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Flashback HD Review

Posted on August 26, 2013 AT 12:13am

As an avid enthusiast of downloadable games and campy 90’s science fiction tales, I was initially intrigued by VectorCell and Ubisoft’s hi-def remake of Flashback. This 2.5D platform shooter does its best to draw upon the popularity of the original version that came out 21 years ago, but mundane missions and a slow-paced narrative makes it more of an exercise in futility than the futuristic adventure it strives to be.

In Flashback, players assume the role of the amnesia-ridden hero Conrad B. Hart as he slowly regains his memories and eventually fights for humanity’s survival. Though the game features extended cutscenes with full voice acting, a battery of tired writing tropes induces eye-rolling pretty much from the get-go. Just as I wouldn’t expect Shakespearean acting from an Expendables film, I didn’t go into Flashback with high hopes of witty banter. Even so, with the protagonist dropping fully enunciated one-liners line “Awesome-sauce” I can’t help but skip the rest of the dialogue exchange.

Though the opening video boasts a fast-paced hover bike chase, Flashback’s pace soon thereafter slows to what feels like a crawl. While the ascending and descending of platforms must be done by pointing the left joystick at a ledge within range, horizontal jumping is done on the face buttons- leading to a few frustrating falls down elevator shafts. Flashback’s shooting mechanics offer a welcome 360 degree range of motion, which comes in handy as drones and jetpack-strapped aliens try to take you down from all directions. Hover bike chases and boss battles appear as the game progresses, but you have to weather a battalion of bad acting and fetch missions to get there.

Please don’t let my remarks thus far completely disparage you from giving Flashback a try. Those old enough to be nostalgic for a romp through this sci-fi universe will enjoy another dive back in despite how the game has held up over the years. To get a better appreciation for how far the upgrade has come, the original 16-bit 1992 version of Flashback is available from the start menu. That being said, solely basing praise for this release by comparing it to its predecessor that came out two decades ago is a bit unfair to other games in the genre. When compared to similar titles like 2009’s Shadow Complex or more traditional platformers like Sonic 4: Episode II and BattleBlock Theater, Flashback has a comparatively more difficult time keeping gamers engrossed in the action.

Everyone who remembers the original Flashback will have a decent enough time with flashbacks of their own while playing this downloadable title. Anyone who happens to just curiously stumble on the title shouldn’t expect more than a sci-fi tinged distraction for a few hours, but what amounts to essentially two full games for the price of one is worth the price of admission.

Flashback is now available on Xbox Live, and will tentatively be released during Q3/Q4 2013 on PSN and Steam.

Flashback HD Official Trailer

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