Review: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
- Worth The Time?Absolutely. Whether it's charging through the ridiculous narrative or hunting Blood Dragons, you'll be hard pressed to find a moment when you were'nt smiling.
- Things LovedTrue attention to the "80's VHS" era. Stunning recreation of the Rook Islands. The traditional Far Cry 3 gameplay with a few nice tweaks. Still various ways to approach objectives. Weapons feel powerful and come in all sorts of lovely variants. Extreme value for money. Using and fighting Blood Dragons is an absolute pleasure. Incredible soundtrack takes you back a few years, and then some.
- Things HatedVisuals can get stale after a while and mostly cause neon-induced headaches. Odd enemy behavior. Besides Blood Dragons, no new enemies to face. Still lacks incentive to visit the islands once all outposts are taken, especially with the lack of a crafting system.
- RecommendationThere is absolutely no reason to not pick up Blood Dragon. Besides being extremely cheap for the content on offer, Blood Dragon features pure, unadulterated fun in a tight and finely tuned package.
- Name: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC, PS3 (PSN) and Xbox 360 (XBLA)
- Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Price: $15
- Reviewed On: PC
There are only so many military shooters you can stomach before something like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon happens. In this rather lengthy and extremely enjoyable DLC, Ubisoft has accomplished a couple of things in an absolutely ridiculous fashion. With a focus on the outrageous, Blood Dragon manages to create and exciting and explosion filled alternate world to the tropical Rook islands, bringing along everything that was bad about the 80’s with it. And fret not,, even if you weren’t alive way back then you’ll definitely enjoy Blood Dragon’s ambiguous (and sometimes blatantly obvious) references to the era’s action films, music and vision of a dystopian future.
We’ve all seen those really old, really corny films from the 80’s that make predictions about the future in the year 2000. Not only is it hilarious to witness, it’s essentially the DNA behind Blood Dragon. The year is 2007, and the world has been ravaged by nuclear war. America is nothing more than a massive wasteland, with governments striving to find new avenues for peace. Through all this turmoil something was born, a new breed of super soldier. Part man, part machines, these ‘Mark IV Cyber Commandos’ are at the forefront of national security, and you, Rex “Power” Colt is the most badass of them all. Sounds like a thirteen year olds power hungry wet dream put onto a script right?
The VHS ear in the 80’s was fully of action flicks and sci-fi pictures that all held these plot points to heart, and it’s what Blood Dragon draws direct inspiration from. The over the top and intentionally stupid story is told through a series of 8-bit styled cutscenes, with muddy colours littering your screens. When the cutscenes fade away, you soon realise that this visual style had made a nice transition into the gameplay, with bright neon colours set across and ever-stormy sky. This is what the Rook Islands have been transformed into, and while visually appealing at first the style does wear thin after a few hours, and you’ll find yourself craving a simple day/ night cycle. Not only that, but the bright flashes of neon light combined with the rapid speed at which Rex moves sometimes makes for a headache inducing experience.
Speaking of Rex, Blood Dragon’s protagonist is probably one of the best parts of the standalone add-on. Voiced by Michael Biehn, commonly know for his roles in Aliens and Terminator, this “more machine than man” soldier embodies all the testosterone you could possibly wish for in a protagonist. He’s the stereotypical hero of an older age of action roles, seamlessly transitioning from a ruthless killer, which takes pride in his day job, to a poster boy against the use of drugs. Every line of dialogue may (or may not) feature a sexual undertone, but all this ridiculous writing fits in perfectly with the other characters and plot around you. It’s not meant to be taken seriously, but rather more comically, and it certainly delivers on that front.
In fact it’s through dialogue that Blood Dragon makes some rather comical statements about the state of the gaming industry at the moment. In a specific piece of dialogue, Doctor Elizabeth Darling, your main companion throughout the campaign, takes part in a particularly hilarious piece of dialogue, stating that games are “a proven coping mechanism” and that “anyone who thinks games are bad for you is a F.U.C.K.ing idiot”, with F.U.C.K. standing for “failing to understand our capacity for kindness”, of course. Combine this with running references to famous movie scenes and pop icons of the VHS era, and you’ve got a nicely bundled package that indulges in itself far too often but manages to stay entertaining rather than being straight up cheesy.
