Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review

If you could put two parts 80’s actions films, one part neon clothing of the era, and just a dash of hair band music riffs all into a blender, mix it high for ten minutes, and pour it out in videogame form, you would end up with the incredibly absurd, and somehow comforting world of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. To put it plainly, Blood Dragon is basically a mod for one of the best games released last year and while familiar, it’s not quite like anything that has been done before.

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Blood Dragon takes place in the apocalyptic retro-future of 2007, after Canada has been nuked into a toxic wasteland and mutated animals and humans cyborgs run amok in the world. You take the role of Sergeant Rex Power Colt (voiced by 80s action star Michael Biehn), a cyborg commando who is on a mission to take down his old commander, a hulking cyborg turned rogue named Sloan. Right from the get-go, with the title screen seemingly being played on a VCR with the tracking static dancing across the screen, you can tell that Blood Dragon is something special. The game is goofy and ludicrous– hell, there’s even a dedicated button for flipping the bird–but at the same time it is a very competent and stylish shooter.

It’s the subtle things found in the game, like the icon that appears on screen when you are crouching that is a silhouette of a naked Arnold kneeling at the start of The Terminator, or the A.J.M pistol that was named after a “fallen Detroit Police officer”, and the absolutely corny one-liners like “I got shotgun” after unloading his double-barreled into an enemy, that bring the referential camp of the game to the forefront and embraces it in a giant, smiling, and knowing bear hug. There are just so many things in this game that hit the retro nail on the head and continues to do so right up to the very end.

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The main campaign won’t take long to complete as there are only a handful of missions, but the NES-styled cut scenes between each and the sappy dialogue will have hooked right to the end. Once you have completed the campaign, there are plenty of other things to keep you occupied on the island. Much like the outposts found in Far Cry 3 that were scattered across the islands, there are 12 garrisons spread about the island that need to be liberated of the enemy’s occupation.

Unlike in Far Cry 3 where there were random and even accidental ways that you could take the enemies out to free the outposts, they aren’t available here. To free the garrisons you will have to either enter the base and kill everyone within or drop the Mega-Shield that surrounds the area and hope a Blood Dragon finds its way in to wreck shop.

Unfortunately, the titular Dragons who are first introduced as earth-shaking behemoths that fire lasers from their eyes, seldom show up once the game gets going. They only seem to randomly appear once in a while outside of missions, making the purpose of pilfering the enemies you kill for their cyber hearts—-which you use as bait for the dragons to chase—-unnecessary as they never posed much of an issue and rarely showed up at garrisons. Once each base is free of Omega Force occupation, there are extra missions and stores that are then unlocked.

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The extra missions that can be performed from liberated garrisons are the Predator’s Path missions that require you to hunt down a specific rare animal with the weapon provided, and Hostage Rescue missions where you are required to free a scientist from a group of Omega Soldiers who can be found doing some rather odd things to them at times. The Hostage missions are a nice addition and make you use your stealth to creep up on the guards undetected to take them out before they spot you and kill the hostage.

One of the only complaints that I had with Blood Dragon, other than the side missions getting a little too monotonous and not being all that long, was that unlike Far Cry 3’s choice of upgrades you got to pick as you gained experience; here you are given a set of compulsory upgrades for each set of levels you gain. For level 4 you will earn an additional health slot, while at level 5 you will earn improved accuracy with the bow, and so on. It’s a minor issue, but is a little odd being told what skills you earned instead of being able to pick, but there are only 30 levels to earn and you’ll have all of the skills available easily enough.

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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a great homage to the 80’s and I think it’s safe to say that those who grew up during that time will have more of an affection for the game than those who didn’t get to appreciate the incredible quirkiness of the decade. The game captures the core of the entertainment time period perfectly and wraps it around one of the best game released last year. With the two combined, and costing $15 for the download, Blood Dragon is easily one of the most memorable and bat-shit crazy titles released to date.

score9 Title: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Rating: M
Release Date: May 1st, 2013
Platforms Available: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Platformed Reviewed: Xbox 360
Game provided for review