Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
There really isn’t a single subtle thing to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which revels in its own stupidity to almost absurd levels. Taking the mick out of everything we remember from all that cheesy 80’s culture, it’s bad to the level that it’s actually highly enjoyable, in the way that you might just get some kicks out of the awful Sunday afternoon movie when you had nothing else better to watch. Couple all these over-the-top shenanigans with the polished gameplay of the original Far Cry 3 and what you have is the recipe for a fist-pumping, nostalgic trip guaranteed to make kids of that era cheer with glee.
The first thing you’ll notice is the wacky presentation, which is a throwback to not only the music of the time, but also to VHS tapes, hammy dialogue and basic cutscenes that owners of the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) should remember. You won’t find any breath-taking vistas this time around, nor should you ever care to; Blood Dragon is all about taking you by the ‘robo balls’ and leading you across an island filled with enemy outposts, mechanised animals and all the neon blue hallways a good cyber-warrior can handle. It’s all in the name of the retro sci-fi vibe, which the game merrily waves around with reckless abandon.
Things wouldn’t have been complete without the right voice actor, and who better to lead the charge than Terminator’s Kyle Reese? Michael Biehn voices Rex Power Colt; the cybernetic soldier with a penchant for laughable one-liners and a ‘too cool for school’ attitude, standing beside Bioshock Infinite’s Booker DeWitt as an example as to why it’s a cop-out to create a silent protagonist in the name of ‘immersion’ – now we know that’s downright lazy. The quips come hard and fast at various points in the game, and while it’s never quite side-splittingly funny, the delivery is likely to have you smiling right through to the end.
Although lacking in main missions when compared to the original Far Cry 3 (this quest clocks in at under 5 hours with occasional bouts of exploration), there’s plenty of content to warrant the twelve pound entry fee. Side missions provide attachments for your guns, but there’s little reason to hunt like you did in the main game as you won’t be crafting extra pouches or quivers, or even collecting herbs because of Colt’s disdain for drugs. Liberating outposts provides access to more side missions and while many of these adhere to a formula, you might just find a few fun surprises too.
Blood Dragons – from which the game’s name is derived – roam the landscape and are represented by big, glowing icons on the mini-map. These are strong, fierce and shoot lasers when angered, so it’s important to keep low and quiet should one approach. Despite having a prominent role in the campaign itself, they can also be used to your advantage when liberating outposts; you can go in guns blazing if you wish, or you can take out the shield system and throw a cyber-heart to attract the nearest dragon towards enemy forces. There are complications during the story, but to reveal much more would be to rob the game of the surprises that make it a joy to play. Dino fans will have to get their kicks from these glowing lizards for now, as no other new creature types have been added beyond the re-skinned robo-animals.
If exploration was your thing in Far Cry 3, then Ubisoft has you covered. VHS tapes, TV sets and item boxes make up the bulk of the collectibles, rewarding you with new weapon upgrades should you take the time to pilfer around. It’s anything but mandatory, as Rex really does live up to his ‘Power’ middle name; he can seem overpowered at times, at least until he comes face to face with a Blood Dragon or two. It’s all in the name of giving you the power and tools to have an absolute blast.
That’s not to say that the game is perfect, because it really isn’t. The purple and red hues may get tough on the eyes after a while, most gun attachments won’t be available until after you’ve finished the story (unless you leave it until every outpost has been secured, which you won’t), the basic cutscenes can go on for too long and an ill-advised trial section leaves a rotten taste in your mouth close to the endgame. All that said, this is a creative title that evokes a unique theme unlike anything you’ve seen in recent times, when it could have taken the easy route and offered more of the same.
This is a downloadable game that dares to dream big and pulls it off by throwing caution to the wind and letting loose, but on a very solid base of gameplay mechanics. It’s Far Cry 3 with a cyborg hero, a new lick of paint and a heavy dose of imagination. Fans of the FPS genre and anyone with fond memories of the 1980’s owe it to themselves to experience the self-parody that is Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It might not be an add-on for the original FC3, but this is still downloadable content done right – better yet, releasing it as an Arcade title only broadens its potential audience. Strap in with Sergeant Rex Power Colt and take a trip to a retro future unlike any other.
This review is based on a PlayStation 3 copy obtained from Ubisoft.
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