But none of this would be possible without a solid formula of gameplay supporting it, and Blood Dragon certainly delivers on this front as well. Gameplay is traditionally unchanged from Far Cry 3, with Rex still being able to sneak up and takedown enemies, race down ziplines and command forces of massive laser shooting lizards. Well, maybe that last part isn’t exactly something you remember from your first trip to the Rook Islands, but the inclusion of the massive lizards known as Blood Dragons is probably the biggest change to the gameplay formula. Ripping out cyber hearts from fallen enemies allows you to bait these large beasts into doing your dirty work for you, allowing you to twist them to your preferred play style. Want to run in guns blazing with a massive dragon by your side? You can do that. Want to use a Dragon to occupy forces at the front of a outpost while you sneak around infiltrate the compound from the rear? You can do that too. Using Blood Dragons is extremely entertaining and satisfying, but some of Blood Dragon’s finest moments come when you’re pitted up against one, or sometimes several, of these hulking lizards. Laser beams shooting from their eyes and their massive changes will rapidly delete your health, making them far more formidable foes than the rest of the cyber soldier cannon fodder that litters the island.
You’d expect the cyber soldiers of 2007 to put up at least a decent fight, but one of Blood Dragon’s most glaring problems is the exact opposite. Besides the fact that you only really fight three type of enemies, these helmet wearing baddies are sometimes so stupid that you actually feel bad for dispatching them so easily. While it makes the game considerably easier on lower difficulties, it also gives players a bit more freedom in the more cramped levels during the campaign, so in a way it’s not a complete deal breaking. However, it is a shame that a lot of the main campaign mission usually take you to a underground base, stripping away chances for stealth playthroughs and forcing you to come out guns blazing more often than not.
Thankfully Blood Dragon has you fully equipped to deal with the multitude of enemies thrown at you. Unlike Far Cry 3, Rex starts out pretty juiced up, with most takedown abilities unlocked from the get go. This somewhat makes gameplay feel more exciting from the beginning, rather than forcing players to grow a tattoo in order to enhance their skills. There’s still a persistent levelling system on offer, but this linear progression give you no choice as to what your next ability will be. Thankfully is constructed quite nicely, so you’ll never feel hard don by the lack of choice.
Apart from the levelling system, a few other features have been stripped from Blood Dragon, for better or worse. The entire crafting system has been booted, which is again somewhat a welcome change. You wouldn’t want to have to go hunting down cyber animal pelts just to carry two weapons again now would you? You’re a damn Cyber Commando; you’d expect Rex to be able to handle these types of things right from the beginning. Side-quests are still made available once you liberated much larger and more interesting outposts, again forcing you to kill everyone inside in order to liberate it. Side quests are largely the same as Far Cry with, aside from one change forcing you to kill a group of enemies while remaining hidden. Side quests unlock attachments for you weapons and reward you with cash money, which is a rather scarce resource if you don’t grind some animal hunting. On top of that there are collectible VHS tapes and television sets scattered around the island in order to keep you going well after the credits have rolled.
But the real star of this Blood Dragon show is undoubtedly the incredible soundtrack that is available as a separate download for retro fans. From the completely retro synth chords combined with loud drum machines, Blood Dragon’s soundtrack gives the entire package an accurate 80’s feels, and you’ll find it hard not to have a smile across your face when you hear a cheesy guitar riff combined with equally retro synth chord become the backdrop to your patriotic actions.
All in all, there really is no reason you shouldn’t be picking up Blood Dragon. Whether you’re itching for more Far Cry action or just have $15 needing a home, you can’t really go wrong here. The main campaign can be rushed through in under 4 hours, but you’ll most probably be spending a good 10 hours in Blood Dragons world, reclaiming outputs, killing robotic sharks and just being a complete badass. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon isn’t serious, nor should it be seen as such. It’s a videogame built for pure enjoyment, and it rarely misses a beat.