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Gonna Have Me Some Fun – Blood Dragon

WARNING: Blood Dragon is built for speed, it’s got everything that Uncle John needs.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is basically a raging-hard-on-induced, love letter to Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, or 80s action movies in general. As Michael Allocca put it, “It’s like if Duke Nukem took an untested amount of mescaline and traveled back to 1982.” Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon gave me a boner so hard that my 6 year old self was able to touch it.

Most people were introduced to Blood Dragon via this trailer, which was originally thought to be a hoax.

And then, thankfully, we found out it wasn’t.

First off, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon really has absolutely nothing to do with Far Cry 3. It is its own entity completely and doesn’t even require the original game to play – a stand alone download available for $15. So why did they call it Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon and not just Blood Dragon? Probably because they were hoping to bank on the success of Far Cry 3. Other than sharing the same game engine, they really have nothing to do with each other. This made me worry slightly about the quality of the game, but even more so, I was really anxious about them feeding too much into 80s sentimentality without any real substance. Fears were unrequited. Yes it is highly sentimental of the 80s, but the game is awesome. Anyone of any generation who’s a fan of FPS games will enjoy Blood Dragon. If you don’t, there something wrong with your brain. It’s not the game, it’s you.

You start with what is basically the opening scenes from Predator. If you’ve ever seen the movie, you’ll recognize it immediately. And if you haven’t, dear God, please, do something about it. Now. Like, seriously. Stop reading this and go watch Predator. Crouching produces an icon clearly resembling the silhouette of the T-800 crouching upon his transportation back through time. Granted the references are numerous, it’s not just a parody on Schwarzenegger 80s pop culture, it’s a self-aware parody of the video game world itself. The ubiquitous gameplay tutorial is a hassle. More games are forgoing the packed in physical manual for the hand-holding, in-game tutorial – WHICH IS ALMOST NEVER SKIP-ABLE! True to form, it is impossible to skip the tutorial in Blood Dragon, however, in its heightened sense of self-awareness, they mitigate the aggravation by intentionally trying to aggravate you with its asinine-ness.  Thus, the snark-laden tutorial comes of being cleverly stupid by pointing out the ridiculousness of the trend and provokes a few chuckles rather than slinging expletives at your TV. For example, “Press A to indicate your ability to read,” and, “To look around, look around,” are two such commands given during the tutorial.

It’s not just all silly jokes and puns though. The gameplay is top notch and brings everything you would expect from a great FPS. You can chain stealth kills together, it’s got plenty of weapons, and plenty of action. To lend some genuine authenticity, they even got Michael Biehn, best known as Kyle Reese from Terminator and Cpl. Hicks of Aliens, to do the voice of Rex Power Colt. Soundtrack by Power Glove, who must have written the soundtrack to James Cameron’s dreams; picture Terminator meets Blade Runner and that’s pretty much what Power Glove sounds like.

Nothing has ever been more worth the download price. And remember, C400 is like C4, but with two zeroes.

Single Player, Mandatory-Online Games

noeaSingle Player Online Games, or, Why I hate EA

Remember when you could buy a brand new game, go home, open it up, put it on and play it right away? Well that may soon become just a memory and I fear that the next generation of gamers won’t even know what that feeling is like. More often than not when you purchase a new game, it requires an immediate update. Ok, fine, whatever. Download my update. I’ll go grab a drink and take a leak while it loads. “Sorry, but the servers are currently down for maintenance.” That is the most infuriating message to receive after just purchasing a new game and it is inexcusable. There is no argument, no line of thinking, no rationale, no excuses, NOTHING that can justify why that happens.

Let’s say you just bought a new car and it’s sitting in your driveway and you’re about to take it out for the first time. As you turn the key, instead of the engine starting, you get a message stating, “Sorry you can’t use your car yet. We still haven’t finished working on it, but we sold it to  you anyway.” You’d be pretty pissed. A TV, a fridge, a toaster, ANYTHING – when you purchase it, you expect it to be usable upon receiving it. “Hey, Jimmy, why aren’t you wearing those new shoes you bought?” “Because they’re having problems finishing attaching the leather.” You would call BS on that immediately, and you’d be in the right to do so. It’s not okay when any other retailer of goods does this, so why can video game publishers get away with it?

Players of MMOs are quite familiar with the situation, but that’s to be expected when a game is played entirely online. Even so, it should work at launch. I can accept server downtime for routine updates, large patches, bug fixes, add-ons, etc. but when a game is released for retail sale, as a finished product, it should work out of the box. Especially if I’m going to be playing a single player game. Why do I have to log into a server to play by myself? I’ve heard all the arguments for this, but as I stated earlier, it’s unjustifiable. Oh, okay, you’re making sure I have an authentic copy of your game. EA’s Origin and Ubisoft’s Uplay network require constant online access to play any of their newer games regardless if you’re playing multiplayer or not.  Fuck you! I bought your damn game. Let me play it on my own terms.  This also brings into question the concept of true ownership of the product. If I can’t use something that I purchased, then is it really mine? Generally, something that I own, I’m free to do with and use as I please and is mine forever until I so choose otherwise. Let’s say, 25 years from now, I have this game that requires their servers to play, but the servers have been permanently shut down. Then I can’t play this game. I can still play my old NES games that I bought years ago without any problem, so why shouldn’t I be able to play this one? What did I really buy? Did I really buy anything or did I just rent it? Granted a long, extended rental period, but it would be a rental nonetheless.

simcityscreen

my computer screen for about 2 days straight trying to log into sim city

In case you weren’t already aware, Sim City, a game published by EA, and the impetus for writing this, had a disastrous release. For over a week, servers were unstable at best and many users had long wait times to log on and even then would get booted from the game due to server instability. For the first few days, the game was essentially unplayable, with an almost complete inability to log into the game.  Similarly, but not nearly so awful, Diablo III and Starcraft II had a near inability to log on the first few days; both requiring constant online connections to play even a single player game. EA said that they had no idea so many people were going to be playing. The Sims is the best selling PC game of all time. Did they really think that they wouldn’t need more than a few servers to accommodate such a large fan base? At launch, wouldn’t it make sense to go a little overboard with servers because everyone is going to be logging in all at once. Blizzard is awful with this.

EA has as least admitted they screwed up. To anyone who purchases Sim City before March 25th, they will be entitled download one free game – Battlefield 3, Bejeweled 3, Dead Space 3, Mass Effect 3, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Plants vs Zombies, and Sim City 4 Deluxe. It’s nice that they’re giving out a free download. They didn’t have to. They could have just said, “We already have your money. Things will be fixed in time. Until then, deal with it.” It doesn’t make the situation right, or fix the increase in constant online games, but it’s nice to see a big publisher admit they were wrong.

The point of all this is, don’t release a game if it’s not finished. I wouldn’t have minded waiting another week, or month, or whatever for the game to release as long as I get a completed product. I paid for it, I want to be able to use it right away. If it’s not finished yet, don’t release it. And this mandatory online crap has got to go. Bottom line, if a game has a single player mode, then DO NOT require online server access.

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