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Blue Stinger

 

  Blue Stinger was one of the earliest Dreamcast games released worldwide.  At the time it was meant to show off some of the impressive effects that the Dreamcast could pull off.  However, when the game was released, the visuals already appeared to be dated compared to other early Dreamcast games, such as Sonic Adventure and Toy Commander.  Though very different games, they showed the public what they wanted to see, high detail and smooth graphics.

  The general story of the game is to do with the Meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs.  In the year 2000 a massive earthquake causes a Ďchunkí of the Yucatan Peninsula to sink into the ocean- leaving a small Island directly in the centre of the where the land disappeared.  Scientists discovered that this piece of land was exactly the same size as the meteor that crashed into earth 65,000,000 years before.  The Island from then on was known as Dinosaur Island.

  A large scientific complex was built on the Island, by a biotech corporation known as Kimra, home to hundreds of scientists and civilians.  The Island was like a small city with shops, entertainment centres as well as the scientist compound.

  At the start of the game you see Elliot (your initial character) a young member of the Islands Emergency Sea Evacuation and Rescue, (ESER) basically a security guard on the Island, out on vacation, fishing with his friend a few miles out from Dinosaur Island. Suddenly a large missile-like meteor crashes directly into the centre of the Island, causing a huge shockwave that rocks your boat, nearly throwing you and your friend off.   You decide to head to the Island.  Meanwhile a huge force field appears from the crash site and expands stopping on your ship.  Your friend as well as the boat is trapped on two sides of the force field.

  The game was meant to be the new Resident Evil for the Dreamcast (before Resident Evil was confirmed).  A Survival Horror game of sorts, but with 3D graphics and effects, unlike the 2D backdrops in the Resident Evil games.

 

Here's our hero, Elliot, getting ready to kick some booty.

 

Graphics:

 The opening sequence graphics do look promising- with a brief sequence of dinosaurs and the meteorite hitting the Earth.  But then they go down hill.    The FMV in the game is pretty shoddy, itís not exactly FMV, itís more like the in game graphics- the way the characters look, but a bit more fluid- youíll see the characters do more complex movements and some of the joints look smoother. But overall I have seen much better in-game graphics in most Dreamcast games, in comparison to the FMV in Blue Stinger.

  So what are the in-game graphics like in Blue Stinger?  Well they arenít amazing.  But they certainly are not too bad. Considering this was one of the first games out, I think we can give the programmers some lenience.    Overall the graphics are like the FMV sequences, they are smooth and in some areas they show high detail- but the characters have large joint marks and their movements arenít too smooth.

  Some effects, like water, are not too bad, nice and transparent, but they are a bit bland.  Then you might find some more impressive effects- like the strange water nymph thing that follows you around- she gives off a warm glow and the lighting effects can be very helpful in some darker areas. 

  At one point, quite early on in the game, you enter the shopping district.    They are glowing signs all over and there is a large plasma screen with a moving image of Santa Claus (itís meant to be set at Christmas time) Ė and it looks like a real life image.  The picture doesnít have much movement in it, but considering the plasma screen is stuck in a place that is easy to ignore, they certainly put some effort into it.

  Also a few of the bigger enemies that you come across look pretty good- one of the first screen shots I saw of this game was of a large silvery dinosaur thing, which was very impressive to see for the first time- its just a pity that the main characters werenít as polished.

  

Gameplay:

 The overall feel to the game is mixed.  The characters that you control are a bit clumsy.  They can be awkward to steer in some of the more enclosed areas.  That said, the monsters you encounter are smoother and move a lot better than you do.

  The controls are very simple- quite similar to the Resident Evil games, but not quite the same.  For example in the Resident Evil games you have to aim before you fire your weapon.  In Blue Stinger you donít aim, you just pull out your weapon and fire- the character auto aims, so you donít really need to worry about missing too much.  But if you want you can go into the Ďlookí mode (A first person perspective where you can look at your surroundings- but canít move around) to see your enemy properly and fire- though this can be kind of tricky.

  Though the game is made out to be like Resident Evil and the few other Survival Horror games out there- like Carrier or Deep Fear- I realized that its not quite in the same genre.  The other survival horror games have fixed cameras, in weird angles, which change when you run past them.  But this is sort of like Tomb Raider or Mario 64, the camera follows you around, mainly floating just above your head, but if you turn around it will stay in the same place- so you can see yourself, until you run past it or re-center the camera angle.  This does give a different feel to the game, as it feels a lot more 3D as you can look at all the objects around you.

