Modern Review: Flashback HD

Flashback-HD-ReviewRemakes and remasters seem to be all the rage at the moment. Some are fantastic reminders of forgotten memories, and some are real stinkers. So how does VectorCell’s Flashback measure up? Read on to find out...

Flashback was a masterpiece, plain and simple. It threw dynamic narrative and realistic animation into the works of a genre weighed down with cute characters and shallow plotlines. So it was with somewhat baited breath that we awaited the arrival of the HD remade version. The news that original game designer Paul Cuisett was heading up the project with his own development studio was wonderful, and we were very excited indeed here at RetroCollect HQ.

So how is the remake?

Imagine your childhood home. Nice, right? Now imagine revisiting it twenty years later to find a gaudy strip mall in its place. Welcome to Flashback.

It’s not that Flashback is a particularly bad game, per se – more that it tries to be more than it is. The original title was a relatively simple platformer, with basic combat and a great science-fiction storyline – all things that VectorCell have decided to expand upon. An expanded combat system and updated level design are all well and good, but a great story should be left well alone. Firstly I feel I should point out that this game is home to the worst dialogue and scripting I have ever, ever, ever heard. I’m not even talking Resident Evil bad. A bit of camp here and there is fine and dandy, but not when every word from every character’s mouth makes you physically cringe.

To make matters worse the script is littered with mispronunciation and spelling mistakes – something I’m sure even a novice QA tester would have noticed.

The levels themselves are actually very nicely updated. The introductory stage is lush with alien vegetation and the ambient sound effects are very good indeed (at least the sound department got something right). They feel fresh and familiar at the same time – although the design could be considered a little dated. If you’ve played the XBLA title Shadow Complex (one of the best games to release on the Xbox Arcade, and one that VectorCell should have taken notes from) then you’ll be familiar with the way the upgrade system works – Conrad can level up and is gifted points to spend on upgrades and abilities.

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Don’t get me wrong, Flashback can be fun at times – and had I never played the original then I’m sure I’d enjoy it a lot more. However as I have played it, there is one thing in particular that to me is unforgiveable – the controls. Considering its predecessor was built on precision and a one-step-at-a-time approach to platforming, the new control set is ludicrous. Conrad is controlled with the analogue stick - meaning that instead of holding a button to run, how fast the character moves is entirely dependent on the pressure applied to the thumbstick. This causes a particular issue when attempting to jump to platforms above – Conrad has a tendency to run back and forth underneath, which is very frustrating. The combat almost makes up for it, with a 180 degree aiming system using the right thumbstick – but this addition heralds the removal of any D-pad support whatsoever (a criminal offence in my book).

To say that Flashback is a missed opportunity is an understatement. As a modern platform title it’s completely…fine. Nothing here was ever going to be as ground-breaking as the original, but mediocrity is something I didn’t see coming.

A real waste.


Last Updated ( 02 November 2013 )  

Comments 

(Link to this comment) lost ruin 2013-09-17 08:13
Such a shame as the original was a quality platformer!
(Link to this comment) pix 2013-09-29 23:31
Worst news this year. I was so excited when I heard this game was being remade. Now.... empty :~(
(Link to this comment) MicroBytes 2013-10-10 12:22
'and I had never played the original'
I was baffled by this statement. Then I realized the 'I' was in the wrong place. Funny how much difference one mistake can make. Like when someone says 'Hey, lets remake Flashback' and then does it.
(Link to this comment) SonGoku182 2013-11-02 20:19
Quoting MicroBytes:
'and I had never played the original'
I was baffled by this statement. Then I realized the 'I' was in the wrong place. Funny how much difference one mistake can make. Like when someone says 'Hey, lets remake Flashback' and then does it.


Whoops! You're right on the money there, bro. My bad!
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