during which story elements and information necessary to advance are presented. Several choices of dialogue are presented in certain situations, allowing players to choose the path of conversation and ultimately advance the scene by selecting the right choice of words (something common in several LucasArts adventure games of the era).
The game, somewhat in contrast to other SCUMM engine games, may present situations where the player can die. During some sequences, it is possible to make a wrong choice of action, or react too slow, resulting in killing the main character. Such events are followed with Ben's voiceover ("Let me try that again" or "Damn"), after which the sequence starts over to allow the player to retry. There are no "lives" nor "game over" messages in Full Throttle and players may retry as often as necessary to advance.
The story is set in a dystopian future where motorized vehicles are giving way to anti-gravitational hovercrafts. A hardened biker named Ben is the leader of a motorcycle gang called the Polecats. As his gang rides down Highway 9, they come across an expensive white hovercraft limousine. Ben, in the lead, unceremoniously drives over the limousine, crushing the hood ornament. Unknown to the gang, the limo belongs to Malcolm Corley, the CEO and founder of the last domestic motorcycle manufacturer in the country, Corley Motors. Intrigued and impressed, Corley demands his driver catch up to the gang.
As Ben and his gang relax at the Kick Stand Bar, Corley approaches. Malcolm befriends Ben with stories of his past adventures as a biker. Before long, Corley's sinister vice president Adrian Ripburger enters the bar and asks to speak to Ben privately, outside. He asks Ben to have the Polecats appear at the upcoming annual Corley Motors shareholder's meeting as an "escort". When Ben declines, he is knocked out and thrown in a dumpster by Nestor and Bolus, malicious henchmen of Adrian Ripburger. Ben later awakes and attempts to link up with the Polecats, whom Ripburger has coerced into escorting Corley to the shareholder's meeting. However, Ben finds that his bike had been sabotaged when he attempts to catch up. After crashing and falling unconscious, he is discovered by a reporter named Miranda, who manages to bring him to "just the right person". When he awakens, he meets a female mechanic named Maureen (or Mo for short), who patches up his bike with a few parts she asks Ben to retrieve.
Ben finds his gang waiting for Corley while he's in the restroom at a road stop. Meanwhile, Miranda witnesses Ripburger murder Corley outside of the restroom, and manages to take pictures. Bolus snatches the camera while Miranda escapes. After they leave, Ben discovers Corley, and with his dying words, he tells Ben that Ripburger did this to take over the company and he intends to produce mini-vans instead of motorcycles. Ben must set things straight by finding his daughter, who is revealed to be Maureen.
With his gang now jailed in connection to Corley's murder, Ben crosses the desert as a framed fugitive to find a way to clear his name, save his gang, and prevent Ripburger from turning Corley Motors into a minivan producer. He crosses paths with other motorcycle gangs: the speed-addicted Vultures (of which Mo is later found to be a member), the brutal Rottwheelers, and the enigmatic Cavefish. After much ado, which included crossing the Devil's Canyon using Vulture's accelerating device, Mo's attempt on Ben's life (since she is assured Ben has murdered her father, and remains so until she sees the pictures Miranda have made) and the fiery demise of Ripburger's henchmen, Ben arrives at the shareholders meeting in time to catch Ripburger announcing his reign over the company. Ben and Maureen expose Ripburger as the murderer with the pictures Miranda took, and broadcast the last will and testament of Malcolm Corley, who names Mo the rightful successor to his company. Exposed, Ripburger flees the scene. As Ben and Maureen ride away, Ripburger makes one final attempt to ram them off the road in his semi-truck. Maureen's gang, The Vultures, arrive in time in a land-driven cargo plane to immobilize Ripburger's truck. The vehicle comes to a screeching halt over a bridge demolished earlier in the game, and after a final conflict, Ripburger is dropped into the gorge below. Corley's funeral follows, and with the Polecats freed and Maureen in her rightful place, Ben rides into the sunset on his bike.
- Ben (voiced by Roy Conrad) is the protagonist of the game and a biker gang leader, though the other Polecats spend most of the game in prison with Ben trying to get them out of it. Ben's entire name appears only in the manual as "Ben Whatsisname". Tim Schafer stated that Ben's last name is "Throttle" but it wasn't included in the game because of fears of a legal action by the producers of Biker Mice from Mars, which featured a character by the name of Throttle..
- Maureen "Mo" Corley (voiced by Kath Soucie) is Malcolm Corley's illegitimate daughter and, secretly, a member of the Vultures. She has a stoic and skeptic personality, and works as a mechanic. At the end of the game, she inherits her father's company and abandons her biker lifestyle. However, as shown in the trailer, she was supposed to return as a biker in the sequel.
- Malcolm Corley (voiced by Hamilton Camp) is the owner of Corley Motors, the last domestic motorcycle manufacturer, and a patriarch of the biker society respected equally by all gangs.
- Adrian Ripburger (voiced by Mark Hamill) is the Vice-President of Corley Motors and the main antagonist of the game. .
- Bolus (voiced by Jack Angel) is Malcolm Corley's bodyguard, secretly in league with Adrian Ripburger.
- Nestor (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) is Malcolm Corley's driver, also in league with Ripburger, who describes him as the "smart one" of the two henchmen.
- Suzi (voiced by Tress MacNeille) is the leader of the Vultures. She is the brains behind an operation to stop Ripburger.
- Father Torque (voiced by Hamilton Camp) is the former leader of the Polecats. As the "wise old man", he gives Ben advice on his journey.
- Darrel (voiced by Nick Jameson) is second in command of the Polecats under Ben.
- Emmet (voiced by Mark Hamill) is a long-haul trucker with an intense hatred towards police and bikers. He is killed when the Cavefish attempt to hijack his truck.
