Review: Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon blends modern with retro, and a healthy dose of ridiculous
Remember Back to the Future 2 and its hilarious, technologically advanced look at the year 2015? That is essentially Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon; an 80's representation of the year 2007, complete with neon lights, bad guys in motorcycle helmets, laser weapons, an incredibily
bad awesome synth soundtrack, and hilariously retro cutscenes that would have been at home in the NES era. So what the heck is Blood Dragon all about, and why is it called Far Cry 3?
The game bears the Far Cry 3 name because it uses the same engine, plain and simple. If you've played the absolutely brilliant Far Cry 3, you'll jump right into the game with no problems whatsoever. It will all feel second nature. Except Blood Dragon isn't a continuation of FC3's storyline, nor is it some sort of deranged dream that Vaas or Jason is having. Blood Dragon is a completely new story that doesn't take itself seriously, not at all, and thus acts as a standalone title, rather than an expansion.
You play as Rex "Power" Colt, a Mark IV cyborg (half human, half badass robot) on a mission to stop an Omega Force agent gone rogue. The plot screams 80s and 90s action movie, and that's certainly not a bad thing. Michael Biehn steps into the role of Rex and fits like a glove into the grizzled-soldier-with-an-attitude role.
Blood Dragon follows a similar format as its retail brother. You still have an island to roam around (albeit a much smaller chunk this time around) with 13 outposts to take over and a few dozen side missions to partake in. There isn't a lot of variety in these, as they only consist of either helping out a hostage by silently taking out his captors or hunting the various wildlife with appointed weaponry.
There are also various challenges and collectibles scattered around the island, putting you on the hunt for old television sets, VHS tapes and documents. There are 12 animals to kill, which, given your current weaponry, won't be as difficult as those in FC3.
Roaming the island are the titular Blood Dragons, large lizards that shoot laser beams out of their mouths, charge at you with full speed and change colors like a Big Daddy or Songbird depending on whether they're passive (green), alert (yellow) or aggressive (red). They're dangerous, and you won't be able to take them head-on from the get go. To help bypass these creatures, you can rip out cyber hearts from dead enemies, which you can then throw to distract them, if at least for a few seconds.
There is leveling and skill progression in Blood Dragon, but unlike Far Cry 3, you can't pick and choose your upgrades. Rather, each level you attain will net you a bonus to your character, many of which are similar to those found in FC3, such as the ability to bring down heavily armored soldiers with a stealth takedown. Don't fret though, Rex starts off with almost all the necessary badass skills right from the beginning. You'll be able to sprint fast, perform takedowns from below and above, breathe underwater forever, and wield four weapons as soon as you make your first step onto the island (but not before the absurdly hilarious tutorial sequence, which I've added below).
The game has some fairly obvious nods to Terminator, but movies like Rocky, Star Wars, and Karate Kid get parodied as well. Also, you can't have an 80s parody without a training montage. Rex spouts recognizable quotes like "Winners don't do drugs" and "I got the touch, I got the power." It's all great fun, but the best part is that it works in the context of Blood Dragon. It's not supposed to be taken seriously.
Those who played through Far Cry 3 stealthily will be a little puzzled by Blood Dragon's design at first, because the game is meant to be more action-based. While it certainly includes stealth segments, being sneaky is not as encouraged as it was in FC3. For example, taking over outposts completely unseen no longer yields bonus EXP. However, running and gunning does make more sense in the context of an 80s action movie, so the joke's on me.
Given its $14.99 price tag, it's only fitting that Blood Dragon isn't overly long. The main story, which consists of seven missions, can easily be completed under 3 hours, but that time can easily be doubled if you want to do everything in the game.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is absolutely great fun. It might not be the meaty experience you get with Far Cry 3, but the over-the-top story, line delivery and humorous representation of an 80s view of the year 2007 makes for an absolute must-buy for those who enjoy the action flicks of that era. And who doesn't want to see Michael Biehn step into the role he was born for, am I right?!
[Reviewed on PC]