Far Cry 3 provided gamers with a huge, open world to explore, where the side content was just as compelling as the main story. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon features the same open world feel, just in a smaller package, and with a crazier plot and characters. Those who played the original can appreciate the wild departure from the norm that is Blood Dragon, and those who are new to the game can still enjoy the wild ride.
Right from the beginning it’s hard not to like Blood Dragon. Set at the end of the 20th century amidst nuclear war, the game features Rex Powercolt, a cyber-soldier trying to stop the rogue Colonel Sloan from launching nuclear weapons. The setting is an island like the original Far Cry 3, only smaller and infested with Blood Dragons, huge creatures with a taste for cyber-soldiers.
Most of the mechanics from the original game are still here in some form or another, and stealth takedowns, looting and the XP and leveling systems return. In Blood Dragon, Rex automatically collects ammunition and items from dead bodies, but he can pillage the corpses, ripping out their hearts for distracting Blood Dragons. Kills and other actions earn cyber points, which factor into the game’s leveling system. Unlike in the previous game where skills could be chosen, the rewards for leveling up are pre-set. It’s a little bit disappointing, but something that can be forgiven considering the scope of the title.
There are only seven story missions, but like in Far Cry 3 there is a healthy amount of additional content. There are several enemy controlled garrisons to take over, which in turn unlock hostage rescue and animal hunting missions. The garrison liberations can be accomplished either by simply killing all the enemies inside, or more creative ways like disabling the shields and luring Blood Dragons in to do the dirty work for you. Hostage missions are stealth challenges, and animal hunting missions require the player to take down a specific creature with a specified weapon. My only complaint about the these extras, was that from the main map screen it wasn’t evident which garrisons had missions available.
The look of Blood Dragon is certainly unique. The island is dark, and both enemies and areas have a very futuristic, Tron style look to them. Cut scenes are done in a way that looks like they jumped right out of an Super Nintendo game. Rex himself carries the look as well, with a robotic arm that he uses to flip off enemies after taking them out. The island is as lush as Far Cry 3 but suffers from some of the same frame rate drops and vertical sync issues that were present in the original. It’s never anything terrible, but enough to be noticed.
The game’s writing is one of the big highlights. The tutorial sections are hilarious, as is the dialog between characters. Rex is constantly spouting insanely cheesy dialog, and it all works really well. In another game someone saying “He must have called shotgun” after dispatching an enemy with a double-barrel blast would induce eye rolling, but here it just adds to the charm. In addition, all of the game’s writing, from the animal descriptions to the text accompanying collectables, is really humorous, and one of the rare cases that I spent the time reading all of it.
Just like in Far Cry 3, it’s easy to get sidetracked in Blood Dragon and spend lots of time roaming and completing side objectives. Liberating garrisons is just as much fun as it was in the original, and the side quests are enjoyable as well. While they basically only come in two flavors, there is enough variance that things don’t get too repetitive. The animal hunting missions are especially distinct, with several references to movies scattered around.
For 1200 points, Blood Dragon offers a fair amount of game play. The main story took me a few hours to complete, and the side missions are worth an additional few hours, not counting the various collectables scattered around the island. The upgrades received from leveling up and completing side missions are good, and made me want to go back and finish them all. It’s more of what made Far Cry 3 so enjoyable, in a nice, self-contained package that’s worth checking out just to see how crazy it can be.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.