Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (Multi-Platform) Review
Posted by Stephen Randle on 05.07.2013
The first DLC expansion to one of the best games of 2012 is now available for download, but is it as good as the original, or just a quick cash grab? Stephen Randle has his review inside!
Title: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Publisher: UbiSoft Entertainment
Developer: UbiSoft Montreal Studios
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Available for PS3 via PSN, 360 via XBLA, and PC (PC Version used for review)
One of the surprising best games of 2012 has just released its first DLC add-on, and it’s actually an entire new game! Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, a standalone expansion that does not require you to own Far Cry 3 in order to play, has absolutely nothing to do with the crazy setting of the original, instead presenting an entirely new crazy setting guaranteed to change the way you look at the franchise.
It is the far distant future of 2007. The nuclear apocalypse has already happened, and civilization struggles to rebuild on the ashes of destruction. You are Rex Power Colt (yes, “Power” is in fact his middle name), a Mark IV cybersoldier tasked with infiltrating a strange island where your former commanding officer has gone rogue, and it’s your mission to take him down...for America!
Yes, apparently the apocalypse starts in Toronto. Don’t look so shocked.
Oh, wait, I forgot to mention. Blood Dragon has been created as a loving tribute to schlocky 80’s science fiction action movies, the type you might see on a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 re-run. Set in the future as envisioned by the past, no cliché is too obvious, no trope is forgotten, and nothing is too over the top, as you will fight, shoot, and snark your way on a testosterone-fueled rampage through an elaborate island full to the brim with neon lights, lasers, and a scenery-chewing supervillain.
Players familiar with the original Far Cry 3 will recognize the basic elements of that game that remain in play. The combat is mostly similar, with contemporary firearms replaced by laser guns that serve much the same purpose. As a government-outfitted cybersoldier, Rex comes loaded for bear, as you’ll have access to every weapon in the game from the start, from a simple pistol to a high-tech sniper rifle, and everything in between. Rather than forcing you to scavenge for guns to gain more firepower, you can upgrade your basic weapons by completing side quests, which then unlock modifications like advanced ammunition types or enhanced scopes at vending machines, where you can also easily refill your ammunition for a small fee. The concept of liberating outposts (here called “garrisons”) also returns, providing you with safe havens and fast travel spots on an otherwise dangerous island.
I’d argue that dragons shouldn’t glow fluorescent neon colours, but everything else in the game does, so…
And make no mistake, this island is even more dangerous than it was in Far Cry 3. Far from just a badass name, the titular Blood Dragons roam the island in force, attacking whatever they can see like living, breathing, laserblast-firing tanks. Make no mistake, these lizards are no joke, as they soak up bullets like a sponge, and they’re so destructive that an acceptable tactic for liberating a garrison is to point one in the right direction and wait until the screaming stops.
But they’re not the only fauna to be found on the island, as a vast array of wildlife, from cassowaries to wild boars to cyber-cougars (adding the term “cyber” to things always makes them cooler) to giant sharks can be found rampaging around the environs. Often, side quests will involve killing very specific creatures with very specific weapons, so if you’ve ever wanted to kill a shark with a charge of C400 (it’s like C4 with extra zeroes, I swear, that’s how they describe it), now’s your chance. Unfortunately, one thing that did not make the cut is the ability to skin your kills and turn them into handy upgrades, which was really one of the best parts of Far Cry 3. Also missing is the skill system, as levelling in Blood Dragon simply gives you a set new skill, often a health increase, but sometimes things like the ability to reload on the run, each time you gain a level.
Let’s see…”Quest: Kill 4 Turtles in the sewers”…Hey, wait a second…
Graphically, the game is a riot of obscenely bright colours mixed with ridiculous amounts of black, to create something out of a drug-induced 80’s nightmare that still maintains the high levels of quality found in Far Cry 3. The result is an island that pulses with some dark, fully energized life of its own, with bright explosions flaring in the distance, and robotic soldiers dressed in sleek armour covered with flashing neon lights, while strangely garish animals skitter through the untamed jungles. As if that weren’t enough, the game assaults your ears with a heavy, pounding, electronic soundtrack straight out of the action genre that spawned it, creating a high tension, high energy atmosphere every time the music swells. In addition, Rex is voiced by none other than 80’s movie star Michael Biehn (Terminator, The Abyss, Alien), in full gravelly-voiced, cynical, swaggering angry ass-kicking mode. Rex spouts one-liners and curse words as often as he fires his gun, and trust me, he fires his gun a whole hell of a lot.
If I had one complaint with Blood Dragon, it would be the opposite of one that I had with its predecessor. Far Cry 3, with its cheesy storyline, hammy (though incredibly menacing) villain, and over-the-top thrillseeking gameplay was brought down a notch or two by never truly acknowledging how ridiculously corny it was coming across, choosing instead to play the entire thing completely straight. Meanwhile, Blood Dragon, another tribute to excess, actually goes too far in the other direction, spending a little too much time winking at the player and repeatedly openly mocking the entire concept of the game. It’s one thing to make the occasional joke or nod that tells you “Yes, we know how insane this is, but at the same time, isn’t it fun?”, but Blood Dragon almost crosses the line from satire into downright insulting the very genre they’re paying tribute to, and some of it even seems to mock the player for bothering to play such a stupid game. Seriously, find some sort of middle ground, guys.
I warned you about the fluorescent neon colours, right?
- Amazing 80’s style soundtrack and breathtaking graphics
- Completely standalone, doesn’t require Far Cry 3 to play, for a very good price
- Captures the unique setting fairly well in an enjoyable experience
- Fairly short game, the story could be rushed through in a single sitting
- Very dark, which fits the motif but can make it hard to see
- Doesn’t play the cheesiness straight enough, humour is sometimes too self-aware
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a triumph of ridiculous creative energies, and plays just as fun as its incredible concept would imply. The combat and levelling system may not be as detailed or complex as Far Cry 3, but the main elements that made the original game a great experience are still here to be enjoyed, with an added heaping helping of cheesiness and over-the-top insanity that will appeal to anyone who claims to be a fan of the sci-fi action genre. The game itself may be fairly short, but every minute is a balls-to-the-wall, pulse-pounding thrill ride that will leave you begging for more. And since it’s available at a very affordable price and doesn’t require you to own Far Cry 3, it’s well worth your time and money to give it a shot…for America!