On the surface, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
may look like a complete parody of the awesomeness that was the 1980's. Dig deeper, and you find that it’s also a love letter of things that made the decade so great, as well as its so bad it’s good
qualities. Welcome to the future. Welcome to the year 2007.
From the very get go Blood Dragon
sets the tone with a grim outlook of the future. The world has been ravaged by nuclear war, leaving a broken civilization. The desolate feel evokes a Mad Max
kind of vibe (late 70s film but close enough), although much darker and injected with some neon. Compared to its cousin, the retail title Far Cry 3
, the setting of Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
seems to always be the victim of bad weather, with lightning strikes randomly gracing the sky and not a peep of sunlight. You can’t go to the beach and soak up rays in the apocalypse.
This makes no difference for the game’s protagonist, Rex Power Colt. He’s half man, half cyborg, and although he’s foul-mouthed and crass, he has an undying love for serving his country. The man behind the voice, action movie veteran Michael Biehn, really brings Rex to life. The dialogue is crude but never forced, delivered perfectly, and hilarious. Some may get sick of the one liners repeated throughout the game but the cutscene banter is terribly funny. Rex is like Duke Nukem
without being obnoxious.
The supporting cast is excellent as well. T.T. “Spider” Brown is your bro-tastic comrade in the field and token tough guy. Your guide throughout the game, Dr. Elizabeth Veronica Darling, personifies everything guys wanted in a woman in the 1980s: short hair and lots of syllables in their name. Then there’s Colonel Sloan, a villain who looks like he was ripped right out a G.I. Joe
If you’ve played Far Cry 3
, you’ll feel right at home with Blood Dragon
. Many of the game’s mechanics and abilities carry over, and some are unlocked from the beginning, giving those familiar with Far Cry 3
the tools to succeed from the get go without any of the hand holding. Newcomers shouldn't be afraid to jump in and will catch on to all of the mechanics very quickly. While Blood Dragon
strips down or eliminates some of its retail predecessor’s features in order to concentrate on a different, faster pacing, these changes allow for an experience that is incredibly well-designed. One big changes is, unlike Far Cry 3
, your skills are unlocked automatically as you level, rather than by ‘choosing your path’. Hunting plays a much smaller role and crafting has been eliminated altogether. Weapons have been simplified as well, but there’s still a nice variety that will lead to some decisions on which four to carry.
On one hand, the wildlife is a bit more sparse in Blood Dragon
, but, on the other hand, there are the Blood Dragons themselves. These are much bigger and more dangerous than anything Far Cry 3
offered and you’ll want an automatic weapon or several well placed explosive sniper shots to take them down. At first, these beasts seem incredibly threatening, but once you get some firepower and learn to lure them properly, they can be dispatched handily. Unfortunately, once one knows how to take them down, the difficulty evaporates. Furthermore, the Blood Dragons can be pretty hard to find which can make one of the achievements a chore.
The Outposts of Far Cry 3
have been replaced with Garrisons, which offer a great variety between them. You might have to contest with a pair of helicopters at one, or get the assistance of a Blood Dragon at another. There's some variety in their structure too, like Garrisons located remotely out in the water or mutli-level enclosures. Overtaking the Garrisons unlocks new side quests and fast travel locations, but more importantly, they're just fun to deal with. Whether you choose to use your bow and takedown abilities or go all out and opt for the quad barreled shotgun you'll have a blast with whatever approach you take.
There’s so much material to spoof from the 80s, and Blood Dragon takes on practically all of it. There’s references and homages to RoboCop
, and even Michael Jackson’s Thriller
. There’s countless others; too many to list. Other decades aren’t safe either, as well as the video game medium itself. They even go as far as ribbing other Ubisoft franchises; including Far Cry 3
. The 8-bit inspired cutscenes have a Zero Wing
quality to them, and their lack of moving animation is comical. There’s an instance where a character is pacing back and forth... yet his legs and knees aren’t moving. The tutorial and loading screens are topical and funny; you’ll be discussing them with friends for sure. Even the Data Log is full of humor. Pause the game every once in awhile and read the entries, you’ll be pleasantly tickled.
The achievements are relatively easy. I played through on Medium difficulty and did die on occasion, but if you put some emphasis on stealth this won’t happen too often. I suggest starting on Medium or Hard despite no achievements being tied to difficulty. There is one minor strife I had with the achievements: acquiring money to purchase upgrades became much harder after all the garrisons were liberated and the story and side missions were over. This made the “Tooled Up”
achievement a bit of a boring task at the end. There just isn’t much to do after the game is over. Hopefully they patch in the ability to reset the garrisons much like what they did for Far Cry 3
. Adding in an option for "Master Difficulty" would be welcome, as well. The rest of the achievements were pretty fun to go after and some thought definitely went into them, especially considering how many reference pop culture.
The gameplay mechanics are great, and the whole game is pretty hilarious throughout. That being said, I did find issues with a few things. The game itself is relatively short and although you get your money’s worth, a more populated island after the story is complete would certainly boost the value. One noticeable absence in Blood Dragon
was Far Cry 3
's ever-present danger from patrolling pirates and attacking wildlife when roaming the island. I was hoping the Blood Dragons themselves would provide this sense of danger but they can be avoided or taken care of pretty easily if you know what you’re doing.
Issues concerning length aside, the flaws present in Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
can't hold it back from our highest score. The humor can be appreciated by all, and this radical spin-off offers something quite different. My hope is that this isn’t the last we see of Rex Power Colt and Blood Dragon
. I'm eagerly awaiting new content, or (hopefully) a sequel.
The reviewer spent 15 hours (so far) completing the game on the Medium difficulty and started another campaign on Hard, liberating all the achievements along the way. This copy was purchased by the reviewer. For reasons unknown the reviewer has begun teasing her hair, wearing acid-wash jeans and leg warmers following her time with the game.