Flash Traffic: City of Angels by Tsunami Media is the game that I really really wanted to like but longer I played it, the bigger beef I had with it. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we? You play FBI agent who was just called into the office in the middle of a night. Your partner informed you about DEA raid that discovered a terrorist cell trying to build an atomic bomb. You have to act immediately as millions of lives are at stake.
Occasionally during a play you presented with a choice of how to respond to what is happening on-screen. You pick one of the three choices and depending on your choice you move onto next scene, discover a clue, die or loop back to try again. Nothing more, nothing less. You might say that this is worst kind of game possible with absolutely no interactivity and it should be condemned to the deepest parts of hell. Honestly, there are still many more interesting things happening in this title then in all of the Zynga games combined (at least the ones I saw). So the lack of interactivity for me is not a problem.
I take this kind of games as the evolution of Choose Your Own Adventure books. Good story and entertainment, no matter in what package always win. From the first look, this game has it all. Nicely done introduction showing the DEA bust, with SWAT teams running around and shooting stuff with proper pyrotechnic effects gets you in the right mood. Production values are there, writing and dialogues are not bad either (the game is written by Chuck Farrer who previously wrote Hard Target, first John Woo directed movie in Hollywood). Only slight issue with the technical quality of the game is the video compression. It is quite significant and the game has a very grainy look. The game was later re-released in MPEG version but it needed specific hardware decoder to make it playable. This version is, however, ultra rare.
The longer you play, you realize that something is not right. And the problem is with story continuity, which is a biggie in story driven gameplay. Things are gradually getting fragmented and pieces of the story don’t match. First such scene was an interrogation of one of the apprehended suspects where you can get into the loop after tagging the suspect with a radioactive marker. He has it in one scene and after another step in conversation tree it disappears just to reappear again later. Due to some to me unknown choices, I have completely skipped a huge portion of the game that explained who the villain is and what he wants. So there I was in some van ordering some SWAT team to make the final run on the bad guy. And I didn’t know what was going on and what should I do. After finishing the game and getting congratulations, I actually had to check a longplay on the internet to fill in the gaps in the story.
You know that feeling when you start a new job and to make a good impression, you just keep nodding to everything hoping that all the information you are receiving will eventually make sense. This is how it feels to play Flash Traffic. You just keep playing and hope it will make eventually sense. In my playthrough, that moment never happened. I think it is really a shame that the game didn’t get together because all the right ingredients are there, it was just not stitched together properly.