Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon review: sweet, sweet, cyber-love
Authored by Andrew Esposito
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When I first reported on Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, there were a lot of users on the site telling me that it was an April Fools joke. I mean, it had to be…. right? From the first teaser footage and the games official website, there was no way you’d think Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was a real game. Well guess what? It is, and it’s the best thing since Colecovision.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a standalone game that uses the Far Cry 3 engine. Being a standalone game, it means that you don’t have to own Far Cry 3 if you want to play Blood Dragon, which is pretty nice.
The game costs 1200 Microsoft points ($15) and is available on XBLA, PSN and PC.
We find ourselves in the far off future of 2007. The world has been ravaged by nuclear war and a darkened sky covers the land. You are Sergeant Rex Power-Colt, one of the last two remaining Mark-IV Cyber Commandos. With your best buddy Spider, the two of you are sent on a mission to stop your renegade commander Sloan, from launching even more nuclear missiles and taking over the world.
The story in Blood Dragon is incredible. From the opening sequence to the closing credits, the game is littered with homages to the 80s. There are references to movies like Predator, The Karate Kid, and Rocky IV (among countless others). The game also touches on some current events in ways that had me crying from laughter. With that said, if you think the 80s are dumb and hate movies from that era; A) what is wrong with you, and B) you won’t enjoy the tale Blood Dragon has to tell.
I don’t want to spoil anything from the story, but there are some truly incredible moments that you have to experience. The story does its job. It filters the player along at a great pace, and provides missions that allow you to explore the island and kill a lot of bad guys. It took me about 7 ½ hours to beat Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon plays very similarly to Far Cry 3, and that’s a good thing. My favorite aspect of Ubisoft’s 2012 shooter was traversing its open-world and doing one of the hundreds of side-quests the game had to offer. Whether it was taking over an enemy encampment, saving hostages from their captors, or hunting rare animals, Far Cry 3 had something for everyone. I am glad to say that Blood Dragon has all of these types of missions as well, however on a smaller scale.
There are 13 enemy garrisons in the game to that you can take over. These work the same way as in Far Cry 3. Get to a base, take out all of its inhabitants, and then claim that base for yourself. You always want to try and take the “stealth” route, but going in guns blazing is an option as well. Once these bases are liberated you can fast travel to them at any time.
One of the interesting wrinkles in Blood Dragon comes in the form of…. well, Blood Dragons. These are neon colored Komodo dragon looking creatures that pack a devastating punch when angered. However, they can be used to your advantage. Whenever you kill and pilfer an enemy, they drop “cyber hearts.” These hearts can be used to distract/lure Blood Dragons. This means that if you are attacking an enemy garrison and there is a Blood Dragon nearby, you can throw one of these hearts into the base and watch the dragon do all the work. The mechanic is reminiscent to that of shooting animal cages in Far Cry 3…. But instead you’re using a freaking dragon!
Besides the main quest and taking over enemy garrisons, you are able to partake in assassination, hunting, and hostage rescue missions. These are nothing new to people who played Far Cry 3. Assassinations have you locating and killing an enemy in a specific way. Hunting has you doing the same thing but with animals. The hostage rescue missions have you infiltrating an enemy encampment as you take out the hostage’s captors. Total, I would say (all three types combined), there were about 20 of these missions. Besides the story/side missions, there are a bunch of collectables in the game as well.
You will have a kick ass arsenal of weapons to tackle these missions with. There are about seven standard weapons in the game, four of which can be upgraded with silencers, larger magazine, laser bullets, explosive rounds, etc. There is also one weapon that you get at the end of the game that is amazing. I found that my main load out consisted of a neon-laser bow, a silenced laser pistol, an armor piercing assault rifle, and a sniper rifle that shot explosive rounds…. oh, and I always made sure to carry some C-4000 with me; 4000 times more explosive than stinky C-4.
I played through Blood Dragon on normal and it was an acceptable challenge. The game is much easier when you tackle it stealthy. That being said, it’s not an instant death if you’re spotted; just be ready for a firefight. There are a few set piece moments along the way, including multiple “on-rails” sections. Later on in the game there are a few wave based, arena type sections as well. These change up the pace a bit and are a welcome addition.
This is where Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon really shines. The game knows exactly what it’s trying to be. It grabs you by the fanny pack and never lets go. You will be smiling the whole time you’re playing Blood Dragon.
The cut scenes are delivered to you in an 8-bit, retro type way. They are funny, beautiful, and cheesy as hell. This game has some of the best/worst dialogue I have ever seen in a game, and I loved it. For anybody who lived through/knows about the 80s, you know how terribly cheesy they were. Michael Biehn (Terminator) does an amazing job delivering his lines and brining Rex to life.
The final thing to touch on (and something that you should have been listening to throughout this whole review) is the music. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has one of the best soundtracks ever. The score is full of 80s classic homages, synths, and keyboards. I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to the soundtrack since picking it up on iTunes. It’s incredible and really adds to the ambiance of the 80s ascetic.
One of the downsides of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is that the game can feel repetitive after a while (just like Far Cry 3). After the 13th captured garrison and the 20th side quest, you will be worn out with the game. However, I think this is a testament to the developers to know exactly how much to put in there before knowing the player would get bored. There are also some stiff animations/characters in the game. Nothing to raise an eyebrow at, but there are some noticeably bland looking enemies/indoor environments.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon shouldn’t exist. It was an incredible risky gamble for Ubisoft to take, and I’m incredibly happy that they did.
It’s Far Cry 3 but set in a “futuristic,” 80s themed, “paradise;” and there’s nothing wrong with that. The story, music, and gameplay all add up to being an incredible throwback experience, and one that you should not miss.
For $15 dollars you owe it yourself to play Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon…. If not for me then for America.
I played through a retail copy of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon that I bought off of Steam. The campaign took me about 7 1/2 hours to complete (doing all side-missions as well). I had the touch, I had the power…I had a hell of a time.