Sci-fi thrives in the world of video games
By Chris O'Neal 05/09/2013
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, available now across all platforms, $14.99.
Cyberpunk 2077 will be available in 2015.
Watching Oblivion twice this week had me pondering the future of science fiction. Whatever feelings for Tom Cruise you may or may not harbor, Oblivion dredged up memories of my first run-in with sci-fi via The Terminator (and other post-apocalypse tales of doom and robots), which brought on further thinking: why have video games surpassed films in the sci-fi department, and where the hell can we find great sci-fi on a console? Turns out it’s everywhere you want it to be.
Good science fiction takes real-world situations and turns them into something vaguely familiar yet otherwise new and, sometimes, alien. Take a look at the Deus Ex or Portal series for a not-too-unbelievable glimpse into the future with human/robotic augmentations. If, however, for you science fiction means completely the opposite — an entirely new concept of reality — look no further than Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
Blood Dragon seemed at first like a joke. A trailer released several months ago by Ubisoft, the creators of the Far Cry series, showed a futuristic world with half-man, half-machine soldiers battling enhanced dinosaurs with freakin’ laser beams on their heads. As it turns out, it wasn’t a joke. This expansion of the popular series takes the meaning of science fiction to the extreme. This would be as if the series Lost suddenly introduced human-like gorillas bent on defrauding the World Bank.
Michael Biehn voices Rex, an American cybernetic super-soldier sent to the island to stop the mad villain Dr. Sloan from reverting the world back to prehistoric times — at all costs. That name might sound familiar. He was John Connor’s future-father in The Terminator. His voice lends a grizzled machismo to Rex.
The world is given the true ’80s feel, from a soundtrack by the retro electronica band Power Glove to quippy one-liners that’ll have you feeling as if you’ve fallen into a tank driven by Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Dolph Lundgren simultaneously. While the game plays like a first-person shooter and isn’t incredibly innovative, stick around for the story and the over-the-top cheesiness. It’s a shot in the arm for those longing for the lost decade of sci-fi.
Rumors. Rumors are what get the Internet a-buzzin’. Only on hidden forums is the discussion turned toward Fleetwood Mac, however. Go to any gaming message board and you’ll see rumors abound, mostly of the next generation consoles, the so-called Xbox 720 and the Playstation 4. Some good, but mostly bad.
The latest rumor straight out of science fiction, and probably predicted by H.G. Wells, is that between the two of them, discs won’t be utilized. Imagine a streaming gaming system that simply downloads material instead of needing a physical copy. Or one that won’t allow used games. More like Orwellian, am I right?
No need to begin worrying now. Let’s focus on the present. Let’s talk about Cyberpunk 2077.
The original Cyberpunk 2013 and 2020 were pen-and-paper ordeals. Now we step into the world of the future on the console. Crime is a problem in the future, especially since criminals can become easily augmented with weaponry. This is where the police step in: to capture and convert criminals to the “good” side.
Players will develop characters with customizable traits. Are you the type of person who’d charge into a situation, guns blazing, or would you rather hack your enemies and control them from within? Think Ghost in the Shell meets the aforementioned Deus Ex, which was notably inspired by the original Cyberpunk.
Science fiction. Literally the world of dreams. Dreamers imagining electric sheep and such, futuristic devices and technologies not so far out of reach. We turn to sci-fi sometimes as an escape from reality; but at other times, and far more often, to catch a glimpse of what’s to come, however terrifying or totally radical that may be.
Chris O’Neal’s real name is Tracy Morgan. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal and read more of his work at allthepretty.com.