I’m going to commit the equivalent of article suicide: I’m going to tell you right now, in the first sentence of my review, to go buy this game and read all the menu items and look for all the Easter eggs.
There, you can stop reading now. For those of you who like to flog yourself with my writing, I’ve written the full review below.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a game built on the engine of nostalgia. The Ubisoft team created a love letter to their childhood heroes, and they’ve done it with the incredibly solid and addicting gameplay of Far Cry 3. This game isn’t just a one-trick pony: though it runs the risk of being too over-the-top, FC3: BD is refreshingly self-aware enough to avoid the pitfalls of a (too) repetitive joke.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a game for gamers. What I mean by that is, this is a game that breaks the fourth wall and invites you in on the jokes and tropes of both old-school action movies and the action game genre itself. Helpful loading screen advice includes: “Enemies in range can be shot” and “Use cover to stay behind things” while a tracking symbol and static roll across your screen. This is the first indication that this game might be…a little different.
Whereas Far Cry 3 claimed to be a satire, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is an actual epitome of satire and a delight to play. I mean, the hardest part of writing this review is not quoting almost every line of text and dialogue. It’s that hilarious. They also had a whole section about how violent games don’t cause violence…it was breathtaking. Oh, and you throw dice instead of rocks and the scientists say adorably geeky things and your computer calls you a nerd–
Okay, I’m going to stop making out with the game long enough to tell you all about it.
You play Rex Power Colt (voiced by the super-legit Michael Biehn), one of the last Mark IV Super Cyber Commandos on the planet. With your buddy Spider and the sultry Dr. Elizabeth Veronica Darling, you have to take down the crazy Colonel Ike Sloan and unravel the mystery of the Blood Dragons. Or something like that. The in-game manual has a completely different plot listed. Have fun with that.
The plot is straight out of an 80s action flick, with over-the-top dialogue, lots of stereotypes (the black sidekick with a potty mouth, the female scientist with the ridiculous name that all the men want, etc.), and implausible situations involving sharks and infiltration.
I had very minor problems with the story, but all were based on issues that existed in movies in the 80s, so I couldn’t actually be mad. The game was just being true to slightly racist and sexist source material. I mean, you can’t fault a game with a training montage: it’s just against the rules of fair play. Even if there is a sassy black best friend yelling “WE NEED TO RECALIBRATE YO ASS!”
Chrome, lasers, cyborgs, neon, and smoke: that’s the aesthetic of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. The graphics are technically just as beautiful as Far Cry 3, but the smoke and dark color scheme make it a lot harder to see enemies (hence why they glow red) and harder to appreciate the beauty of the island. On the other hand, it looks pretty cool, and the nice touches like the city-at-war in the background add an interesting layer to the horizon.
The music in this game is fantastic. They capture the rocking spirit of 80s and 90s action movies and also manage to incorporate some sounds from Far Cry 3 as well. The music kept the energy high in enemy encounters and made you feel like a badass during stealthy infiltration missions.
There are a lot of the same elements in FC3: BD as there were in FC3, as is only to be expected in a derivative game. On the other hand, there are plenty of little differences that give the game a spirit of its own.
Your camera has been turned into your Cyber Eye, a device that makes a lot of sense for a cyber commander to have. Your hand is now a cyber hand and you have lovely cyber powers, including the ability to breathe underwater (thanks to your cyber lungs), survive falls from any height,and run really fast.
There are seemingly fewer animals than were present in Far Cry 3, and the animals that make it into this game are a little…different. A little more cyber. Please do yourself a favor and read EVERYTHING in the Research Data section of your Data Console. The writers in this game had a ball.
Missions and Adventures
There are seven missions, each pretty difficult unless you spend a lot of time leveling up. They are all multi-tiered and ultimately insanely rewarding. You’ll get that sentence when you finish a few of them.
Besides the actual missions, your character can also explore the island and complete quests for weapon upgrades. Quest types include hunting/wanted quests, liberating garrisons, and finding collectibles. One of the new mission types involves rescuing hostages before they’re shot to pieces, which was quite fun.
In Far Cry 3, liberating garrisons could involve enlisting a tiger or a group of komodos; now you can lure a giant, insanely over-powered dragon into their midst instead…after knocking down their anti-dragon shields. I loved the new range of choices the generators opened up.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about how awesome blood dragons are. You remember that slight bit of fear that struck your heart the first few times you unexpectedly ran into a tiger or bear in Far Cry 3? Remember how they were a little difficult to kill and you had that second of panic before getting into gear and working to dispatch it?
Well now imagine that tiger/bear is waaay bigger, much stronger, and a lot more damage resistant. Imagine that it shakes the ground when it runs towards you, that you can practically feel its eye lasers grazing the back of your neck as you jump down the cliff in an effort to escape.
So much is done right with the blood dragons. Not only do they manage to create a real feeling of danger, but they also add an interesting layer to the strategy of taking down a garrison or group of soldiers. They have three stages: dormant, watchful, and attack mode, as indicated by the colors of a stoplight. You can lure a blood dragon with a cyber heart, something you rip out of the chest of cyber soldiers you after you murder them.
As I sped away from one dragon when I ran out of bullets, I tossed a cyber heart to the left to distract it and snagged a hang glider, narrowly missing eye lasers as I glided to safety…and I remember thinking: this is why you play Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
Combat is the same as in Far Cry 3, except you start off with a lot of the skills you had to build up in that game. You also no longer have a skill tree: you are simply given certain skills as you level up. You have a shuriken now too, which adds a nice little link to your chained takedowns.
Your favorite weapons are all there, with delightful attachments that might make you crow for joy. The missions can seem punishingly hard at first, until you realize you should head out into the open world and complete some quests to mod out your favorite sniper rifle. Then you become *serious 80s voice* The Punisher.
I have very little to complain about, gameplay wise, but there is one complaint, and it is something that annoyed me in the first game as well. Some of the action buttons are a little finicky You have to hold certain buttons for certain actions, such as pilfering and buying things. Sometimes, that prompt just won’t appear. Or sometimes the command to run just won’t work. Or you’ll turn on your Cyber Eye instead of throwing a cyber heart. At least with the 360 controller, this is a game that will have you literally mashing buttons at times to get them to input correctly. It is a very minor problem, but I’m pretty annoyed that I’m still having it in the new game. After the fifth time you move over someone’s body trying to get the prompt to appear, you’ll see what I mean.
Another small negative is the prevalence of escort missions. There are quite a few of them. I just despise escort missions in every game I’ve ever played.
But, in general, it was very hard to find things to dislike in this game. Remember how you hate Jason for constantly saying “disgusting” after his fiftieth animal skinning? Well Rex also says disgusting…just in a completely different way. A way you will love him for. Were we talking about negatives? I can’t remember.
Have you ever played a game that parodied another game so hard it floated into the sky on a burst of rainbows and laser beams? This game is pure greatness.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon doesn’t waste your time explaining how to play the game. It cuts out all the fat, adds a ton of bullsh*t, and takes you on a nostalgia trip riding on solid gameplay and addictive action.
There are so many amazing moments that I want to share with you, but I won’t because I want you to have that jaw-dropping moment of “no they did not actually put this into the game” that I was able to experience.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is available for $14.99. Go get it.
In the words of Rex: “Sayonara Sushi!”