At a time when the search for deeper meaning in our interactive entertainment activities begins after the first trailer – where more thought goes into critical post-game analysis than development – is a game that has its shallow soul for everyone visible, a blessing. "The game is stupid," proclaimed Dean Evans, creative director of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, proudly during a press event – not stupid pride, but pride in stupidity.
"Dare to be stupid," parody artist Weird Al Yankovick sang in a song that appeared in the 1986 animated Transformers film, a contemporaneous action movie of the late 80s and early 90s, of which this day-glo spin -off of Far Cry 3 a lot makes up its inspiration. As a young teenager, I enjoyed the tune as much as I enjoyed movies like Terminator and Aliens (both starring Michael Biehn, the voice of Blood Dragon & # 39; s protagonist) – pointless fun.
The game casts players as Sergeant Rex & # 39; Power & # 39; Colt, a name we wouldn't have seen in 86. He is a special forces cyborg with a man to kill, but first he must kill all things stand between him and this man. The game is all about saving the world. If we were in the 80s, this might have been heralded as a Cold War commentary. We were pretty ridiculous in the 80s.
The story unfolds in a series of 2D cutscenes that wouldn't be out of place in an NES-era adventure (aside from the bad language and … other things). And when those scenes end, it becomes a nightmare from the early days of MTV.
If a black light poster broke open a neon bar sign and inhaled its contents, this is what the puddle of vomit around his body would look like when the police found him. It was nice and novel for the first couple of hours, but I soon longed for the cloudy blue skies of Far Cry 3.
Ubisoft did great and terrible things with the game engine, turning it into a nightmare world with wild boars roaming the purple plains with their backs covered in neon graffiti. Where mutated Gila monsters – the blood dragons of the same name – roam the tiny island and try to prepare a meal from the meat that your cyborg body still has.
As fancy and garish as this tiny island is, there's always something that reminds me of Far Cry 3. There's the sweet spot shoot (not too loose, not too tight) that helped me nominate an FPS – not my normal go-to genre – for game of the year last year. There are outposts to conquer, side missions for weapon upgrades, money to collect and animals to hunt. The crafting system is gone (and well cleared), and the level system has swapped tattoo-based branching trees for simple level-based performance improvements. Oh, and the developers couldn't resist the opportunity to scare me with an alligator. You get me every damn time.
But alligator attacks are rare – Blood Dragon would rather make you laugh than scream, and it's damn good at it. Michael Biehn sighs gruffly through the opening tutorials and is excited about the killing and the buzzwords. The dialogue sounds like it was written by a thirteen year old me who cares more about how cool it sounds than how much sense it makes. "Tell them I died for my country," one of Rex's compatriots told him in a moment of tension. "You will tell them yourself!" he replies.
That is the power of open, honest stupidity. I've just described two things that I despise in a game that tries to be taken seriously. Bad dialogue and repetitive voice clips would kill most games completely for me, but there's no claim here at all. There is no other expectation. It's the sugar-Abraham-sugar of first-person shooters who deliver ridiculously straight-faced aircraft! Style.
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There are people who think Far Cry 3 is the wrong kind of stupidity – a pointless story disguised as something deep and significant. There are many games that do just that and sometimes they succeed. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is not trying to fool anyone and that's why I loved every minute.