Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

I'm a child of the 80's.  I was born in 1980, and while I might have more clear memories of the 90's, I do remember a lot from my first decade.  Mostly, I remember the television shows and movies that came from that time, and a lot of them were absolutely crazy.

I mean, who could possibly forget Dinosaucers, a television program about dinosaurs from space who fought other, evil dinosaurs from space and everybody was conveniently color-coded?

Or there was Bravestarr, an epic space cowboy adventure?

Now, there have been a lot of homages to the 80's in one way or another, but if I had to pick the thing that best embodies the zaniest stuff from the 80's without actually being something from the 80's, the prize might just go to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.


I don't even really know where to begin.  Sergeant Rex "Power" Colt (voiced by Michael Biehn) is on a mission to take down Colonel Ike Sloan, who, along with his cyborg army Omega Force, plan on taking over the world in the wake of a nuclear war between Russia and the United States.  Along with his friend and co-soldier Spider, Rex "Power" Colt needs to fight giant, glowing dragons, collect VHS tapes, get the girl, and shoot the bad guys to sweet electric guitar licks mixed with synthesizers.

The game takes place in 2007, if I needed to point that out.

Based off of the Far Cry 3 video game engine, controls for Rex are pretty much exactly the same.  The same trigger for shooting things shoot things, the same trigger for ducking makes you duck.  The same unlockable means of taking down bad guys steathfully is all kept intact, with just a few tweaks along the way.  Instead of throwing a knife to take down a nearby soldier, you throw a ninja throwing star because of course you would.  It's the 80's.  If you liked the game play of Far Cry 3, you'll like the game play here.

But enough of the plot and the game play.  This game is a love letter to the weirdness of the 80's, and it shows.  Whether it's climbing into the sewer to kill some mutated turtles, running away from giant dragon lizards that shoot lasers from their eyes, or hang-gliding over the island you're on, everything you see is a love letter to how the 80's apparently saw the future.

If the giant neon lizards didn't prove that, there's the fact that soldiers all sound like they took voice lessons from Soundwave from the 80's Transformers cartoon.  The scientists all have visors on their scientist suits.  Dr. Darling, the scientist/love interest has shoulder pads that could support a car while you changed the tire.

It's all blended together with extremely contrived dialogue, witty one-liners ("I'm on fire...and now so are you!"), and story details that kept flashing me back to every ridiculous, contrived thing from the 80's where needless pipes, metal patches, and silvery spray paint were added to scenes and characters to make them seem more "futuristic."

There's legions of 80's movie references scattered through-out.  At last count, I caught two Predator references in the beginning of the game, and there were blatant homages to Terminator 2, Robocop, Rocky IV, Transformers (the animated movie), and others.  Yes, I know, Terminator 2 was 1991, but the original was 1984, so I'm allowing it.

I think what makes the humor work is that it's played straight.  There's no winks to the audience, nobody points out how ridiculous everything is or how little sense things make, and it leaves the whole thing with a sense of parody on par with that of Leslie Nielsen in Airplane! instead of any of the more modern "parody" films that just reference things without any reason to it.

I didn't get the 100% completion, but I did make sure to unlock the achievement for killing a dragon with the bow and arrow set.  The game is incredible fun to play, and while it is short, exploring the area to try to catch every reference is worth the added time.  Every time I went "oh, wow, that's from X" or "hey, that's just like Y" I found my smile growing wider and wider.

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