Ubisoft has been making some bold decisions in recent years, seemingly taken out of boom-time-THQ’s books in using their successful big name franchises to support smaller projects. The likes of Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Splinter Cell are paving the way for experiences such as Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, and now, a reboot of the cult classic Flashback series.
Beginning with a remake of the original title, Ubisoft is looking to breathe new life into this forgotten franchise harnessing the power of modern digital distribution systems. Despite your own personal faith in Flashback it’s hard to deny that it’s a risky project – especially given the level of polish Ubisoft have proven to be in demand of in recent times – but it’s looking almost certain that it will pay off. In terms of quality, that is, whether the market will warm to it however remains to be seen.
As stated above, Flashback is a remake. However that doesn’t mean you can instantly discount it if you already had your fill twenty years ago. This new design of Flashback incorporates rearranged puzzles, greater and deeper character development and an all new level system. Many modern remakes profess to bring something new to the table, but few are as convincing as Flashback has proven to be.
Upon its debut Flashback was famed for its remarkable animation and slower paced gameplay that merged platform action with logic puzzles in a fashion that arguably gave rise to the survival horror genre. This new Flashback aims to capitalise on this reputation, as although technology has moved on dramatically there’s still plenty of room to develop: Flashback’s animation is suitably impressive now, just as the original was back in 1992. There’s unique character in this high-definition revision, more so than many would be expecting.
The visual clout of Flashback goes beyond its animation this time around, with an impressive depth to the environments and very Blade Runner-esque cutscenes. However it’s not just the visual quality that’s been improved. Flashback feels much more fluid than the original (despite the occasional glitch or delayed input response) with the movement slick and intuitive. The aiming on the right stick is smooth and the combat action is immediate enough to not stand out from the slower paced gameplay. It’s an odd decision to have jump commanded by the left stick as opposed to a context sensitive face button, but it doesn’t take too long to adapt.
Only the opening section was available during Electronic Theatre’s hands-on time with Flashback, and yet the videogame still managed to impress. The gameplay still feels fresh twenty years after its debut and the look of the videogame is very impressive. It remains a unique experience despite its age, suggesting that Flashback will be something worth experiencing. Ubisoft have truly manage to make an impact on the digital scene with their recent releases, so hopes are high that Flashback will fit right in with this high quality productions.