Around the beginning of April, Ubisoft released some teaser screenshots of a game that vaguely resembled Far Cry 3 called “Blood Dragon”. Considering the time of the images’ release, most fans thought it was an elaborate hoax or April Fool’s joke being played by the developer. In the coming weeks however, it was made all too clear that Blood Dragon was a real game, and it was arriving sooner than many people thought.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is not an add-on or expansion pack. It shares most of the gameplay features of the main game it is named after, but it is a stand-alone game that does not require Far Cry 3 to play. The gameplay aspects of the combat, open-world exploration, RPG elements, and questing system remain intact, but the similarities to Far Cry 3 end there. With all new characters, weapons, story, and setting, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is an entirely different animal.
Blood Dragon has you filling the augmented boots of Rex Power Colt, a Mark IV cyber-commando working for the US military in the past-future of the year 2007. For whatever reason, Canada was nuked and the rest of the world followed, leaving most life on the planet dead or mutated. What was still alive was modified (by science!) for various nefarious purposes, leaving the world inhabited by robotic crocodiles, mutant goats, and cyborg humans. Rex is sent to an unnamed island to investigate the presence of a rogue cyber-soldier outfit, before discovering that the one in charge is an old mentor. The story is cliche to the point of being hilarious, borrowing themes and cues from nearly every 70’s and 80’s sci-fi action movie you’ve already seen.
In fact, just about every aspect of the game is borrowed from some movie or another. Such as weapons inspired by Robocop and The Terminator, to characters that remind you of Rambo, graphics taken straight from Tron, and music that sounds like a mix of all of the above. The game doesn’t take itself seriously at all, with characters (especially Rex) spewing one-liners that would make Duke Nukem roll his eyes. It’s a good thing that the game doesn’t try to pretend to be serious, or it would probably spoil the experience. All of the cliche’d one-liners and settings come together perfectly to create a very rewarding and entertaining experience. I actually enjoyed the short 3-hour story in Blood Dragon more than the more serious revenge story told over 20 hours in Far Cry 3. Not that Far Cry 3, was bad, but if you’re comparing the entertainment value of the two stories, I think Blood Dragon comes out on top.
The gameplay is mostly just Far Cry 3 with a few tweaks. You’ll still be exploring a large, open-world island filled with enemies to shoot and stab, animals to hunt, hostages to rescue, and outposts to liberate. There are still RPG elements such as experience and leveling, but you won’t be earning skill points to place in your own skill tree this time. Leveling is automatic, and you start with most of your combat abilities already unlocked. Some might consider this a bit of a miss for the game, but it puts you right in the action so that you don’t have to worry about which upgrade is going to be the most useful down the line. Unless you’re talking about weapons, of course, of which there are many and their upgrades numerous. You will be jumping through some hoops if you plan on acquiring all of the upgrades and some grinding will be required to reach the highest level, but it’s still an enjoyable experience.
To upgrade all of your gear, you’ll be playing to Far Cry 3’s tune once again, hunting various animals such as robo-sharks and Blood Dragons. I didn’t mention Blood Dragons, didn’t I? The game is called Blood Dragon for a reason after all. Think of a giant, 10 foot tall, radioactive lizard, that is tough as nails and shoots lasers from its eyes. That’s right, I said lasers… from its eyes. Scary stuff. Ubisoft has been sure to provide you with the proper tools to deal with them, however. Such as cyber-hearts which can be looted from any human-type enemy you face, which can be used as bait to attract the previously mentioned Blood Dragons. Once you have completed various side-quests or killed certain animals, you’ll be able to purchase multiple upgrades for your equipment, making most of the weapons in your arsenal ridiculously overpowered. Stealth is still a large part of the game, but who needs to sneak around and hide in bushes when you can carry a minigun into battle T-800 style?
The sound design in the game is great. Even with the snarky dialogue, there are plenty of reasons to keep your sound system turned up. The music is an incredible mix of sci-fi techno and ambiance that would fit in nearly any future-themed game of movie, and the weapons all sound unique and are fun to shoot. The graphics are a mix of Far Cry 3 and Tron, so expect lots of lasers and glowing neon all over the place. There is a really ugly reddish colored scan-line filter over everything which is meant to make the game look as though you’re watching a scratchy VHS tape, which I could have done without… but it doesn’t make the experience worse.
At the end of the day, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon won’t be taking you back to the beautiful paradise islands of the main game, but if you want more sneaking, hunting, explosions, and don’t mind laughing your butt off at stupid jokes, you should probably pick this one up.
A killer ’80s Techno soundtrack, pew pew lasers, tons of explosions, and more one-liners than Duke Nukem could fit inside his head, the audio experience of Blood Dragon is superb, in a cheesy, good way.
It’s Far Cry 3 at its core, but with neon. Lots and lots of neon.
Being comprised of nearly every cliche from every 80s action movie ever, the story is nothing short of absurd. You’ve seen it before, but you haven’t really played it before, and that makes it fresh, if a little nonsensical.
Again, this is Far Cry 3. If you didn’t enjoy sneaking around in bushes, stabbing enemies in the back, and shooting them in the face before, you probably won’t this time either. But really, who doesn’t love all of those things?
The game is ridiculous but fun. It’s worth the price of admission and then some. There is a bit of grinding involved if you’re a completionist, but the content is diverse enough to keep you entertained for hours.