Video Game Reviews

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This isn’t what I remember 2007 looking like, but I was pretty drunk…

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Ubisoft
Reviewed On: XBLA
Also On: PC, PSN
Street: 04.30
 
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was assumed to be an April Fool’s joke: The initial premise sounded too good to be true, but it turns out that it was actually a legitimate game that just happened to be announced on April 1. That’s a mean trick, Ubisoft—but thank you. Stripping away the jungles of the original and replacing them with a neon-filled, post-nuclear year 2007, Blood Dragon is dripping with nostalgia and constant references to the ‘80s, starting with the loading screens inspired by VHS tracking. The game follows the story of Rex Power Colt, the archetypal ‘80s action-movie badass taken to a cybernetic extreme. You don’t care why he’s there, and neither does the game itself. The story is just an excuse for Rex, voiced by classic sci-fi hero Michael Biehn, to kick lots of cyborg ass, and it doesn’t waste a lot of time setting up a coherent story, concerned more with being corny and referencing everything imaginable. I particularly liked the changes from the original, like distracting enemies by throwing a 20-sided die instead of pebbles, hunting glowing-eyed tigers and shining silver cyber sharks, or the constant one-liners after every kill and groaning complaints after picking up every collectible. The new, game-changing mechanic works great, too: luring the eponymous blood dragons into the enemy base with cyber hearts ripped from your enemies’ chests to kill everything for you. Unfortunately, by the end of the game, the aesthetics start to grate pretty horribly. The neon landscape, in particular, started to burn my eyes, and I was actually kind of grateful when the credits started rolling. Still, the Far Cry 3 formula is addictive as hell for a reason, and I highly recommend Blood Dragon to anyone with a couple of bucks to spare. It’s a budget game, sure, but it’s worth the $15 for a few laughs. –Matt Brunk
 
Sonic the Hedgehog
SEGA
Reviewed On: iPad3
Also On: iOS/Android
Street: 05.15
 
It’s been a rough decade for SEGA and their blue hedgehog—from Shadow the Hedgehog to the derivative Sonic 4 episodes. There hasn’t been a lot to celebrate with the once-classic platformer franchise. Even their re-releases of old titles have had troubles on iOS, where a horrible emulator hindered performance and left classics like Golden Axe buggy, blurry and unplayable. Fortunately, this trend reversed in late 2011, when SEGA collaborated with emulation professional Christian Whitehead to adapt his unauthorized re-releases of Sonic games for mobile, beginning with a flawless translation of Sonic CD (the best Sonic game), and continuing this month with a transformative update to their existing Sonic the Hedgehog app. Gone are the jagged pixels, terrible sound and nearly unplayable controls of the original 2009 iOS port. With Whitehead’s emulator under the hood, Sonic looks, sounds and plays better than it ever has, purring along at a silky 60 frames per second. It even expands on the original in ways previously reserved for custom mods: Along with the ability to save, a time attack mode and tilt-based special stages, Sonic the Hedgehog allows players to control Tails and Knuckles after beating the game. Not only does this open the still-ingenious level design for gamers to explore every nook and cranny, but it preserves and enhances one of the most iconic platforming experiences ever—something any longtime gamer will appreciate. –Randy Dankievitch
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