To get this off my chest right from the start: I'm neither a teenager, nor in any sort of midlife crisis. Not the best prerequisites to enjoy a game about middle-aged, burly (and apparantely a little simple) men whose life consists of driving around on comical, impractical vehicles. At the risk of being beaten to pulp to bald guys with beer bellies: bikers are not cool!
Full Throttle came out at a time when Lucas Arts could have released anything, though, and I would still have bought it without second thoughts. What I got story-wise is a somewhat unexplained and quirky 'futuristic' setting: Apparantely, there's just one manufacturer of motorcycles left - Corley Motors. Its founder and boss, Malcolm Corley, is on the way to the shareholders meeting with his second-in-command Adrian Ripburger. Ripburger, being clearly evil, is trying to take over the company and have it produce minivans instead. To achieve this, he goes as far as killing Corley and framing the murder on the protagonist. Cue to standard prove-your-innocence-and-make-the-bad-guy-pay story.
Now, this story remains a little sketchy, and the paper-thin characters don't exactly help. Already in the intro, there are a few eyebrow-raising moments. For example, why does Malcolm Corley, self-professed ex-biker, have anything against the idea of having a gang accompany them to the meeting - only to shout "Now there's some boys I could ride with!" 30 seconds later? Why does Corley have the villanous Ripburger around him anyway? "You've got business instincts that I respect", he claims - yet later, he says Ripburger belongs in prison. And Ripburger himself? What's his motivation for turning Corley Motors in a minivan producer? If he were in it just for the profits, why throw a monopoly away? It must be about some kind of 'evil conspiracy' thingy - but that's never really explained. If your own connotation with bikers is 'freedom' or whatever along these lines, you'll probably get it implicitely.
Being Lucas Arts' first real CD-based Adventure (although CD versions of their former releases exist, they were still primarily floppy games juiced up a little), expectations concerning the production values were high. Surprisingly, they went a very conservative route technically: Graphics are in the classic 320x200 resolution instead of the trendy 'high-res' of those days. There are spots of 3D modelled imagery, but this is used sparingly and incorporated well into the hand-drawn surroundings. As so often, less is more, making Full Throttle much more attractive to look at than most games of that time.
Of course, all dialogue has been recorded. Voice acting is generally alright, but with a large range. The protagonist (Ben) fits very well with his monosyllabic tough-guy character (as long as one assumes that the game is meant to be funny - which I wasn't completely sure of at times - but he does get some good lines). Ripburger, on the other hand, voiced by Mark 'I had no roles since Luke Skywalker' Hamill, isn't even funny as a caricature! I'm all for clichéd 'evil' villains, but this one doesn't even have any style with his in-your-face villainous tone.
However, the key term was 'production value'. Again, Lucas Arts understood this a lot better than their competitors: It's not the technology involved, but the way you're using it. And so, in spite of certain shortcomings, Full Throttle is one of the most 'cinematic' games ever produced - easily surpassing all those 'interactive movies' of the time in that area. Why? Sure, it has no 'real' actors, but it has the 'feel' of a movie. The style of narration (the first few lines actually had me hoping this would go into a 'noir-ish' direction - which it didn't), the cutting technique, the use of music - that's the key components. A huge achievement in this respect (and quite frankly, this is the only reason the game gets an above-average rating).
Now this review is already twice as long as some others, yet there hasn't been a single word about gameplay yet. That's for a reason: There isn't much to say. Everything you've already read is true: The game is short, the game is easy. It's basically a large cutscene with the player only doing a few clicks here and there in between. Puzzles are virtually absent (opening a lock with a lockpick doesn't count as a puzzle) and the goals are always explicitely spelt out for you ("Get me these three things from these three accessable places"). With your inventory being automatically emptied every few minutes, there isn't much to try out, either. Disappointing.
The only places where you might be stuck for a while is the action scenes. One particular annoying one takes place in the middle of the game: You have to win a series of duels against other bikers. Not racing duels, but beating duels (while driving). At least they tried to make it interesting by including different weapons which can be used with differing efficiency against the different opponents, but again, that's paper-thin and once you've figured it out, you still have to go through yet more annoying encounters waiting for a specific enemy from whom you need something to turn up.
Well... it's hard to give this game a rating. It should be already obvious it's an utterly disappointing affair, yet disappointment is also caused by high expectations. You can't blame a game for coming from a company which usually does way better. And, as mentioned somewhere along the way, the game does have a certain edge in its storytelling (as stupid as the story may be) and audiovisual techniques. So, I'm giving Full Throttle a 4 - reluctantly and barely.