Monday, 16 September 2013

Multiple: Far Cry Blood Dragon

Sometimes a game can take itself far too seriously. Sometimes a game strives to have itself believed and struggles at the yoke of reality wherein it sets up its own rules and tries ever so hard to keep to them as if this is the universe you're looking into through your window of screen/television. Sometimes games fail horrifically at the meagre standards these games set themselves and ultimately end up being just faded pastiches of themselves.

And then a game like Fry Cry: Blood Dragon comes along lampoons everything these games have tried to do but being so overblown, so overboard and cliché-spouting, meme riding, trope ridden infestations of pure awesome. Far Cry: Blood Dragon (FCBD from here on) is a game that takes the modern sandbox shooter, strips away most of the bullshit (what little is left is heavily made fun of within itself), pumps it full of the neo glory that was the late 80's and early 90's and just has fun with itself in a good way, not the creepy way YOU do each night. I've seen the footage on YouTube and you should be ashamed of yourself.

The premise is simple enough, you're a cyborg (85% cyborg, 15% man+) tasked to drop in on an island and stop the danger threatening the world. But even this is ridiculous beyond compare with the opening description being "It's 2007 and the Apocalypse has had an Apocalypse" you realise this game is just going to be silly about everything and you're going to be brought along for the ride. You're tasked with taking out the dangerous threat of your cyborg series creator while armed to the teeth with guns, bombs, grenades and all manner of fun laser based surprises. Upon reaching him, you're captured, stripped of weapons and thrown to the games' title-giver, the Blood Dragons (Think dinosaur that fires lasers from its eyes and you're on the right track). You now have to shut down the whole operation, stop the experiments, stop the monsters, save the day, kill the bad guys and get the girl.

It's as 80s action movie set in the future as you can get and it's just raw fun.

Virtually everything (even the display of the game looking like some neo-punk virtual cyberpunk punk, punk... no I lost my thread there... It looks neon!) looks like it belongs in some stereotypical neon night club of some seedy underground scene bathed in black lights. Guns get upgraded with more lights than Blackpool Tower and the idea of stealth is bullshit if you're walking around like a beacon of shining focus, but as long as you're quiet, it counts.

Nearly any iconic scene of any iconic movie is represented in some fashion or another in this game with references as long as my arm and back (no dick jokes there today... oh wait...) ranging from the helicopter intro in Predator, to Terminator's synth backing ambience (and voiced by Mr Michael "Got Killed By Terminator At The End But Fuck Wasn't I Bad Ass" Biehn which just adds to the 80's nostalgia as he recants lines from Abyss, Aliens, Terminator and so on.

The game also pokes fun at various other games such as forcing the player to sit through the mandatory "here is how to play the game" while your character moans and swears his way through it while the HUD actually takes the piss in other ways by telling you to "Press A to confirm you can read" before telling you in explicit detail which muscles to engage and biomes of the brain to activate to press the button again. While there are collectables in the game, you'll actually want to hear your character swearing at the futility of it all, VHS tapes referencing other films will leave you with clues to what they're supposed to represent.

There's a multitude of weapons in the game though you can only carry 4 or carry one of the heavier weapons like the minigun. Each gun is upgradable to higher and more powerful standards and each gun is a reference to something else. The pistol looks more at home as Robocop’s side arm, the shotgun called the Galleria 1991 referencing Terminator 2's year of production AND a location within the film highlighted by the T-1000's response to a group of kids. The sniper rifle is the Cobra Cannon from Robocop, montages taken from Operation Wolf and Commando. If you know the pop-culture of films and arcade games from 30 years back, you'll get most of the references and some of the more modern ones. I personally can't vouch for the Far Cry 3 references and as such, I can't make cross references here.

Your exploits will range from combating cyborg wildlife from snakes to large cats, all of which can be stalked and killed or taken down with quick time events if you let them grab hold/attack and in some cases HAVE to be done this way. Assaulting bases which double up as speed travelling locations of which you can rush in and butcher everyone, stealth your way through it all, drop the shield and welcome in the Blood Dragon (though you might have to kill it yourself later) giving you various methods of completing objectives and each base can give you specific side missions to complete for further upgrades to unlock, which is always positive to give you a reason to sidestep the main quest and do something else though pointless items like cash etc are best left alone in game design.

A lot of the current gens’ first person shooter restrictions are lifted here. Been a long time since I played a game with no fall damage, infinite sprinting, most of the special moves already unlocked etc. It makes for a welcome return BUT it does feel that there have been some corners cut on this one. There's no messing about with inventories, just grab the gun, get the ammo and shoot the hell out of whatever opponent approaches, or steal a jeep and drive off for a bit, hang gliding a while through canyons and avoid sharks. The action, like most 80s gun toting testosterone fuelled explosions fests of pure man balls of steel, doesn't let up from start to finish with the cheesiest plot line one could imagine and the cut scenes... 8bit graphics never looked so pornographic.

I won't spoil the big ending but I will say that it's well worth the effort to get there and pick up something B.A.D.A.S.S as opposed to avoiding something A.S.S.H.A.T earlier in the game.

It's not all glory and greatness though. It might be hard at times to actually get to the location you're trying to navigate to and ignore the random brawls between scientists and soldiers on the roads while the bigger dangers are running out of ammo in huge fights and forcing you to utilise stealth in a game almost exclusively geared towards firepower. A stealth element here is fairly out of place in this game and the mechanic behind it seems rather hit and miss at the best of times, particularly with rescue missions that require stealth and often becomes a case of rush in and kill everyone BEFORE (hopefully) they kill the target you're after.

The game does become repetitive when you're seeking to break down bases left and right for the bonus weapons and powers because taking on multiple Blood Dragons at the same time is deadly if you're not adequately equipped AND know their weak spots. So the side missions become essential to a point but once you're maxed out on levels and on equipments, you're a walking tank for the most part and even more so when you've got the ultimate weapon in the game, which looks like it's been stolen from Krull.

It is however a fun romp through nostalgia but without it, it's a simpler step in gaming where complications are removed and an entertaining, if more single-minded, game is put before us to enjoy.