|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
With the launch of the Sega Dreamcast, a world of gaming possibilities opened, for new tales to be told with unparalleled realism and graphic quality. Until such games exist, gamers will take whatever they can get. Thus is guaranteed the success of the dull Blue Stinger, from Activision.
Stinger's story is a strange one. In the year 2000, an earthquake reveals the 65-million year old, dinosaur-killing meteorite, now an island in the Yucatan Peninsula. "Dinosaur Island" quickly becomes the site of a research lab. In 2017, another meteorite strikes the island, sealing the island off from the rest of the world and unleashing hordes of monsters. It's up to rescuer Eliot Ballade to uncover the mystery of Dinosaur Island and get out alive.
The storyline may sound interesting, but it doesn't play out that way. The characters Eliot meets (including the playable Captain Dogs) are uninteresting, unconvincing bores. The dialogue is poorly-written, the voice-acting is insipid, and only a fan of Japanese animation could excuse the terrible lip-syncing.
The game plays similarly to Tomb Raider, with an over-the-shoulder camera following Eliot's movements. Control has both strong and weak points. Interacting with the environment is flawless: Eliot easily climbs, pushes, and fires. There are separate buttons for armed and unarmed attacks, giving players the option to conserve ammo. But in general movement, the control fails. Eliot doesn't always do as he's told; for example, he may continue to charge straight ahead, ignoring a direct command to make a left turn. The camera gets tight in confined spaces, making accurate movement difficult.
The graphics do not reflect the system's 128-bit power. The full-motion video sequences, such as the opening movie, are impressive, yet rare. The game itself sports no such visual eye-poppers; instead, we see Eliot awkwardly running through seaports, laboratories, and other uninteresting locales. Like the game's mall setting, there's nothing here to make you want to stop and take a closer look.
Blue Stinger is challenging — for all the wrong reasons. Many monsters must be met in hand-to-hand combat, which resolves to mindless button-mashing. After losing a third of his energy to such battles, Eliot starts limping, causing him to take further damage by hindering his ability to quickly avoid attacks. Plus, attention must be paid to graphical detail, else the necessary door or item may be overlooked.
New Dreamcast owners looking for a quick action-adventure fix will have no choice but to turn to the only game in town. Blue Stinger will assuredly be a financial success, but it sets no gameplay milestones.
This article is copyright (c) 1999, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 13-Sep-99