Do you remember that fantastic bit in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, when Sam Neill and crew are racing away from a very angry Tyrannosaurus Rex who’s on the verge of chomping down on a wounded Jeff Goldblum? The very same thing happened to me in Ubisoft’s excellent Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. I was running through the jungles when all of a sudden a titular blood dragon caught my scent, and scared shitless, I dashed for the nearest vehicle before the creature chewed me to bits. It smacked the 4×4 around as I started it up, and gave chase as I pushed the petal to the metal, zipping like a madman down a dirt road. I honestly thought I was a goner when I heard the monster charge up its laser attack, but I managed to shake the predator when it gave up pursuit.
Developed by Ubisoft Montreal / Published by Ubisoft
Available on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Reviewed on the Xbox 360.
*Review copy provided by Ubisoft
It was a totally unscripted event that caught me off-guard, but it was an awesome one.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is all about being awesome, perfectly channeling the greatest bits of the 80’s and 90’s and turning it up to 11. At first it was the perfect April’s fools joke when it was initially revealed, but when it was announced that this perfect blend of retro pop-culture and over-the-top insanity was going to be playable, everyone was jumping with joy.
Is the game as epic as it claims to be however, or is this ode to the 80’s a letdown?
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon takes place in 2007, where the world is engulfed in nuclear warfare. New cyborg soldiers lead the fronts in battle. However, a rouge operative named Sloan has fled to an unnamed island, threatening to engulf the world in flames. Mark IV cyber commando Sergeant Rex “Power” Colt (voiced by the always excellent Micheal Biehn, of Terminator and Aliens fame), is outfitted with the latest duds and tools in order to infiltrate the island and put a stop to Sloan’s diabolical plans.
The story in Blood Dragon is crazier than it sounds, and that’s a good thing. Everything in Blood Dragon oozes stupidity, with jokes, references and settings that will keep you laughing all throughout the experience. When the games missions don’t have you reeling from laughter from all of the cool and crazy stuff you’ll be doing, Rex Colt will be keeping you busy with ridiculous one-liners and hand gestures that will keep you giggling.
The sound in the game is top-notch. Micheal Biehn and the others do a great job at bringing these exaggerated stereotypes to life, creating bad-ass cyber-soldiers, damsels in distress and power-hungry villains. The music by Power Glove is amazing as well, containing so much power synth that you’ll be banging your head more often than not. Overall, if you’ve been looking for something that sounds like the 80’s and 90’s, look no further.
Gameplay is structured just like Far Cry 3, and controls are similar to boot. Players must navigate an island full of enemies and wildlife, and must reach locations to initiate missions. There are also enemy garrisons, which players can liberate and then use as fast travel points, or browse through shops for ammo and weapon upgrades, and initiate side quests like hunting and rescue missions. Collectible items and leveling up also make a reappearance.
Weapons are similar to the offerings in Far Cry 3, though the new looks and awesome add-ons change them for the better. Blood Dragon comes with your typical assault and sniper rifles, shotguns, and pistols, but once they are upgraded they turn into bonafide beasts. Four barrel shotgun with explosive rounds, anyone? Later on in the game, players will also get access to high-powered weaponry that will absolutely destroy enemies. One in particular is so overpowered that it pretty much breaks the game, but thankfully it’s one that you’ll be getting towards the end of the experience.
In regards to enemies, the humanoid population in Blood Dragon are basically re-skinned foes from Far Cry 3. You got regular grunts, snipers, flamers, and big tank-like enemies, but this time they’re all outfitted in funky 80’s-inspired spandex suits and matching helmets. It’s a great look which really adds to the whole retro vibe. Animals are also mostly re-skins, outfitted with shiny, metallic exteriors to give them the appearance of being cybernetic, or grotesquely morphed with wounds and exposed flesh to make them look like mutants. The biggest addition here, of course, are the blood dragons, who are huge, frightening monsters that’ll sniff or hear you and pretty much rip you to shreds. By strategically using cyberhearts ripped off the chests of foes, players can lead blood dragons away from their position and even use them to attack unshielded garrisons, adding a whole new way of taking out enemy bases. It’s fun seeing how much carnage these mutant reptiles can create when left to their own devices.
Being an expansion pack, Blood Dragon doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles its predecessor had. The island you play in is pretty small, and with only seven main missions, the game doesn’t last very long. Thankfully the side missions and collectibles lengthen the experience somewhat. Choosing how Rex levels up is a unavailable here as well, as upgrades are automatically assigned instead. Don’t expect to go out into nature and farm or carve stuff up to make your own potions and salves too, as everything in Blood Dragon is bought with cold, hard cash.
Also missing is a multiplayer element. I would’ve loved to shoot stuff up with friends in the excellent world of Blood Dragon, but unfortunately it’s a no-go. It’s not necessary though, as the game is still fantastic as is.
Overall, I think Ubisoft nailed it with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It’s got everything you can hope for in a standalone expansion: a new environment, great story, awesome guns and cool, interesting gameplay mechanics. It’s just a cherry on top that the whole thing is inspired by an era where glam and excess was the norm. Despite the short campaign and limited options, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a beautiful game that’ll keep you glued to your controller for hours.