Sunday, September 4, 2016

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon - 2/20 hours

This game is aggressively dumb. I haven't decided yet whether this is a strength or a weakness. Like, there's a point in the game where Rex and his partner are cornered by Omega Squadron cyborgs and the says "tell [my wife] I died defending our country" and Rex replies with "tell her yourself" and, for me, there was a moment where I stopped to reassess the choices that had brought me to this point. I concluded that the makers of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon had to know what they were doing. I had to trust that none of this was an accident.

It was still pretty damned stupid, though.

Maybe that's all right, though. The game doesn't really work as a parody, per se, because there's nothing that it's really parodying. Yes, big, splashy 80s action movies had some of the same elements of uncritical machismo, nuclear anxiety, and pessimistic moralism, but the game's titular blood dragons are neon-painted dinosaurs. What is that a reference to? Look at the great action movies of the time - Terminator, Die Hard, Aliens, Robocop, etc - and you'll notice that one thing they have in common is a striking visual design that makes very sparse use of hot pink. In fact, all that stuff with the spandex and bright colors and whatnot was considered a little silly and frivolous even its decade of origin. Every generation thinks it invented being too cool for fashion.

I guess Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is really just riffing off the idea of the 80s. It's a big, swirling maelstrom of machismo and excess and the kind of corny earnestness that one always associates with the past (I guarantee that the "winners don't use drugs" line would have been cringe-inducing even 30 years ago). The result would have been unrecognizable to people from the real 80s, who would probably have just taken its ironic crumminess as genuine crumminess. I, however, have the advantage of several decades worth of detachment, so I'll pronounce it "amusingly goofy."

As far as the game itself goes, there are stealth elements, which is normally enough to earn a "grrr" from me, but they've been pretty forgiving so far (mostly serving to set up a series of implausibly acrobatic chain stealth kills) so I'm warily optimistic. As long as playing like a reckless idiot is a viable strategy, going forward, it's not going to matter to me if "badass cybercommando, striking from the shadows" is strictly optimal.

My one real complaint, thus far, is that the save system is kind of deceptive. I've actually played the first 45 minutes of the game twice, thanks to the fact that the "autosaves" the game makes in the middle of missions don't actually save progress if you quit in the middle of a mission, and since I didn't realize at first that this was an open-world game, the first time I played it, I quit about halfway through the first mission. Lesson learned. You can only save in between missions, and I should have played an hour-and-a-half straight in my first session.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next 18 hours of the game. I'm sure that I won't be surprised at all by the antics of Col. Sloan, the villainous renegade cyborg, nor by my ally, the beautiful and mysterious Dr Elizabeth Veronica Darling, but I will get to shoot a lot of quasi-futuristic neon-colored guns and trick glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs into mauling people, and maybe that's good enough.

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