Steampowered Sunday #6
A few weeks back I did Steampowered Sunday over Far Cry 3, and thanks to the frustrations of dealing with UPlay I didn’t really give it that stellar of a rating. The forced stealth play just was not my thing, but one resounding chorus from folks responding to the post was… play Blood Dragon instead. From the moment I saw the artwork for the title… I knew I would love it, because I am an unrepentant child of the 80s. Everything about the game artwork alone screams 1980’s arcade cabinet artwork. Hand drawn polygon landscapes were a thing that became insanely popular in the post War Games sequence of games. We all wanted to be part of cyberspace in one way or another… even though at the time this was a largely fictional destination. Which leads to the question… did William Gibson predict the future in Neuromancer… or did we just build his future because of our love for it. That however is a topic for a completely different day.
All the Movies Rolled Into One
This game is in every way a love song for not only the video games of the 1980s but the movies as well. You start off with a minigun raid on a base form a Helicopter, while Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” plays on the stereo… a song that featured heavily in the pinnacle of 80s scifi action movies… Predator. It just keeps getting better from there. If you took Robocop, Universal Soldier, Ultraforce, and dumped them in a blender with Bad Dudes, Shinobi, and Duke Nukem… you might come close to creating a game like this. The visuals seem like a 1980s movie arcade scene vomited its magenta and red neon all over your screen. I could pick apart the picture above and name a dozen different movie and video game references in this one shot alone.
The Music is So Authentic
The visuals would not be enough to deliver the feeling of travelling back in time… but the music is really where the game scores 110%. Listening to the insane synths gave me flash backs of so many separate movies at once. I mean you could take this game as making fun of all the absolutely over the topness that was the 1980s, but instead they chose to make it some sort of a time capsule. For someone who lived through all of this, it is like a really crazy trip down memory lane. I had moments where I remembered the first time I watched Terminator, the first time I caught Highlander on HBO, the first time I watched Big Trouble In Little China… and Escape from New York. While none of it really is some kind of clone of the original tracks that obviously inspired it… it has the same feeling of sonic dissonance, driving drum machines and power chords.
Neon Archery Should Be A Thing
The weapons not only look great, but they are really functional. There is a sequence not far from the start of the game where like every 80s movie… you are captured and stripped of all of your weapons. Your fearless hero that has named Captain Rex Colt Power… has to get by with nothing but a bow and the ability to use the environmental behemoths… the Blood Dragons to take down a base. Sure the Blood Dragons do a lot of heavy lifting, but I feel like some sort of Neon Green Arrow as I headshot the guards with a bow. Firstly… I would wonder how the hell I could sneak around with glowing arms, and massively glowing weapons. However since everything in this world seems to glow… I am guessing also glowing is a form of camouflage? Whatever the reasoning behind it, things look badass. I mean as a child of the 80s… making something glow neon and putting skulls and spikes on it… is the absolute guarantee for making something awesome.
The Stealth Did Not Piss Me Off
Normally I hate stealth in games, but there is something about this game that simply changing the skins and color palettes immediately makes the default Far Cry 3 engine feel so much better. I think in part it is because I know that if I perform a take down, I get to see the awesome glowing blue wakizashi slice through the enemy and spill light blue glowing cyber fluid. Additionally there is a completely broken and overpowered ability to chain a bunch of take downs together by pressing your movement keys in the direction of the next mob in sequence. So far I have managed to take down 4 at once, but I imagine in later levels this becomes completely ludicrous. I think mostly my problem with stealth in games is the whole idea of a “bloodless” victory. I play these games to kill everything that stands, and when a storyline impedes me from doing this… my brain rebels.
The Cut Scenes are Amazing
Normally I also hate cut scenes of pretty much any kind. However apparently if you take those cut scenes… make them infused with the spirit of the 80s… and hand drawn… apparently I love them? The combination of the arcade game style pixel artwork and cheesy action movie dialog makes the whole experience enjoyable for me. That seems to really be an undercurrent of this game, “taking things Bel hates and making them enjoyable.” One of the more humorous moments is when your stereotypical mouthy partner initiates a tutorial sequence moments after dropping you on the island as a way of screwing with you. So you are forced there to sit through a sequence of tutorial commands… all the while you are yelling at your partner for making you do them. This is an awesome and irreverent way of making you play through the basic commands so that you know how the game controls.
The Game Is Still Farcry 3
Everything about the game is still very much Farcry 3. You move around the world capturing back positions… but instead of doing so from generic badguys that happen to all wear red bandanas… you are doing it from the Omega Force androids. I guess at the end of the day it is all about the packaging. If you have played Farcry 3, you know how the gameplay works. Capture a base, which opens up side missions, which then leads to the next base to capture. The key difference everything from Farcry has been taken to eleven. One of my favorite things is capturing cyber hearts and then using it to lure the Blood Dragons to bases and make them do your work for you. I mean what is cooler than than giant dinosaurs with glowing neon stripes… that have a plasma cannon breath attack? While I gave Farcry 3, a colossal score of 3 Mehs out of Meh… I have to give the Blood Dragon counterpart 5 Kick Asses out of Fucking Awesome.
While I have not really made it terribly far into the game at this point, I know this will be one that I return to and play again quite often. It is the sort of game you need to be in the mood for mindless carnage to be able to enjoy. At this point I have secured the first base, and started working on some of the side missions. Every now and then I come home from work, and just need to kill something. This is the ideal game to reach for, because the objectives pretty much are all “kill all the things”. There is zero subtlety here, but I am not really that subtle of a person, so it works for me. Since this is such a nostalgic ride for me, I find it odd how popular it has been among generations of folks who did not live this experience the first time. Maybe the camp of the 80s is universal and will always appeal. God save us all.