This update is dated October 16, 2014.. scroll down for the previous more complete review.
So far, since the last update; I feel the gameplay is heading in a better direction. Let's make this clear that I'm speaking of gameplay alone. There is still much I would liek to see before I could recommend this game.
I'm happy they implemented the easier aiming/AP-to-shoot cursor. Much better, gunfights feels much more fluid with that. As much as such a "little" update can add to a more positive outlook. I seriously wish I didn't have to fight the slow camera and the tree-tops. I seriously hope being able to hide tree tops is on their list of to-do's. It's very distracting and annoying, hinders the smoothness and speed at which battles take place.
They've added more characters to the game world. So you can meet some dudes to hire them.. it's positive, but feels like something I don't feel completely positive about actually; they just feel like more random hirelings. I mean Ira, Dimitry, Carlos, Shank, etc... in JA2 they we're characters that eventhough they may not have all stayed on your main assault squad, only brought a positive aspect to the game in terms of feeling realistic and natural characters that had a REASON to be there. Not only was ira a capable medic to start off with, she played a decent role in explaining the different locations to you. It gave you background insight on the towns/region, making you feel like you're somewhere "real". So far, the hirelings are, well, just that; hirelings.
In short, gunplay is getting ok-er.
First game ever reviewed on Steam. And I will update the review as the game release completely and gets patched or updated.
This is dated: October 12, 2014
This is my honest opinion; I'm not trying to start a debate or flame the devs or hurt anyones feelings with what I say. Hopefully it can be viewed as upbuilding criticism. Please view it as such!
I SERIOUSLY hope Flashback gets MUCH better for it's release. I feel sorry for saying what I will say; I've looked over the "shoulder" of the devs since I heard about this project last year; been following all their released information, screenshots, dev diaries, forum posts, etc.. been impatient really. Played JA2 1.13 I don't know how many times to feed my addiction.
I heared so much talk about them listenning to the community; overall got this really good feeling of this being the next Jagged Alliance title (a JA3 that was worthy of the JA franchise).
So today I gave in to my impatience, with pure disregard for the opinion of many disatisfied Early access customers, and complete disregard to my wallet.
I've just spent a few hours playing the game; I get no feeling of satisfaction or of accomplishment like I did even in the first maps Jagged Alliance 2 offers. I feel like this is the worst 45$ I have ever spent in my life, biggest video game let down really.. I should have waited for full release and waited for more in depth gameplay reviews.
There is SO much the devs would need to tweak or balance in so short a time, how much of what has made JA2 good is being left out? There is absolutely no funny banter, not funny lines. The voiceovers... the graphics (and it's def not the most important thing), the sounds, the clunky interface, font size, tactical map, provided information for items, item pictures, method of hiring mercs, new mercs, missions, game world, game mechanics... I could go on. It all feels like I am playing a game made for an Android Tablet ported to PC. Maps all feel barren and empty, incredibla lack of detail, clutter. You can't even open or closse doors yet.
I don't really understand how this game will be completely polished, balanced and fixed for it's full release; not at the speed the updates have been going from the start anyways. It feels like it needs another year of work. And I'm not trying to say the devs don't care or trying to blast them, I realize they barely made the kickstarter, I realize it must not be as easy as most of us make it out to be. ...my issues are that JA2 (and let's stick to the original game and not the modded 1.13) feels lightyears ahead in terms of quality, technical detail and polish compared to this game.
The way this game feels, in terms of feel, is like going back to Jagged Alliance 1 (as if it was a beta for Jagged Alliance 1). I know the "story" is BEFORE Jagged Alliance 1; but Flashback feels somewhat as clunky and "slow"... and PRIMITIVE as Jagged Alliance 1. The worst is, the 3D engine makes it even WORST! Always having to rotate the camera 'cause the palm trees are over your mercs, and you can't see sh!+. It gets really annoying.
It's ironic really, because in a game like Jagged Alliance 1 and 2, due to the way games were sprite-based back then, you can see why a grid-based system was used. It worked perfectly for those games. You take a 3D system, and it seems to make it feel cheaper/crappier than the way JA2's grid-based system worked. This feels like it's trying to be XCOM, but fails at it. XCOM EU, although basic compared to it's predecessors, was relatively fluid and smooth. It works well for a "board-game" styled system, works well for what XCOM EU tried to accomplish.
Back to JA:F, I have no idea why they absolutely needed to spend efforts, time and money to work on a 3D system the way it is; seriously, I would much rather a good quality Isometric view just like JA2, with 3D characters; no fighting the camera and trees to see what you're supposed to see 'easily'. Why is it so hard to make a simple and intuitive map? I'd have settled with the Fallout: Tactics graphics any day over this one.
Sorry if this is long and turning into a short "review", but sometimes I can be blasted away in awe at some old games (Stronghold HD 6$ which I JUST played for the first time this week, amazing!) and sometimes - rarely - I have made horrible choices; JA Flashback 45$ =\ (the amount surely plays a role in how I feel about it too).
I seriously hope the game could live up to the.. "expectations".. I've been having for it (hoping for anyways).
What's strange is that the fans scream out for a simple remake of the original JA2 with features that you find in 1.13; not blockbuster graphics, or a new turn-based system, no! nothing of the sort; SIMPLY: the same things that made JA2 such an incredible game! The special humor, banters, the quantity and accuracy of the gear that mods have brought, the way the story is layed out, the characters you meet. They all felt alive, the maps, as static as they were, gave a sense of reason, and why they were the way they were.
...instead, devs are always trying to find new ways of changing the game, changing the way it works, changing the way stats work, trying to add perks... why?? Why do I need a system like Skyrim with perks? the leveling in JA2 was perfectly transparent; yet it gave your mercs noticeable improvement as you used him. The interrupt system in JA2 was spot on; incredible system. Now enemies simply stay out in front of you and activate their interrupt option.. even if you shoot them 3-4 times and get hits, well you triggered their interrupt. The dude falls at the end of his turn due to bleeding, yet he was able to aim at you by interrupting you.. it's feels poorly implemented; makes me wonder WHY did the stat system have to be changed at all?
Why change what isn't broken? ...ESPECIALLY when we only want the same old system, wouldn't it have saved on time, money, to focus on the content, proper voice-actingand what makes a game world feel "rich" in content?
I guess it's back to JA2 for the billionth time. At least the Mercs NEVER get boring, I can still chuckle at their comments; I haven't had one single chuckle or hint of something funny in Flashback. I'm sorry I feel so disappointed, I guess that's what happens when your epxectations build up (and when you see a 45$ price tag).