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Review: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

23 May 2013

The Last Action Hero

What happened to the action hero? That impossibly buff, remarkably handsome, and completely badass, hardcore, ain’t-afraid-of-nothing, ice-cold mamma jamma has been curiously absent since the 80s and 90s. The new-age action hero is more concerned about his feelings and the ramifications of his actions when he really should be blowing stuff up with reckless impunity. Where are the Schwarzeneggers or the Stallones? Their movies defined a whole generation of awesome one-liners and bad dudes. Where did all that awesome go?

Ask Ubisoft. They seem to have distilled the essence of 80s action cinema and awesomeness into pure brewed kick-ass. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is an uncensored, unapologetic love letter of 80s action nostalgia ready to shoot your nuts off with a quad-barrel shotgun. Explosive rounds not included.

The Apocalypse has had an Apocalypse

It is the future. The year: 2007. You are Rex “Power” Colt, the last of the Mark IV cyber-commandos. Your mission: save the world from a psychotic rogue cyborg that wants to end the the world… Again. You’ll utilize your standard arsenal of absolutely bonkers, off the wall weapons and gadgets. Delightfully destructive tools like throwing stars, sniper rifles that fire explosive rounds, laser machine guns, and the aforementioned greatest-weapon-in-a-game-ever quad-barrel shotgun round out your repertoire. There is even a bow. It’s futuristic because it is glowing and neon blue. That is the future.

This stand-alone expansion has you exploring an open-world island environment full of gaudy neon and dark, moody lighting. As Rex Colt (voiced by Terminator and Aliens star, Michael Biehn), you will run, shoot and explode your enemies with extreme prejudice. Colt will incur his wrath on several enemy types including enemy cyborgs, crazy mutant/cyborg wildlife, and the titular Blood Dragons themselves. Half-dinosaur, half-laser beam, all mega Cretaceous beast, the Blood Dragons give the game it’s ridiculous charm.

Looks like he called shotgun”

Let’s be real though, you are probably reading this and thinking: “This game sounds stupid.” I’m here to tell you that it is stupid. It’s beyond stupid, but it’s the genuine kind of stupid that games like Duke Nukem Forever could only dream of achieving. It’s the gleeful stupidity that is made with love. The same joyous stupidity that a kid feels when he melts his G.I. Joe figure with a magnifying glass.

Let me frame a scene for you: A pair of enemy patrol jeeps approach. Now in most games you would have to take cover and pick off the enemies methodically and carefully, a mix of precision and stealth. Rex Colt ain’t got time for that nonsense. No, you’re gonna whip out that explosive sniper rifle and blow up the first jeep, and while the second jeep unloads its troops you will sprint up to the first cyborg and make his insides become his outsides with your neon blue knife. Then, in the same motion, you finish off the last cyborg with a ninja star to the forehead. Then you give him the finger as he slumps to the ground in a pool of glowing neon blood.

The game lets you set up many awesome moments like that as most of the game play is unscripted attacks on fortified garrisons around the island. You can stealth your way in (lame), or bust down the doors screaming while your mini-gun fires thousands of laser-coated rounds in to the craniums of those foolish enough to stand in the way of your quest for freedom, duty, and justice (better). My personal favorite: Use the eviscerated hearts of your enemies to lure a Blood Dragon into the base and watch as he stomps, devours, and disintegrates the poor saps with his laser eyes (best).


Looks like I blew it…”

The game, as honest about its stupidity as it is, is not without flaws. The game starts with a tough, but fair difficulty curve. That changes as you level up and gain more health and attachments for your weapons. The difficulty peters out quickly however, as you’ll be blowing up baddies later on with minimal effort. Even on hard difficulty the game gets easy pretty fast. It’s not a huge thing though, as the game is a pretty hardcore power fantasy and fits the theme of the conquering bad ass.

The game isn’t especially long either. On hard difficulty I clocked a little less than 8 hours for 100 percent completion. The game is worth playing again for the ridiculous and cheesy one-liners, but the lack of a new game plus mode is a bit of a bummer. You will spend the game building up these awesome weapons that you won’t get much time to use. With only seven main story missions, the game can be beaten very quickly, but most of the fun is derived from the aforementioned open-world garrison attacks.

One could argue that the game is long enough to not wear out its welcome, and that’s a good point. The constant references and severely contrasted lighting can get repetitive, and hurt the eyes respectively. The real joy will be derived from your nostalgia and respect for classic action movies. If you don’t like those, then you won’t like this game. As I said, the game is stupid.


The Final Countdown

That all said, if you were a fan of Far Cry 3 and its well-polished gameplay engine, you will be delighted to find that engine intact, though Rex is a much more capable protagonist than the whiny Jason Brody from Far Cry 3. The awesome fire tech is still there as well as the beautiful vistas. Some of the vehicles return like the hang glider and jeeps, but you won’t really need them as Rex’s base run speed is super-fast.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a lovingly crafted homage to some of the greatest action movies and shows from the gaudiest decade in history. It really is the most honest game you’ll ever play and revels in its blatant stupidity. You’ll bust heads with reckless abandon while Rex Colt spouts the greatest/worst one-liners in history. Plus the game is only $15 USD. That’s a great reason to get it right there.

I say that the current gaming landscape needs more games like this. Games that don’t take themselves so seriously and just give in to the fact that they are stupid action movies. It’s the most refreshing shooter I’ve played in years, and while the gameplay is nothing new, the way it presents itself is nothing short of brilliant. Bring on the stupid.

~ Final Score: 8/10 ~

Review copy purchased by reviewer for PC.