Welcome to the 80's.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon has many interesting things going for it. For one, it has everything you love (or hate) about 80’s pop culture rolled up into a videogame. Seriously, if you love the 80’s, you will love this game if for nothing else but the style and references.
However, the one thing Blood Dragon does that I appreciate the most is that it's a stand alone expansion that does not require the base Far Cry 3 to play. Ubisoft could have easily threw out a slew of new co-op maps or multiplayer packs for Far Cry 3 and called it a day. Fortunately for us, they decided to do this standalone game instead. It’s a big change compared to most big titles nowadays. You know, the ones that spew out DLC packs left and right for that tacked-on multiplayer mode instead of meaty DLC that matters (Tomb Raider, I’m looking at you) but I digress.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon takes place in the distant future. By that I mean 2007. Seriously. The Cold War is still raging on and whole cities have been destroyed due to nuclear warfare. You play as Rex "Power" Colt ,who is half human and half cyborg, and are sent to a remote island to investigate the allegations that an elite agent named Sloan has gone rogue. Upon discovering Sloan’s treachery, it's then up to Rex to put an end to him and his evil plans.
The plot here is very paper thin and contains almost every 80’s action movie cliche in the book. It is quite entertaining but don’t expect to be moved or blown away by it. Be prepared to roll your eyes a few times at the over-the-top nonsense that goes on. It’s hard to knock the game’s plot though as it achieves exactly what it set out to do. Paper thin plot or not, it captures that cheesy 80’s action movie feel and it’s great.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is filled with jokes dealing with the 80’s, the game industry and hell, even other Ubisoft games are not safe here. Many of these jokes are quite good but some can fall flat. There is also a heavy use of one-liners in Blood Dragon, most are clever but are repeated far too often. By game's end you will grow tired of hearing the same one-liners every time you kill an enemy.
If you have experience with Far Cry 3 then expect to feel right at home with the core gameplay of Blood Dragon. It’s really no different except this time around, you take no fall damage. This fixes a big complaint I had with Far Cry 3. It seemed every time you dropped more than a couple of feet, you would loose a decent chunk of health. Since Rex is part cyborg, you no longer take that damage from any height.
The structure of the game is pretty similar as well. There are around 6-7 main story missions to undertake but at anytime you can go and capture enemy garrisons, take on side missions, kill the wildlife or go hunting for collectibles None of these are as vast or fleshed out as the base game but there is enough here to keep you busy and having fun.
Blood Dragon does change a few things though to the core gameplay elements of Far Cry 3. For one, the leveling system has been completely streamlined. You still level up, but instead of assigning skill points you unlock new passive abilities once you reach a certain level range. I never really noticed a difference here as they could have just left out the leveling all together. But it is here and you still gain experience for everything you do. Another big change is the ability to lure and fight animals known as Blood Dragons. Think of it as Far Cry meets Jurassic Park. These huge dinosaur-like creatures can be killed just like any other animal or can be lured into enemy bases by throwing “cyber hearts” (which you collect from fallen enemies) to the location you desire. They will then go on rampages killing everything in sight including you if you're not careful. These guys are tough and take quite a few shots to take down. So be careful when taking them on. Just remember that they can be a vital asset for you along your journey.
One of the things that I found most enjoyable in Blood Dragon were the weapons. The have a futuristic feel to them and are a blast to use. All of them can have several attachments unlocked by completing side missions or gathering the games many various collectibles You will want to upgrade these bad boys as some of them turn into the most over-the-top weapons I have ever used. Example: A sniper rifle that fires explosive rounds, imagine having a RPG with pinpoint accuracy. Yeah, it’s fun. Some of these can tend to make the game a bit too easy. Nonetheless, Blood Dragon takes the cake as having the best weapons I've used in a game in a long time.
The most striking thing about Blood Dragon that you will notice right away is its looks. The game looks like an 80’s videogame based off an 80’s action movie. Everything from the cut-scenes with their classic 8-bit cinematic style to the loading screens will scream 80’s. Some people will get an overwhelming rush of nostalgia just from the opening moments. The game is also extremely vibrant. Again, going with that 80’s style, everything glows with that bright neon look. It kind of looks like this island is home to the worlds largest never-ending rave. I like the aesthetic here as they match the tone of the game perfectly. However, some may get a bit disoriented by the bombardment of bright colors flashing in your face. The sound quality also matches the tone perfectly. You will hear 80’s themed music and background noises at every turn. The sound you get when capturing an enemies base is extremely gratifying, for example. The voice acting is very cheesy but again, appropriate. Sure some of it is cringe worthy but wasn't that the case with every 80’s action movie?
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is an over-the-top homage to 80’s pop-culture in videogame form. Sure some of the jokes whiff harder than a 10 year old trying to hit a 100 mph fastball and some of the one-liners repeat far too often, but you will truly get a kick out of the sheer ridiculousness of this game. It’s a standalone game that takes the original idea and turns it on its head. I wish more game companies would do this sorta thing instead of bad DLC for tacked-on components. For the asking price, Blood Dragon should not be missed.
+ Great visuals
+ Plays on themes from the 80's
+ Some hilarious moments
+ Great weapons
+ Near perfect gameplay
- Some jokes fall flat or are carried a bit too far
- One-liners are repeated far too often
- Some of the humor may offend some
*This was reviewed with the PlayStation 3 version of the game bought by reviewer.*