Ubisoft's Far Cry 3 was one of the best games of 2012, so when a pseudo-sequel was announced as a downloadable title, there was reason for excitement. Though the game has little to do with Far Cry 3 proper, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is just as enjoyable as its disc-based counterpart. With a tongue planted firmly in its cheek, Blood Dragon exudes machismo, action, and a sweet soundtrack that '80s fans will enjoy, and gamers will love.
The '80s were an amazing time to be an action movie fan. We had
actors heroes like Stallone and Schwarzengger lighting up the box office. The guns were big. The explosions were bigger. Everything was about being as manly as possible, saving the day, getting the girl, and having a few clever one-liners at the ready. That's the environment of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, the neon-dream first-person shooter Ubisoft is using to pay homage to a bygone era.
You take on the role of Rex Colt, a half-man, half-machine, all attitude soldier tasked with stopping the launch of more nuclear missiles in a post-apocalyptic jungle. From the moment you start the chopper attack fueled by Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" you know you're in for one hell of a good time. Like most '80s action flicks, story and characterization are secondary to the battles and too-clever-for-its-own-good dialogue. That's not a bad thing, mind you. It's actually rather endearing. Where The Expendables movie franchise failed in lampooning exploits of its aging heroes, Blood Dragon succeeds in finding the perfect middle-ground between intense shootouts and hysterical send-ups of the way things were.
Very little has changed from a gameplay standpoint from the standard Far Cry 3 adventure. You still get to carry up to four weapons, which can all be upgraded. There's a leveling system again, though this time the game automatically improves your stats and abilities, rather than you choosing from multiple skill trees. Taking down enemy outposts and completing side missions to earn better weaponry is also a major part of the game, and though it can get tiresome repeating similar tasks over and over again, the bonuses are worth the time investment. Wildlife returns with a nuclear twist, and the Blood Dragon title isn't just a clever name. There are actual dragons roaming the island you will have to fight. You can also trick them into attacking enemy soldiers, which is always a delight to watch, especially when the dragons activate their laser vision. Yep, dragons with laser vision are a thing.
Completing the package is the wonderful '80s arcade game presentation and soundtrack. There are no cutscenes. Every big story break is told in bit-style format like old arcade machines, with horribly dated animations to boot. Michael Biehn voices Rex, which is a treat for fans of his work in Aliens, Terminator, and Tombstone. It's all complemented by Powerglove's synth score, which is fabulous, and stands on its own quite nicely. That it's a part of Blood Dragon only makes the action that much more intense and enjoyable.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is about as stellar an homage as you get. That it's also a well-designed title that's fun to play only makes Ubisoft's efforts that much more impressive. Seriously, there are dragons that blow things up with laser vision. What more could you want from a game?
This review is based on a publisher provided copy of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon for the Xbox 360.