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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review

“Enemies can knock you over. They’re dicks like that”. This is just one of the many helpful hints you will receive in the wickedly comedic world of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.

Blood Dragon reeks of the 1980s. Set at the turn of the century, or rather the 1980’s view of what the turn of the century would be like, Blood Dragon is a homage to 80’s action heroes, 80's movies, 80's videogames and 80's culture in general. It’s a raucous, macho romp through a neon world of cyborg super-soldiers, bio-engineered life forms and post-nuclear mayhem - with added testosterone.

Stepping into the shoes of the ridiculously named Sergeant Rex Power Colt, voiced superbly by Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens), it is immediately apparent that Blood Dragon is not a game that takes itself seriously, even if its main character does. Colt is the epitome of macho, kicking ass, taking names and spouting cheesy one-liners as he mows his way through hundreds of faceless cyber-soldiers. “I guess he didn’t have the heart for it” he says, in his gravelly monotone, as he casually tears the heart from the chest of a fallen foe.

As a Mark IV cyber-commando, former Omega Force specialist, and veteran of Vietnam II; Colt is an unstoppable machine. While the basic gameplay mechanics of Far Cry 3 remain in place, Colt can run faster, jump higher, hit harder, and take more damage than the pathetic meatsack, Jason Brody, ever could. Colt also starts ready-equipped with many of the advanced skills that Mr Brody spent an entire game learning, and will pick up even more abilities throughout his mission.

The world of Blood Dragon is a sea of red. Red skies. Red pillars of light shining from enemy encampments. The titular Blood Dragons, all glowy-red and angry. There is some green in there too. Green is good. Green pillars for liberated outposts, and green for Blood Dragons that aren’t currently concerned with eating your face off, or vaporising you with their high powered laser eyes. It’s both colourful and bleak at the same time, the intense duality of the two colours standing out against the dark, dismal (and slightly red) world around you. It’s a vision that likes to remind you that you are in the future.

Except of course you aren’t really in the future. You're in an 80's view of the future. Which is in our past. So you’re in a past view of the past, which is their future. Something like that anyway, yes?

The plot of Blood Dragon revolves in significant part around the large, dinosaur-like creatures which give the game its name. Rogue Omega Force boss and all-around batshit crazy bad guy, Colonel Ike Sloan, has discovered that the blood of these creatures has the power to boost the effectiveness of his cybernetic components. Having developed something of an addiction to the stuff, the souped-up Col. Sloan is now determined to exploit the effects the blood has on both cyborgs and ‘norms’, shatter the fragile peace between the world’s superpowers and finish the job the last war started.

Fortunately, Colt isn’t alone in his quest to put a stop to the dastardly Colonel’s plans. Colt starts his mission alongside cyber-pal TT ‘Spider’ Brown, and soon finds himself another ally in the form of Dr. Elizabeth Veronica Darling, a weapons engineer in Col. Sloans employ, who his having some reservations about her boss’ genocidal plans.

All very silly stuff, plucked straight from the worst (therefore the best) 80s action/sci-fi nonsense. It’s enjoyable enough in its cheesiness, but sets the scene perfectly for some mass violence.

Despite its far-out setting, much of the gameplay found in Blood Dragon will be immediately familiar to anyone who played Far Cry 3 before it. You have an open map from the start, although it is significantly smaller than that of its predecessor - this is a low price standalone expansion after all. There are enemy outposts to be captured, side missions to undertake, collectables to be found and even animals to be killed. Cyber-animals of course. “Release the cyber-sharks!” has to be one of the best lines in a game ever!

The Blood Dragons play into this, appearing scattered throughout the world. They are formidable opponents who can both absorb and dish out massive amounts of damage and cause problems for even the most well equipped and skilled player. Fortunately, they have poor eyesight so can be avoided by sneaking, or even lured into enemy outposts to wreak havoc on the opposition without you having to fire a single shot.

Truthfully, this mechanic is a little less exciting that it sounds. In practice, this method of base clearance is a little more formulaic than it sounds. Sneak into any base, press the ‘shields’ button that nearly every outpost has, Dragon appears and kills everyone, then you lure the Dragon from the base by throwing an enemy ‘cyber-heart’ (plucked from a dead dude’s chest) through the front gate and the shield comes back on automatically. Rinse and repeat for every outpost if you desire. It’s repetitive and not as dynamic a tactic as one might hope for, but its still fun to watch an angry Blood Dragon tear through a base’s garrison, even after you’ve already seen it a few times.

Of course, this is not the only way to capture an enemy outpost. Like Far Cry 3, in order to capture a base all that is required is for all the enemies in the area to be eliminated, which can also be achieved by stealth or direct out-and-out violence. Capturing bases unlocks side missions, which take the form of hostage rescue missions, pretty self explanatory, or hunting missions, which involve taking down either animals or elite enemy soldiers.

Completing these side missions, along with hunting down collectables and bagging different animal types unlocks upgrades for Colt’s equipment, as well as awarding XP, which increases your character level and awards additional skills. Even the collectables are 80’s themed - featuring VHS tapes and CRT TVs (that’s what we had before DVD/Blu-Ray and flat-screens, kids). As Rex Power Colt himself puts it: “So I collect shit, to unlock shit, then I get shit? Got it”.

Outside the open world playground, the main story ticks along progressively and can be tackled at your own pace. The main missions themselves are more combat-heavy than those of Far Cry 3, although Colt’s greater power and combat prowess makes these situations more survivable than if they were attempted by Jason Brody. It is possible to stealth many of the sections, but a high concentration of enemies, alongside a significant proportion of heavily armoured foes (who can’t be one-shotted), mean that the chances of getting spotted are high and most missions will eventually end up in a full blown firefight.

The emphasis on open combat is understandable, given the 80's action theme running through the game, but even Colt’s impressive abilities aren’t enough to withstand the occasional frustrating difficulty spike - often caused by the many heavily armoured bullet sponges, who can take a frustrating amount of fire and pack some pretty damaging weaponry themselves.

Deviating from the main campaign and into some of the sandbox fun is recommended. Not only will this power-up your weapons with such upgrades as laser ammunition and extended magazines, but it will also prolong the Blood Dragon experience. The main mission itself is rather short, as expected from a smaller scale download title, and can be plowed through in only a few hours by the dedicated. However, by doing so you would be cheating yourself out of the full experience; those outposts and side missions are there for a reason and this is a title that begs to be explored to its fullest.

Worth a mention is that Blood Dragon, unlike Far Cry 3, does not feature multiplayer or co-operative modes. Not that this is a bad thing; plenty of excellent single player games are let down by unnecessary multiplayer modes and Blood Dragon is, undoubtedly, a great single-player experience. Still, given that these modes exist in its bigger brother, the lack of them here is worth a mention.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon succeeds in creating a fantastic homage to the games, movies and culture of yesteryear, all wrapped up in the package of an excellent and enjoyable game. Although suffering from some frustratingly difficult moments throughout the main campaign, the vast majority of time you spend in this slice of stylish 80's nostalgia will be well enjoyed.

8.50/10 8½

Far Cry 3 - Blood Dragon (Reviewed on Xbox 360)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon succeeds in creating a fantastic homage to the games, movies and culture of yesteryear, all wrapped up in the package of an excellent and enjoyable game. Although suffering from some frustratingly difficult moments throughout the main campaign, the vast majority of time you spend in this slice of stylish 80's nostalgia will be well enjoyed.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Ross D. Brown

Ross D. Brown

Writer

Ross has been with GameGrin since February 2012 and acted as Site Editor until late 2014. He is also a proud Northerner.

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