Resident Evil it Ain't - Review By Adangelo
The genre of survival horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill have quickly gained a lasting place in this gamers heart. I've always enjoyed horror movies and when I played Resident Evil for the first time I quickly fell in love. As with most games in the genre, plot is the most important thing. Without an enthralling storyline, the game flops. Blue Stinger is no exception.
The story is this: An asteroid is hurtling towards the Earth some sixty five million years ago. Upon contact, the massive destruction that follows lays waste to the dinosaurs. Now in the 21st century, at the exact place where the asteroid hit millions of years ago, an island has formed and been given the extremely unoriginal name of Dinosaur Island. The story then cuts to outer space, as we catch a glimpse at yet another asteroid, also on a collision course with Earth. It's your job to stop it.
First, let me start off by saying that the musical score in this game is by far the most dramatic score I have ever laid ears on. I, being a musical aficionado of sorts, never like videogame music, but Blue Stinger is the exception. It gives the game a Hollywood-style big-budget movie feeling. A game soundtrack has never moved me until Blue Stinger came along.
Blue Stinger features some suitably nasty monsters
But let's face it: music isn't all there is to a game. So let's move on.
The combat in the game is very much similar to that of the Resident Evil series which, sports nifty weapons, such as napalm guns, bazookas, plasma rifles, machine guns, rail guns, and my personal favorite the Star Wars light saber rip-off, the Raysword. All these weapons make the combat fun to watch and with the virtually unlimited amount of ammo, which I'm not fond of, allows for mass destruction. Combat is kept simple. As long as you're facing an enemy, the nearest one is targeted and the shot hits. The combat isn't as sparse as in the Resident Evil games makes things fun but doesn't give that level of suspense that Resident Evil had.
The puzzles in the game are standard. You will spend a lot of time trying to find out how to get into locked rooms, but the puzzles aren't limited to just that. You will find in the game a group of people stuck in an elevator and the puzzle consists of trying to free them before it falls. Many puzzles are all about searching for items, for instance at one point you come across a sick patient and must find them medicine (ala Resident Evil 1). All in all the puzzles are fairly simple, nothing to bust your brain over which is fine by me. I like my games to go on a steady pace and not screech to a halt because of an insanely hard puzzle that detracts from the gameplay.
The plot has many twists and turns along the way like any good adventure game should. You'll meet up with other controllable characters such as Dogs, the foul-mouthed ship captain. Every time an important event occurs you are treated to some beautifully rendered CG graphics that rival Final Fantasy VIII. The plot unfolds in a linear fashion, with the main objective being the ever famous "save the world from destruction" theme we've been seeing since the days of Space Invaders. You will see the story unfold as you slowly figure out why the asteroid is falling towards Earth and discover who is behind the whole shebang. Overall, the plot is what kept me in front of the TV for as long as it did. Without the entertaining plot, Blue Stinger would have been like Tomb Raider without Lara Croft, and obviously wouldn't be any fun.
The cutscenes are very well done. "Mmmmm... Oatmeal..."
The controls in the game are easy to use and very effective, which allowed me to pick up the game and start playing within 5 minutes without having to read the manual right off the bat. This is always refreshing to the impatient gamer like myself. The in-game control is responsive and as good if not better than the controls of Resident Evil, with extras like auto targeting as long as you're facing in the enemy's direction.
Next up is the graphics. The character's textures are in beautiful hi-res and the enemy creatures in the game are extremely well done with a distinct Gigeresque feel to them (Giger is creator of what the Alien from Aliens looks like, just a little tidbit for all you youngins' out there). While they don't have the same appeal that Resident Evil's zombies had, the monsters do fall into a category of their own, all richly detailed and a hell of a lot of fun to kill. Some of the bigger "boss" creatures are astonishing in size and a marvel to look at. My mouth was agape in surprise when I first encountered some of them.
Welp, that about covers the graphics, controls, and sound. Everything seems to be going well, but don't get your hopes up too high because it's time to move onto....
Where to begin? First, let's address the game's biggest flaw: the camera exemplifies exactly what not to do in a survival horror game.
The characters are animated so poorly that it makes you wonder if there are numerous sharp objects in their pants.
The camera follows the main character, Elliot Ballad, in a third person view. This detracts very much from survival horror feel and makes it seem more like Tomb Raider... Why, oh why, did they do this? I have no idea, but let me state that without the fixed camera view which was in the Japanese version this game doesn't really belong in the survival horror genre. The camera followed me just fine in the game but the game lacks a dramatic feel.
Next up are the character animations, although the graphics are beautiful, the characters walk around as if they have some kind of mental disorder. They lumber around stiffly much like the main characters did in Resident Evil. Why am I nitpicky about this? It's quite simple: if I'm playing on a next-generation console, I want a next-generation game. I know that the Dreamcast is capable of fluid animation - just look at NFL2K - and there is no excuse for the lack of animation the characters in Blue Stinger have.
Next up is a gripe I have about the game is the voice acting. Where Resident Evil can get away with the terrible voice acting due to its B-movie type feel, Blue Stinger can't. The game is presented in a summer blockbuster type of way, and while I'm not asking for superstar Hollywood actors to provide the voices, there is no excuse for the dreadful voice acting. There are so many dramatic pauses in-between sentences that I seriously believe that they got a cracked-out William Shatner to do all the voices.
The last complaint is simply a feature that I personally didn't like. Some people may feel the same and others might think I'm out of my mind: When a monster is killed in Blue Stinger, they leave behind money. The money can in turn be used to buy ammo and health from vending machines that pop up way too frequently. This again takes away from the survival horror feel. I loved the fact that I had to conserve ammo in Resident
Evil and be on the lookout for new weapons. This game gives you an arsenal of weapons the army would be jealous of and saving ammo is of no concern. This turns the game into a modern day hybrid shoot 'em up.
The Final Word
Blue Stinger isn't all bad, although it is a bit short. I did like watching the story unfold and enjoyed the exciting climax. Although the dialogue was poorly done, the plot kept me enthralled. While Blue Stinger lacks in many areas, it did keep my interest throughout the entire game, which is worth quite a few brownie points. If Blue Stinger would have been presented in true survival horror fashion then it may have scored higher, but that isn't the case. I guess we'll have to wait for Resident Evil: Code Veronica to provide us with the horror experience Blue Stinger largely failed to deliver.
Developer: Climax Graphics
Highs: Good Graphics, moving musical score, easy to learn control
scheme, enthralling plot, puzzles are simplistic yet not dull, cool
Lows: Crappy camera, poor character animation, bad voice acting, not
really a survival horror game.
Other: 1 player, VMU Compatible (for saving progress), Jump Pack Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
Visit this Game's Dreamcast Database Entry
Comments on this review? Mail Feedback.