‘Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon’ Review
With all the glitz, glamour and neon sheen of a bad 80’s action flick, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon showcases an immense amount of love and appreciation for one of entertainment’s finest decades.
Announced on April 1st, it was pretty easy to believe Blood Dragon was a high-production joke. Completely unexpected and bearing absolutely no ties to the Far Cry brand, the April Fools hoax wasn’t nearly as surprising as learning that this game was real.
Released as a stand alone title for $15, is Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon a worthwhile spin-off, or is it bogged down with tired cliches and meme-quality jokes?
It takes the right kind of person to appreciate the subtlety and attention to detail present in Blood Dragon. Clearly developed with 80’s kids in mind, the game lampoons and parodies nearly every cliche and popular device of the neon era. Not content just slapping on a new coat of paint and making the same jokes we’ve already heard, Ubisoft Montreal went above and beyond to make Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon not only one of the best parodies of 1980’s entertainment, but one of it’s most accurate and passionate love-letters as well.
Blood Dragon takes place in the distant future of 2007, after a post-apocalyptic event the player takes control of Sergeant Rex Power Colt, a Cyber-Commando that looks like someone smashed a G.I. Joe into a Terminator action figure. With a stereotypical partner who’s all soul, and an ex-leader gone rogue, Rex Power Colt is flown in by helicopter to assault an Omega Force base. What follows is the same complete story arc we all remember from the decades most popular movies. Rex must go head to head against a former leader, who is a higher model cyborg than him, and prove that even though his humanity makes him weaker, it makes him stronger. I’ll steer clear of spoilers, but it is worth pointing out that if you are old enough or invested enough in the source material, you’re going to see everything coming, and that is not a bad thing at all. Blood Dragon lives off the player’s pre-existing understanding of what it is referencing. While the gameplay is top-notch, it’s hard to imagine someone getting the same satisfying experience if they aren’t understanding the humor. It’s the brilliant way that the developers have wrapped the humor up in every inch of the game that makes it such an excellent parody, as opposed to just making 80’s style jokes during cutscenes.
The hilarious narrative wouldn’t be complete with a jammin’ soundtrack. The in-game audio and main theme are all impeccably crafted with the nostalgia of yesteryear. Heavy synthesis and bass lines drive the action, with some really jazzy and uplifting themes throughout. Gunning down an enemy base via helicopter while blasting Little Richard‘s ‘Long Tall Sally‘ is one of the game’s most hilarious moments, and it happens during a gameplay segment, not a cutscene. Oh, and did I also mention that is the very first segment of the game? Talk about starting off with a bang. Mainframes will be hacked, cybernetic animals prowl the wilds, and every enemies’ secret base has their logo all over it. Defending a scientist against cyber soldiers attacking from boats and hang gliders really makes you feel like you are living a G.I. Joe episode.
That really is the genius behind this game, the way the humor is presented equally through the hilarious dialogue, and the over-the-top action figure moments we’ve always wanted to experience firsthand.
With a complete visual overhaul, nothing in Blood Dragon resembles the core Far Cry 3. With a purple base and tons of neon bloom, the entire island looks like it was dipped in a 1980’s night club, and then sprinkled over with the hilarious version of the year 2000 that every sci-fi movie featured. Everything is covered with a unique filter that gives the visuals that ‘used VHS-tape‘ look. Colors are washed out and scan lines cover the screen during big moments. Even the loading screen mimics the tracking feature of a vintage VCR.
When all is said and done, I was able to complete Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon in just under 5 hours, and that was with nearly every sidequest done. Taking a second run I was able to complete the game in just over two hours by sticking to the main quest line. Blood Dragon is a very short game if you want it to be, and I think in many ways it kind of excels because of this. For those of us who love playing video games but are too preoccupied with adult life to sit and finish every game we play, it presents a perfect opportunity. It’s hilarious, it’s fun, and it’s all wrapped up in a short arc. Able to be completed in a single long sitting or over a weekend. The ending is one of the best parts of the game, and the short length only makes it that much easier to ensure everyone experiences it. Like Portal before it, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon may not keep you for long, but it’s some of the most memorable hours you’ll spend playing a game this year.
Keeping in line with my last statement, Blood Dragon is short. Really short. This isn’t really a surprise, it’s a $15 dollar game and the developers have been fairly honest regarding the length. Regardless, just when the things start to gel and you’re getting really into the game, it’s over. You are rewarded with one of the most amazing gameplay segments for those final minutes, but it sucks that things get so great and then just end. You can pad out the experience by completing every side quest, but that will only add a few hours to your playtime.
And those few hours are nowhere near as brilliant or exciting as the main quest. Hunting cybernetic animals and finding collectibles does give you more to do, but the fetching is so mundane compared to the rest of the game. Sidequests, what few there are, all follow one of only a few formulas. Rescue a nerd or kill some dude. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, you’re going to be doing a lot of those two things. As a reward for completing sidequests, you will unlock fast travel points and weapon attachments. These attachments do make the weapons far more powerful and destructive, but the overall game is so short and the final segments take away your weapons anyway so there’s no real need to ‘buff up’ to prepare for the final segment. I’ll spare you the details to avoid spoilers, but even when you return to the open world after beating the game, your weapons will be obsolete. If you don’t upgrade each one before starting the final mission, there’s no reason to upgrade them at all.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has flaws. But those flaws are so minor and nit picky that they are barely worth mentioning. Having completed the game twice already, and still wanting to go back for more, I can safely say none of those gripes surfaced during my actual time with the game.
Ubisoft Montreal has created one of the most fully realized and perfectly represented love-letters to the 1980’s. With a perfect blend between visuals, audio, and writing, Blood Dragon is a brilliant parody and an awesome action game. It is well worth the low asking price, and can easily stand on it’s own without the Far Cry brand.
Now, like Portal before it, let’s see about getting this game a full size sequel.
This review was based upon the PlayStation 3 version of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which was supplied to us by Ubisoft.
Check back this weekend for our Blood Dragon episode of Saturday Morning Games!