Most of us know by now that Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon’s a good-natured parody of ’80s silliness. But… the ’80s were 30 years ago. Think about that, as grody and un-cool as that sounds! There are people walking around going about their totally bogus everyday lives who don’t know what makes the ’80s so ’80s! Even though most of today’s culture is just recycled stuff from the ’80s! Hello, Transformers and G.I. Joe!
To help alleviate the cultural disconnect, here are some of the shout-outs and familiar tropes Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon exhumes from the ’80s, the decade that never dies, that you ’90s and ’00s babies may not recognize. Put on your acid jeans and turn up the Wang Chung. Things are about to get radical. Radical to the MAX.
We can’t let the 80s go. The remakes and sequels to movies from that era like Miami Vice, Die Hard and Tron are proof enough. Then, somewhere along the way, our nostalgia for that decadent decade gave rise to “neo-80s”, a mini-movement in film, music and games that repackages the neon colors and synthesized soundtracks into new experiences. Ryan Gosling’s crime film Drive from a couple years ago, with its flamingo font and electro-pop score, may be the mainspring of this new sub-genre. Since then games like Double Dragon Neon, Hotline Miami and Retro City Rampage emerged, almost certainly inspired by Drive and our collective memory of VHS tapes and NES carts. As a fan of action movies with practical effects, electro synth and 8-bit games — and everything I just name-dropped in this intro — I’d love to see more games (and things in general) recapture that style. Like closely-related cyberpunk, these kitschy moods and atmospheres speak right to my tastes.
Almost two and a half year ago, I penned an article that asked a sincere question: “Where are the decade-centric games?” I was fresh off playing Frobot, an action game starring a big-haired automaton, when it dawned on me that there aren’t many games that leverage the uniqueness of recent decades in American history. At close to 40 years old, I’ve lived through ’70s funk, ’80s cheese, ’90s extremity, and the ’00s nerd culture. I love all the decades in different ways, so its brought me joy to see that developers are finally mining the good ol’ days for inspiration.
Hawken, a mech action-sim that recently received $10 million in funding, is a free-to-play PC game that appeals to the inner pubescent boy who still dreams of piloting lumbering metal machines that rocket around bombed-out environments while delivering Macross-style missile swarm playloads. The Unreal Engine-powered Hawken let me do just that at an Adhesive Games and Machinima-sponsored E3 party that was thrown with the express purpose of letting video game journalists get hands-on with the upcoming mech shooter before it exists closed beta on 12-12-12. Team 2D-X was in the mix, engaging other journos in 4-on-4 team battles.
When I first learned that there would be a Halo 4, disbelief, shock, and other negative emotions came over me. Halo 3, Master Chief”s final hurrah, ended the trilogy. A new game sounded very much like a franchine being milked dry. To add to the figurative gut kick, I learned that Bungie would not return to helm the project. Instead 343 industries would take charge of the series.
I can safely say I over reacted. Halo 4 is masterpiece.
Gearbox’s Borderlands 2 is available now on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. It’s amazing. You should buy it.
If you’ve played the original Borderlands, you’re in for an enhanced experience that’s even more hilarious and wacky than the original. For those of you who haven’t played the initial installment, let me explain why you should pick it up: Several mega-corporations have taken over the planet Pandora. A vault filled with alien technology is found on the nearby planet Prometheus as well as on your homeworld. You play as a “vault hunter” who battles these mega-corporations to find the sexy tech first.
My first real time playing a Far Cry game was at a recent Ubisoft event. I know, somehow, I missed the first two completely. If the well-designed demo I got to play is any indication, Far Cry 3 feels like it’s shaping up to be a good starting off point for those like me who just never got around to the series before. I got used to the standard FPS controls quickly. I crouched to navigate the jungle terrain stealthily and pulled off headshots Rambo-style with a bow-and-arrow, complete with exploding arrows. I even took out a powerful-looking flamethrowing guy (with full-body armor!) with one shot between the eyes. This guy was impressive, I tell ya. He would’ve been a mini-boss in a 16-bit game. But down he went, and on I went with my jungle rampage.
The tables were turned however when that “show you the true meaning of insanity” guy showed up. Y’know, the one with the mohawk pretending to shoot himself with his fingers from the trailer. He’s become the Face of the Game, a new mascot for Ubisoft. He’s in the game proper and his name is Vaas. He popped out of nowhere and stuck me with a knife. That didn’t kill me so much as kickstart a trippy hallucination sequence. I walked down a narrow path made up of television sets as Vaas poledanced to on side and I got to watch who I assume was the character I was controlling get mounted by a lady… on a ceiling. Upside-down sex! In a videogame!
There’s been an over saturation of first person shooters in recent years–to say otherwise would be denying the obvious. That said, this year’s E3 FPS crop packed a surprising amount of creativity and refreshing originality. Many of the shooters I played, or saw demoed, featured unique gameplay elements that set them apart from one another. Here are some of the best FPS games spotted on the E3 show floor.
343 Industries took on a heavy load with Halo 4. Bungie’s brainchild was so well-received for a reason, and the new developer is carrying one heck of a legacy with the new trilogy.
At Microsoft’s booth at E3, 343 Industries showed off a live demo of Halo 4′s campaign, which takes place five years after the end of Halo 3. Master Chief finds himself landing on Requiem, a Forerunner planet, and, in the first mission, goes to recover the UNSC warship Infinity.
Then 343 Industries let us loose to play multiplayer.
EA has taken major strides in mending its relationship with scorned gamers. EA Sports has been heavily criticized for releasing copy and paste titles (the Madden series), dropped its basketball series due to incompetence, and angered core gamers with its focus on casual and social titles. After today’s conference, however, I believe we can begin to look past the companies recent blunders. EA came out swinging and had one of the strongest showings in recent memory. There’s a lot that EA did right at its press conference.