Back to the Future ep2 HD not only breeds alternate timelines, but alternate performances for the iPad and iPad2.
You pick up exactly where you left off in episode 1. You’ve just rescued Doc Brown from certain death and you’re both back at the Delorean ready to return to 1986 until Marty begins to vanish. A tell tale sign that the duo’s meddling has caused something to go horribly wrong. Kid Tannen was supposed to end up behind bars but Marty’s interference on the timeline has shifted the outcome and a new, alternate timeline where the Tannen’s rule Hill Valley is created. So it’s up to Marty and Doc to put things right, but as we’re all probably aware by now, it’s never that simple…
Back in February I reviewed Back to the Future ep1 HD, highlighting it’s fantastic voice work and story as well as bringing to your attention it’s crippling performance issues on the first generation iPad.
Telltale Games have now gotten around to releasing episode 2 on the iPad (The first time they have released a 2nd episode of any series on the iPad) and it appears that performance concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Granted these issues don’t make the game outright unplayable but they do take you out of the zone on multiple occasions. Right from the beginning if you’re playing on the first generation iPad you’ll experience jerkiness and choppy audio. I did notice a drop in the resolution on some textures in this version too, see my screenshot to the right for a comparison of a photograph in your inventory from episode 1, and that same photograph in episode 2. I suppose this was Telltale’s idea of a performance fix?
The games performance isn’t capped for the iPad, so iPad2 owners, you’re in luck! You should be able to experience the game running at the quality and speed that it should be enjoyed at but you’ll still have to put up with a dodgy virtual stick.
Having played the series on the Mac as well, the lack of usability and performance is something that really sticks in my mind when playing through once more, just knowing I could have a far better experience, and at a cheaper price on a laptop I find it hard to fully enjoy my time playing this on the iPad.
Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there, moving away from the performance and focusing more on the story there are some glaring continuity issues. Perhaps forgiven in other games, but when time travel is involved continuity in all forms should be key!
First and foremost Marty carries a photograph of George McFly in his inventory, the artwork used for this was changed from the original PC release for the iPad, but when Marty looks at the photo in the opening cutscene it’s the PC artwork and not the iPad version. Another gripe is Marty’s pseudonym, going back once more to episode 1, when you arrive in 1931 you are asked your name and you can choose from a small selection including Sonny Croquet and Michael Corleone. The point being that the name you choose stays with you throughout the entire series, but in episode 2 the other characters would constantly be mixing up the names. One minute you’d be referred to as Corleone, and other times Sonny, in some cases within the span of 2 dialogue sequences next to each other! It’s just yet another mood breaker.
On a lighter note of things to expect though, the story is even stronger in episode 2, the characters now been well established if you’ve played through episode 1 so you can really begin to see both them and a bigger picture evolve. The puzzles remain relatively simple to appeal to a larger audience but the manner in which they are solved feels much more rewarding this time round. The story progresses at a great pace and when you briefly travel back to 1986 you get to play through an, albeit brief, but nifty alternate timeline. You’re also introduced to two more characters, Trixie Trotter and Office Parker, who are both of course tied into the main characters lives along all points in time.
The story along with the voice acting and overall experience severely outweigh the glaring performance issues and technical holes for first generation iPad users. Episode 2 is neither an overall improvement nor regression from episode 1, as the title suggests, it’s a continuation. With that in mind the final score for episode 2 remains unchanged from episode 1.