The Top 7… games with fantastic flashbacks that give amnesia the middle finger

5. Heavy Rain

The level: Scott Shelby's childhood sections

“Sacré bleu! Come quick my American papa! Ma seebling eez drowning!” Horrendous quasi French/American accents aside, Heavy Rain’s Origami Killer flashbacks are pretty affecting. Taking you back to the murderer’s days as a down on his luck nipper, the flashback starts with him and his brother John being kicked out of their caravan home by their alcoholic dad. They then spend the rest of the day playing in a rain-filled construction site in a scene which must make health and safety bods everywhere weep into their lukewarm camomile tea.

Above: Hands up who wanted to deliberately bugger up all these sections

Chasing John through the boo boo-bringing site is one of the game’s most exhilarating QTEs. Still, performing semi heroic jumps and being a big cheat at hide and seek is only all fun and games until someone gets stuck in an open pipe. An open pipe that’s quickly filling with storm water. Ah well, not to worry. Surely previously mentioned ol’ booze jockey papa will come to the rescue…


Why it’s a fab flashback: It’s a brilliant reveal of the Origami Killer’s identity.

Hearing John ask ‘Scotty’ not to forget him reveals both Shelby as the kid-killing fiend, and deftly casts light on his motivation for said kid-killing. The trials he sets up for Ethan and the other folks of the children he offs are meant to filter out a parent who could do what Scott’s father could not. Namely, save their child from dying a horrible watery-based death.

Above: Look, he's kinda got a reason for being a youngling-murderer, alright? 

The transition from Scotty holding his dead brother’s hand to the now adult private eye mournfully burning evidence that would implicate him as the killer is beautifully done. And for all Heavy Rain’s creepy-ass accents, shoddy scripting and massive plot holes, there’s no doubt the flashback and reveal was one of 2010’s most emotional gaming moments. Bloody hell, we’re tearing up here. JOOOOOOOOOHHHHHNNNNNN!!!

Above: We'll forgive the wonky accent, John. Just come back!

4. Hitman: Contracts

The level: The Meat King’s Party

As some semi sociopathic woman probably said way back when, ‘there’s no better way to a man’s heart than through his stomach’. Moving past our half-assed (possibly made up) philosophy, food is certainly the way to Campbell ‘the Meat King’ Sturrock’s ticker. Tasked with infiltrating the grotesque Glaswegian’s hellish abattoir-cum-opium den, Agent 47 has to rescue his client’s daughter who’s been kidnapped by Sturrock’s brother and also take out the saggy Scotsman.

Above: Turns out, 47 isn’t as good at saving folk as he is stabbing them

Even though all of Contract’s levels (aside from the SWAT shootout at the end) are flashbacks, the Meat King hit was easy to single out for praise. Combining the grottiest level IO has ever designed with one of most ingenious hits in the series, it’s a killer mission from every angle.

Above: What a charming place for some wet work

Why it’s a fab flashback: It lets you murder a man with a chicken.

While you can carry out Campbell’s hit in a variety of ways, easily the most satisfying is death via roast chicken. Disguise yourself as a chef and you can sneak into the abattoir’s decidedly unhygienic kitchen. From there, it’s simply a matter of stuffing your trusty Silverballer into the deceased poultry’s ass and then cutting through Sturrock’s opium party to get to his private bedroom.

Above: He may be a tad overweight, but the dude definitely knows how to live

Apparently, no one’s ever tried to kill someone with the assistance of a Sunday roast before, because 47 easily strolls past security with his deadly meal. Once you’re inside the Meat King’s boudoir, the hulking crook gets so excited about the prospect of stuffing his face with drumsticks, he barely takes any notice when you pull the gun out of the bird. Cue a chicken-assisted assassination, one dead Scot and 47’s most pleasingly lo-tech but brilliant job.

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  • Skykid - January 20, 2011 3:58 p.m.

    That one quiet moment between you and MacMillan in 'All Ghillied Up' was one of the few scenes in CoD4 that haunts me. It's the erie quiet, MacMillan's statement and the creepy laughter of children on the wind that still sets my nerves on edge to this day. *Shudders*
  • LizarDAZZLE - December 11, 2010 12:15 a.m.

    I remember that I managed to hit the terrorist guy in cod4 on my first try. I was pissed because I also managed to curve the bullet into what was clearly right in the face, but of course, that somehow only shot his arm off.
  • sternparez - December 9, 2010 9:40 a.m.