- Todd Newlan (voiced by Mark Hamill) lives in a trailer in Melonweed. He owns a junkyard. His best (and only) friend is his dog.
- Miranda Rose Wood (voiced by Pat Musick) is a news reporter who saves Ben in the beginning of the game. She witnesses and photographs the murder of Malcolm Corley.
- Quohog (voiced by Mal Friedman) is the bartender of the Kickstand. He's a bit of a coward, and easily pushed around.
- Horrace (voiced by Bill Farmer) is a souvenir salesman at the Corley stadium. According to the game's manual, he had taken too many falls from bikes without a helmet, but Corley expressed sympathy and gave him a job.
- Mavis (voiced by Nick Jameson) is the projectionist for the Corley Motors shareholder meeting presentation.
- The Polecats are a relatively normal, outlawed biker gang led by Ben. They spend most of the game off-screen in prison.
- The Rottwheelers are considered to be dumb, ugly brutes, reflected in their choice of heavy, powerful vehicles.
- The Vultures are a reclusive gang that favour extremely fast, agile machines.
- The Cavefish are an underground biker cult known for psychotic behaviour, eccentric dress and strange technology.
Full Throttle was released only on CD-ROM, featuring a full voiceover soundtrack. The project was led by Day of the Tentacle creator Tim Schafer, who was also its writer and designer. It was also one of the few LucasArts games to use externally recorded music, courtesy of The Gone Jackals. Certain tracks from their then current album, Bone to Pick, were featured in the game. The track that supported the game's introduction was a shortened version of "Legacy", the album's second track.
Full Throttle employed several skilled voice acting professionals, such as Roy Conrad, Kath Soucie, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, Hamilton Camp, Steven Jay Blum and Mark Hamill. Full Throttle was the first computer game to employ mostly SAG-registered professional voice actors instead of relying entirely on in-house talent, and also featured a few pieces of licensed music.
According to Tim Schafer, Full Throttle originally would have featured a sequence where Ben undergoes a peyote-induced hallucinogenic trip. This was eventually ejected from the game, because the developers couldn't get it to "work out" with the publishing. The concept eventually became the basis of Psychonauts.
Being a title from LucasArts, a few Star Wars references were worked into the game. Truck driver Emmet is seen with an Imperial logo tattoo on his right forearm in one scene, and a rival driver during the demolition derby sequence was illustrated to look like George Lucas. Also, in a scene where Ben is talking to the reporter, Miranda, she says "Help me Ben, You're my only hope!", a paraphrase of a classic Star Wars line.
Reception and legacy
The game received, according to MetaCritic, generally favorable reviews, and has over the time become a cult classic of adventure games. Weak points of the game included its linearity and short duration — elements that brought the game in comparison to Loom. Full Throttle retains a stable fanbase that keeps developing the setting and the story on their own, for example, through modules for a popular role-playing game system Fudge.
65daysofstatic used an audio clip from the game for their song "Asphalt and Trouble", whose title is derived from said audio.
In spring 2000, LucasArts began production of Full Throttle: Payback, an official sequel to continue the storyline of Full Throttle. Since Tim Schafer already left the company at the time, Larry Ahern, who was involved in the original game's development, was appointed the project lead and Bill Tiller, the art director. Both Ahern and Tiller left LucasArts in 2001, after Payback was canceled. At the early stages, the project received positive feedback from other LucasArts employees but according to Tiller, it eventually fell apart because of disagreements on the game style between the productive team and "a particularly influential person" within the management, which lead to a series of "mistakes". The production has ceased in November 2000, when 25% of the levels and about 40% of the preproduction art were complete. LucasArts never released an official statement regarding the game cancellation.
The story would have focused on Ben's efforts to foil a plan by a "large corporation" and the local governor to replace all paved highways with hover pads, robbing the bikers and truckers of their traditional ground. In the first half of the game, Ben would have prevented an assassination attempt on Father Torque, who now leads the anti-hovercraft rally, then team up with a "persistent undercover female reporter" to bring down the villainous governor. In Tiller's opinion, Payback "was going to capture the feel of the first game yet expand upon the milieu".
In mid 2002, LucasArts announced Full Throttle: Hell on Wheels for Windows and, for the first time in the series, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The game was to be an action-adventure, with more emphasis on action and fighting than adventure. Sean Clark was named the project lead of Hell on Wheels and the development progressed smoothly until late 2003, when it was abruptly canceled. Just months prior to that, at E3 2003, a playable demo was shown and a teaser trailer was released by LucasArts. Simon Jeffery said that LucasArts "do not want to disappoint the many fans of Full Throttle, and hope everyone can understand how committed [LucasArts] are to delivering the best-quality gaming experience that [LucasArts] possibly can" in the official press release. Critics cited poor graphics compared to other 3D action adventures of the time and Tim Schafer's a lack of involvement in the project as possible reasons for its cancellation. Additionally, Roy Conrad, the original voice actor for Ben, died in 2002.
Hell on Wheels would have been set in El Nada, Ben's "old stomping ground", whose roads have been mysteriously destroyed. Ben believes that one of the new gangs introduced in the game, the Hound Dogs, are behind this but soon discovers a more sinister and murderous plot. Together with Father Torque and Maureen, he would have thwarted the (unnamed) villain's plan and protected "the freedom of the open road".
Critics hold development of new sequels to Full Throttle as unlikely. LucasArts' interest shifted away from adventure genre in recent years, and failure to develop two sequels will presumably hinder the possibility of a third. Also, nearly all developers who were involved with the original Full Throttle in 1995 have since left LucasArts.
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- Full Throttle at Rotten Tomatoes
- Full Throttle: Hell on Wheels at Rotten Tomatoes
- "Full Throttle Graphic Novel" by Nikita "Fjodin" Kondratov
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