Leave it to one of the greatest games in our collective memory to finally give the CD-i something worth experiencing. Flashback remains, hands down, one of my favorite games, and this incarnation is no exception. The CD-based versions feature new cut-scenes and slightly better sound, breathing new life into a game that will never cease to amaze even the most jaded current-gen purists.
Flashback weaves an intricate web of action, suspense, and strategy through a story that pays homage to movies such as Running Man, Total Recall, and Blade Runner. The protagonist, Conrad Hart (Corey's distant relative?), finds himself caught up in a conspiracy involving a fierce alien race that has infiltrated human society, and learns of the alien's nefarious intentions. Conrad also suffers from amnesia, and as his memory is restored the suspense rises exponentially, challenging every fiber of his being and ultimately rising to a deafening crescendo that forces him to save the galaxy or suffer a horrific defeat. The pace in which the plot is revealed is superb, giving you the details in a manner that will have you wholly fixated on completing every level as fast as possible. Of course, it's never that easy, for the difficulty is high, but never such that the fun factor is diminished.
One of the only gripes I have heard from people pertaining to this game is the control scheme. Conrad's movements are very realistic, employing the classic roto-scoping technique, and as such, the controls are more sophisticated than the average run-of-the-mill platformer. Conrad can run, jump, roll, climb, creep along walls with his pistol at the ready, and fire with amazing fluidity. There is, admittedly, a moderate learning curve associated with perfecting his control, but once this is achieved, the experience is deeper and far more rewarding than its generic mascot-driven platformer contemporaries.
The game will take you from lush, tropical jungles, to gritty, futuristic metropolises, to hostile and eerily atmospheric alien worlds torn from H.R. Giger's nightmares. This game has you doing everything from simply surviving and defeating the scores of ruthless enemies to earning money by seeking employment in various exciting and dangerous occupations. One of the most memorable stages involves partaking in a sadistic game show to win passage to the decaying dystopia of future Earth. A direct take on Running Man, Death Tower is still one my favorite video game recollections, and the action is as intense and satisfying as it was the first time I experienced it.
I really haven't a negative thing to say about this game. I chose not to give it a perfect score, however, though I cannot imagine how the experience could have been improved upon. As you may or may not have ascertained from reviews past, my impressions of the CD-I are bleak to say the least. It appears I have finally found a game which I genuinely enjoyed from start to finish. Yes, from START to FINISH. This should be in ever serious gamer's collection; plain and simple.