When Climax Graphics first Dreamcast offering Blue Stinger debuted at lastyear's Fall Tokyo Game Show, it was considered one of the most visuallystunning games for the new system. At that time, sloppy charactermovements, animation and choppy camera work hampered what could be aDreamcast original. The initial release date was penciled in for a December3rd showing, but was quickly moved into the first quarter of 1999. Afterweeks of demos and various movies being shown around the Net, Blue Stingerfinally arrived on March 25th.
Were Climax Graphics able to rework the rough spots? Yes and in some cases, flatly, not even close. As first-generation games go, Blue Stinger is a fine example of whatplayers can look forward to in the second and third generation Dreamcastgames. From the outset the presentation is top notch. The CG scenes arebreath taking and fit nicely throughout the game. The in-game graphics arealso breath taking. Nice textures, colorful areas, and detailed propsround out the visual experience.
Climax Graphics wanted to provide a non-stop action game, and thus they have. While other gaming sites may disagree on this point, if you know what you are supposed to be doing, the game roles along at a nice pace. The puzzles are pretty straight forward,allowing even the novice player a chance to get involved in the game. Almost at every corner you will find something you must kill or do. Theenvironments are beautifully rendered and put the Resident Evil games tosleep. In particular is the shopping area, complete with Christmas relatedmusic and very detailed stores.
The storyline moves along nicely, allowing players to speculate what iscoming next. While at times you may think you have the whole story figuredout, there are plenty or surprises and turn of events to keep thingsinteresting. Again, many sites have blasted the voice acting in BlueStinger. While it is not a Hollywood production in the same vain as MetalGear Solid, it is standard fare with a bit more of adult related humor andcontent thrown. Finally we have a game where the characters swear whenpresented with natural swearing situations. While most games have the "oh,my god, what is that?", Blue Stinger goes direct for the "shit, what I amgoing to do" approach. It will be interesting to see if the coarselanguage is edited for other markets. It would be a shame if they removedit, or replaced it with cheesy Resident Evil type dialog.
Unfortunately the shortcomings in Blue Stinger are quite noticeable andannoying at times. This seems to be a characteristic of first generationDreamcast titles. Sega was close with Sonic and SR2, but both those gamesfelt rushed. While Blue Stinger does not feel rushed, it feels incomplete.The character movements are not what we have come to expect in a 128-bitsystem. Climax should have spent a lot more time on making the charactermovements more realistic. The characters also move quite slow, especiallywhen they are hurt. Dogs character is awful to move and is only used inbig battle scenarios. Throughout the game Elliot (the main character)changes life form. Without giving too much away, while he is intransition, he is extremely unforgiving to control.
The other major problemlies within the camera angles and movement. It is hard to believe thatClimax hired Hollywood talent to supervise the camera work. It shows thatHollywood has a long way to come in the video game arena. The camera isfixed and moves at its own will. Not as bad as Sonic but nevertheless canbe problematic at the worst of moments. For example, there are stageswhich require walking over some very narrow paths. The camera suddenlyshifts causing the player to fall to their demise. A player controllablecamera should be standard in games in this genre. While Climax was tryingto provide us with something new, they in fact have given us an unnecessaryheadache. Put these problems aside and Blue Stinger is a fun game to playthrough. Just when you think you are coming to the end, another objectiveor plot change is added, providing approximately 15 to 20 hours of play.
While this may be short for some, the game has replay value. There aremany things that players are more than likely to miss the first timethrough. Once cleared the second time is a little different. The factthat players have to 'earn' their weapons through purchasing them atvending machines, adds an extra variant where players must spend their hardearned money carefully and wisely.
As already mentioned, the production quality id quite good. The music issome of the best ever used in an action game. However Climax could havevaried it a little more, as it tends to loop too early and at times can beannoying. The addition of the rumble pak makes it fun to use the multitudeof weapons which are available in Blue Stinger.
Perhaps many of you are asking: What the hell was Climax Graphics doingbetween December and March? The answer would seem to lean toward thefollowing explanations: CG only tweaked the environments and overall lookof the game. The game was in fact ready to go a long time ago, evenpossibly December 3rd. Sega purposely pulled it back in order to spreadreleases out. Biohazard : Code Veronica was supposed to hit in Spring, andwhen it was obvious it was not going to come out anywhere close to thattime, Sega felt it needed something to fill the void and keep Dreamcastfaithful happy during the wait. Is there any fact in this? No officialword, but it doesn't take a genius to see something does not add up. Inaddition there have been many interviews with the developers and judgingfrom their comments the game has been ready for a while.
In the end, Blue Stinger is not the ground breaking game we all had dreamedof, but it is definitely worth a close look at. Climax Graphics shouldbe applauded for only having 18 people working on the game and getting theresult they have in the final product. Sega should be blamed for notputting more manpower and emphasis into Blue Stinger. Get over the sloppycharacter movement and camera work and you will have a fun time exploringthe world of Blue Stinger.
Review By: Micheal Weatherup