  A couple of other things that are very different to the Resident Evil games are the holding weapons and items.  In Resident Evil you have only a few item slots, so you have to be careful what you pick up. But in Blue Stinger there isnít any limit to what you can carry (at least there doesnít seem to be) and there arenít any storage boxes to place items.  Though another element of play is that in Resident Evil you have to find certain items to solve puzzles Ė Blue Stinger doesnít really have as many puzzle solving exploits.

  One other major difference is that you donít exactly find all of your weapons and ammunition or healing items.  You do find some, but all over the facility you find these special vending machines, usually near the save points, and you actually purchase ammunition or the weapon of your choice. Or buy a sandwich to heal yourself.  It is quite an interesting touch, a nice fresh approach.

  The way to earn money to buy ammunition is to kill enemies.  Not all baddies give you money, the smaller or bigger ones just tend to die, but the Ďbog standardí enemy that you encounter throughout most of the game, falls down and a load of coins spew out and you need to run around and collect them before they disappear.  This means that you will like to kill as many enemies as possible, so that you can go to the vending machines and stock up on shotgun ammunition and maybe a sandwich or two.

  One thing that always annoyed me in the Resident Evil games was that using your close range weapon (the survival knife) was useless Ė I only ever get a couple of hits in before the zombie grabs me and chews on my neck.  But in Blue Stinger you can punch and kick your opponents- and itís very effective, at least against your initial baddies.  Also you can buy/ find close combat weapons- like a spiky club giving you a bit of distance from your attacker and ensures that you donít get blood on your hands. Very good fun.

  

For a launch game, this game had some pretty decent graphics.

 

Presentation:

 The presentation of the game varies.  The FMV sequences arenít exactly very good (as mentioned before) the characters arenít incredibly detailed, and they have some very dodgy lip-syncing.  It seems as though they didnít even bother to try and make the lips move properly they just go up and down as you talk, like a human fish.  Also the script work and the acting is pretty poor, half the sentences that the characters use donít really make any sense, they donít really flow with whatís happening at the time.  If you think about the original Resident Evil on the PC, PSX and Saturn and how bad the acting and script was in that you should get some idea, though Blue Stingerís isnít quite as bad as that.

  The music and lighting effects in the game seem to be pretty good.  When you enter the shopping district for the first time, you should be taken aback a bit by the sudden change in atmosphere.  Large flashing lights and bright adverts replace all the dark and dingy lights and the music suddenly changes from over-dramatic Ďdanger musicí to a rather jolly Christmas style jingle.  Though it might feel welcoming, itís not, as you are almost immediately attacked by a couple of the weird creatures.

  Also in the shopping district they have this weird stamp collecting game thing, based on another Dreamcast game- PenPen Triicelon.  This is quite a nice little touch to the game and did make me laugh when I fist saw it.  But it is also quite strange as PenPen is made by Infogrames and Activision makes Blue Stinger Ė something like this doesnít usually happen unless the companies work on the game together. Weird.

 

 

Replay Value?

 The game is entertaining enough to want you to replay it, if it has reason to.  Which, luckily this game does. It has various little secrets to unlock once you complete the game.  And it has three difficulty settings and I believe that by completing the game on the various difficulty settings in different times will give you new bonus features.

 

We told Elliot to stop lighting his farts.

 

Worth Buying Now?

 If you are into games like Resident Evil, or would prefer a lighter style of play, then I would consider this.  Though please note that the style of play differs somewhat from the Resident Evil games so do not expect a direct clone of Capcomís survival horror series.

  And only buy the game if it is going cheap- because it is not really special enough to require and immediate purchase.  And in my opinion the Resident Evil games, especially Code Veronica, are a lot more enthralling and overall better games.

  Or if you have fairly young children that wants a Ďscaryí game to play then this might be a better option as the game is Ďlighterí than the Resident Evil games- although it does contain some mild swear words, so you may want to play through it yourself before letting your highly manipulative 7year old start playing.

 

Summary:

  This game is nothing special, but it is fun.  Once you get over the annoying acting and abysmal scripting that happens you should find the game to be quirky and enjoyable all over. 

 

Graphics: 7

Gameplay: 7

Presentation: 7

Replay Value: 8

Worth Buying Now? 6

Overall: 7

~G~