GAME NAME: Flashback
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, PS3
GENRE(S): Action, Platformer
RELEASE DATE(S): August 21st, 2013
A flashback is defined as a tool used in a narrative to return to something in the past; to show how it affected the present. That said, if this game is anything to go by, you won’t be wanting to flashback to any part of it at all, and any that you do flashback to will probably be of the nightmarish kind. Harsh words to open a review with, but they’re sadly fitting when it comes to Flashback; it actually hurts to continue to write about the game. There are just so many things wrong with it that one has to wonder what the developers were thinking.
For those who don’t know, Flashback is a remake of a game from 1992 (admittedly, I have never played it in full, and I don’t want to, ever). The game takes place in a futuristic world of sorts, where your character, Conrad B. Hart, of the GBI (Galaxia Bureau of Investigation), has to protect Earth from an alien attack… or something to that effect. It’s a 2D action, platformer, puzzle type game apparently, but I think that the biggest puzzle in the game is figuring out what in actual fu… fact is going on.
The alien attack part is obvious, and so is your character’s desire to save the planet, but what is confusing is why exactly he erased his memory to do so. Sure, it becomes a bit clearer towards the end, but the whole subplot is mostly pointless. Oh, Mr Conrad also needs to save Sonia, because if he doesn’t, then one of the story’s other plots would waste your time (oh wait…). Anyway, the story in Flashback is clearly not the main focus.
Well that’s not entirely true. It’s more like any sort of focus is non-existent at all, as Flashback gets just about everything wrong. If the confusing mess of a story isn’t quite enough for you, the game decided to include some of the most terrible platforming known to man. Jumping from ledges is a chore, and half the time you end up jumping the wrong way completely, or missing the mark. The shooting mechanic works by aiming with the right analogue stick and pressing fire, but it’s far too erratic to enjoy. Conrad can also duck, roll and enable a short timed force field to deflect shots. He can also use special goggles to see hidden items, and if you push the B button, you will punch, but any attempt at melee may have you throwing your control at the screen as you tend to punch thin air a lot of the time.
Stealth mechanics were also included, for some reason. You can creep up behind an enemy and execute them, but be careful if you decide to do so, the animation has a 50% chance of messing up every time you try and you’ll end up punching thin air instead. It’s trippy and clumsy, and quite honestly, pretty awful.
There’s not a whole lot going for Flashback to be honest. The graphics are a huge improvement over the original (I only know this because the original is included in the deal if you would like to play the same annoying game in terribly dated graphics), but while the graphics are of course largely improved, on a whole, the game actually plays a lot better in said included original. As good as the graphical remake is, the voice acting is possibly the most dreadful part of the game. Each line feels forced and computerised. Conrad’s voice is not believable at any point of the game, and as bad as his voice is, the NPC voices are even worse.
The gameplay in the game is your typical 2D action platforming type game. You must traverse terrain by moving from ledge to ledge while taking out various enemies. You will also need to complete an assortment of puzzles in order to progress at times, but the hardest of these, for all intensive purposes, involves collecting two pieces of fruit, in order to keep a lever down, so that you can continue. Yeah, it’s pretty mind bending. The puzzles really are not worth mentioning, and neither are the combat or platforming elements, which leaves us with… well not a whole lot. Even from the first hour or so, you can tell that the gameplay is going to be repetitive. Jump here, get that, shoot this, return here and so on. It would all be okay if it was done well, but it just isn’t, not even remotely.
Flashback is a disappointment to say the least. The most fun in the game comes when you get to ride a Tron-type hover bike, but not for the reason you think. It was actually quite poorly done, as you just fly up and down while a conversation plays, but the truth is, it was a nice break from running and jumping, and far less broken.
It’s pretty sad that Flashback was so poorly remade; games from that era had some excellent combat mechanics, and that made them worth every cent. Flashback’s attempt to bring us an exciting flashback from the past fails in almost every respect. Quite simply put, if you want to play an engaging, fun game, don’t get Flashback. If you have dreamed of playing the original and are somewhat masochistic, go ahead and get this game, but you were warned.