    Clearly MGS is the best one! Gave me chills when I first played it
  • josuerosales - December 9, 2010 4:20 a.m.

    ahh nm, someone already said something
  • josuerosales - December 9, 2010 4:18 a.m.

    for the ODST part, isn't the captain of the odst team Buck and not Dutch?
  • ClassicCreation - December 8, 2010 8:44 p.m.

    The Batman: Arkham Asylum flashback was beautifully done. It's no fluke that it remains my favourite game.
  • Mode - December 8, 2010 5:54 p.m.

    MGS4 man...I love MGS, and Shadow Moses did it for me. “Sacré bleu! Come quick my American papa! Ma seebling eez drowning!” This article is hilarious.
  • bass88 - December 8, 2010 12:52 p.m.

    The greatest Scotsman accolade goes to Connor MacCleod. Piss on MacMillan.
  • pizzasmellslikechrisantista - December 7, 2010 10:06 p.m.

    gamesradar should do a top 7 of psychedelic hallucinations. I nominate fallout 3: point lookout
  • dfhrfktk - December 7, 2010 9:10 p.m.

    I was kind of surprised to see ODST on this list, I thought I was the only one who actually enjoyed the storytelling in that game.
  • crumbdunky - December 7, 2010 8:34 p.m.

    MGS4 is still this gens besst all round gaming experience for me-tying up all the loose ends of that story(seemingly MADE of them_) was amazing on it's own. That Kojima did it while still allowing some amazing interactive touches and his usual eye for anal detail was just mindblowing and the old to new(but old, natch) Snake after the Moses flashback was one of the best in a great game. I never replayed MGS1 until AFTER playing Guns sol the original jerk to the mind of suddenly being back there DURING MGS4 was a lever touch for me personally and to think some people are daft enough to knock the game as little more than cutscene after cutscene is really, really sad to my mind-just a great example showing exactly why Kojima -and the series-are so great. So, though All Ghillied Up is among my favourite FPS levels ever, I'd have made MGS4 number one. Thing is, to this day, the missus, who likes to snipe sometimes, still can't drop a guy before whispering "Oi! Suzy!" in a Scots brogue first. A level that leaves an impression and that's for sure, great stuff up there with anything from more affecting games in the genre like HL or Bioshock and definitely worth inclusion.
  • sleepy92ismypsn - December 7, 2010 8:26 p.m.

    Even though I played MGS4 before MGS1,2 and 3, I really liked that flashback level. I wish more developers would pay homage to the predecessors of a beloved series.
  • waffman11 - December 7, 2010 8:10 p.m.

    I was expecting Reznov's flashback from Black Ops to be in here, that was the greatest piece of fanservice I have ever seen. It also had quickscoping with the scoped Mosin-Nagant in the level (a bonus easter egg as it mimics almost perfectly CoD2 sniper rifles), just so Treyarch can say, "No, there's still quickscoping in Black Ops, just play the campaign."
  • philipshaw - December 7, 2010 5:58 p.m.

    Couldn't agree more with number 1. Also MGS4 is the only time that I felt proper nostalgic in a game
  • MJHAYLETT - December 7, 2010 2:10 p.m.

    'All Ghillied Up' was awesome and I am not the world's biggest FPS fan. MGS4 takes the No. 1 spot for me though, it was pure magic having Act 4 start off PSOne-Era MGS only to be woken up and have his face revert from old Snake to um Old Snake :D
  • quincytheodore - December 7, 2010 6:19 a.m.

    lol I see you used the pistol-in-chicken-ass trick too for the Meat King.. Yeah.. those were the times.. If only I had grenade or something.. Agree with no.1.. It was the best mission of COD, I played it in veteran I think. My first FPS in X360, I still fumbled the controller back then and then came the helipad defense, I went Rambo, floated like butterfly and stung like bee, after maannnyy retries, I finally nailed it. Man, did I screamed that times.. Then my friend told me there was a sweet camping spot OTL..
  • TeaserTuesday - December 7, 2010 6:12 a.m.

    This is the best Top 7 in quite a while, I agree with pretty much all of the entries (the ones I played anyway). Plus it's true, these moments are all the best parts of these great games.
  • Jamahl - December 7, 2010 3:52 a.m.

    That CoD mission was the best CoD mission ever. No exceptions. If only all of them were full of missions like that.
  • soren7550 - December 7, 2010 1:57 a.m.

    @KnightDehumidifier - As awesome, atmospheric and epic it is, I don't think it counts since the only flashbacks that happen are quick pictures that pop up from ME1.
  • mrm1138 - December 7, 2010 12:55 a.m.

    How about almost the entirety of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time? "No, no, no, that's not the way it happened!"

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