If someone had told me that I would be reviewing a spin-off of Far Cry 3 roughly six months after its initial release, I would have told them they were crazy. Now, here I sit typing words into a document about possibly the craziest possible spin-off to an open-world, island exploration title in history. Remove the lush jungles and spoiled protagonist, then replace them with a clichéd 80s action hero, complete with cybernetic enhancements, and we have Blood Dragon. Ubisoft has really capitalized on the quality of the latest entry in the series, and this downloadable compliment continues the trend.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon features a narrative that feels lifted straight out of an 80s cinematic adventure. The main protagonist’s name is Rex Powercolt (yeah seriously), a cyber-soldier that delivers Mark IV style beat downs. He is the best at what he does, and he does it all for his country. This is the kind of dialogue and mentality that Blood Dragon delivers. The lines are cheesy, but in a way that suits the nature of the story. Nothing is serious here except the pure level of awesome delivered with each passing cut scene.
Speaking of cut scenes, every single one in Blood Dragon is delivered in glorious, sprite-based sections. In fact the whole game delivers a nostalgia-driven vibe down to the Ubisoft logo coming into focus using an ancient technology called tracking, much like a VHS tape. I feel weird saying those words considering a large chunk of our readers have never seen one of these plastic contraptions, but I knew exactly what they were going for when I saw the snow move up and down the screen.
The dialogue is equally cheesy and perfect, mostly in part to fan-favorite actor Michael Biehn’s stellar performance. At first I couldn’t tell if he was simply phoning it in, or really digging into that 80s action star delivery, but after the conversation about playing videogames linking to violence, I knew where things stood. The entire package is wrapped in a neat bow that will last around 6-7 hours depending on the player’s skill. It may be a small chunk of what the original game contained, but that is also at a fraction of the price.
That is not to say there isn’t plenty to do around the island. In addition to the seven story missions, there are also side quests to keep players occupied. Liberating garrisons and animal hunting missions have returned as well as wanted missions. There are also collectibles that fit the motif. There are VHS tapes and TV sets. Completing everything can probably last closer to ten hours if stretched out, but the journey is so enjoyable, it is hard to complain. It is also worth noting that the experience is genuinely humorous. The tutorial immediately stands out with a laundry list of screen text prompts filled with useless explanations. I also really loved the jab at purchasing the premium tutorial, now with less button prompts.
The upgrade system also returns, but not in the same fashion. Skinning animals is no longer necessary to upgrade equipment, and skill points are no longer required considering the skill tree is completely absent. Instead each level comes with a set of particular skills. Enemies can also be pilfered to obtain their cyber hearts. This is a new mechanic that allows players to lure Blood Dragons (hulking creatures that have no allegiance) into fighting your enemies for you. These beasts roam the world at random, and can be avoided by using stealth. Though taking one down is immensely satisfying, just not overly rewarding.
Weapons can still be upgraded at stations scattered throughout the game, and the loot collection has been streamlined into just money, which works much better than having to sell all the junk at a vendor. The weapons are lifted directly from Far Cry 3 with a cyber-twist. Laser rifles and a blue-glowing bow really fit the look and feel of the game. Truly though, once maxed out, the shotgun, with semi-automatic fire and a few extra barrels to it feels like an instant win button.
Visually Blood Dragon delivers a pseudo 80s style, complete with plenty of neon glow to it. The island is a dark place, only highlighted by the bright outlines of soldiers, and their blue blood. Running on PC the effects are gorgeous, and all the issues of the console ports are gone. I was able to max out the settings and enable vsync, and still had the game running at a blazing frame rate. For owners of a machine that can run it, this is the version to own. The music also lit up my nostalgia meter. It sounds ripped from the cutting room floor of the Terminator soundtrack. The thumping drum beats, mixed with ambient tones really solidified the classic action movie feel.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a treat on so many levels. When the base game it was built upon stands as one of the finest experiences of last year, then toss in an entirely new setting, it just amplifies the fun. Add the small sticker price and solid amount of content, and we definitely have a winner on our hands. Fans of Far Cry 3 should not miss this fantastic experience, and anyone who grew up watching films like Terminator, Aliens and Commando owe it to themselves to play this, as it was certainly crafted by people who understand the culture.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77I Deluxe
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel i7 3770K with Professional Origin PC Overclocking
- Memory: Corsair 8GB 1600 Mghz Vengeance
- Graphics Card: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670