The swan song of the last console generation saw some brilliant releases: BioShock Infinite featured a serious, engaging, thought-provoking story along with a troubled protagonist. The new Tomb Raider redeemed the franchise, featuring a serious, engaging, thought-provoking story along with a troubled protagonist. The Last of Us enraptured players with a serious, engaging, thought-provoking story along with a troubled–
Okay, is this writer starting to sound like a broken record?
Gaming has come a long way when it comes to stories. No longer does the player get a thinly-veiled, hastily-put-together plot that says “Um… welcome to the world of Utopia. There are some bad guys, go kill them!” It’s also quite impressive that some games are beginning to explore stories with the kind of depth normally seen in Oscar-winning films. Yet, as mentioned above, maybe games are taking themselves way too seriously.
This writer’s pick for Game of the Year of 2013 was neither BioShock Infinite nor The Last of Us. That honour belongs to a game that was in the form of downloadable content, a medium I have grown to despise.
Announced on April Fools’ Day of 2013, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was a tongue-in-cheek love letter to the nostalgia of the 1980’s, a time when Japan was on the verge of ruling the world, when cocaine was just beginning to wreak havoc on inner city neighbourhoods, and when a game’s problems could be solved by just blowing on the cartridge.
A clean break from the vanilla version of the game, which had an extremely serious story as well, Blood Dragon soundly defenestrated whatever conventions and rules that were used to create the run-of-the-mill adventure. Simply put, this is the kind of game that a six year old would think up of, in an awesome way; it would be hard to imagine dragons that fire lasers from their eyes, a sniper rifle that shoots grenades, and the ability to give your enemies the finger in any other game.
There are no moral dilemmas about if the protagonist, voiced by Michael Biehn, is doing the right thing. While Spider is a companion that the player cares for, it is in a fraternal kind of care, not that soppy crap about how you got to protect this little helpless person from harm. For all the praise that is bestowed upon companions like Elizabeth and Ellie, this writer still cannot help but feel that they are still far from breaking the glass ceiling, being treated as glorified, but useful pets.
Other than basing the premise off of references to movies like The Terminator, Robocop and Die Hard, there was really no rhyme or reason behind this game, and it was for that very reason why this writer enjoyed the game on a level that is difficult to reach. It took the rulebook, riddled it with bullets from a minigun, then Sparta-kicked it into oblivion. In my opinion, Blood Dragon was everything Duke Nukem Forever was supposed to be.
The only awful thing about Blood Dragon was that it was a DLC campaign that only lasts a couple hours; that, and an extremely anti-climactic ending, with the *SPOILERS* boss dying in a cutscene. The player spends the last part of the campaign raining destruction on his dragon, which shoots lasers out of his eyes, only for the epic battle not to take place.
Nevertheless, the game – along with an award-winning soundtrack that has introduced its players to synthwave, a musical genre that harkens back to the days of synthesisers and new wave – was a major hit, with Michael Biehn saying that the head developer reportedly wants to turn the game into a franchise. Perhaps in keeping up with the retro 1980’s theme, a sequel might follow, along with a Saturday morning kids’ show featuring child sidekicks and a cereal.
Blood Dragon III: Vietnam War 2 was announced on April Fools’ Day of this year, exactly one year after Blood Dragon was announced. While it may, unlike its predecessor, be a hoax, the concept seems to be keeping in line with the tongue-in-cheek, give-zero-effs approach, featuring ED-209s from Robocop facing off against xenomorphs from the Alien franchise.
Either way, Blood Dragon is a step in the right direction, and the developers seem to realise that in spite of all the evolution that gaming has gone through as an art form, people should never forget a game’s original purpose: to entertain and rock the players’ socks off.