Game: FarCry3: Blood Dragon
Format: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Mhhmm… I simply LOVE the smell of good cheese. And this is what you get when you fire up Blood Dragon for the first time, gratuitous amounts of smelly cheese of all flavors. Did I say “all” flavors? Well, in reality is mostly 80s flavors, which might actually not be bad, but it’s sometimes a bit jarring. And again, as it’s usual with me, I’m ranting even before I’ve set the stage, still, it feels good to be back.
FarCry 3: Blood Dragon is a stand-alone pseudo-expansion pack to FarCry 3. What do I mean by all that gibberish? It basically means you can buy and play Blood Dragon without owning first FarCry 3, and while both games are obviously siblings, there is no relation whatsoever between the story of FarCry 3 and the one in Blood Dragon.
Blood Dragon put us in the boots of Rex Colt, a grizzled and gravel eating cyborg from the future (of 2007) sent on a mission to put down a renegade military unit before they restart World War 3. This setup should explain my mentions of cheese at the beginning, and if not the avalanche of winks from the game to the 80s will drive the point home. 8-bit style cutscenes, electronic music, a loading screen modeled after a VHS tape adjusting tracking… this game definitely knows where it’s heart is.
Unfortunately, it’s style is a bit inconsistent. Blood Dragon uses and amalgam of different trends and themes from the 80s, but piles them up together in a pastiche that parodies everything and nothing from the era at the same time. For example, our protagonist is an obvious cal lout to Arnie or VanDamme style buff military heroes, combined with both a Robocop and Terminator vibe. Our protagonist and NPCs curse and swear regularly, but at the same time, the bad guys seem to be modeled after Saturday morning cartoon villains like Cobra, obscuring and de-humanizing helmets included. In my case, the mood clicked with me almost immediately, and while the game didn’t have me laughing out loud at any time in particular, it did get many chuckles out of me and during my play through I could not shake the grin of my face.
The game itself is basically a mod for FarCry 3. After an introductory level, Rex is dropped in the island where the evil Omega Force has it’s base, and he must navigate the island in first person, fighting or sneaking past the hostile soldiers and fauna, liberating garrisons and, when you feel ready, progressing through the small amount of story missions. As you liberate garrisons, you unlock some side-missions, but these basically are always either freeing a hostage or eliminating something in a particular way.
The more enemies you eliminate and missions you complete, the more experience you accumulate, though leveling up always gives you the same skills and in the same order, unlike in the original FarCry 3. Rex is also more powerful than the protagonist in FarCry 3, right from the get go he’s immune to falling damage, can hold his breath indefinitely, and does not get winded as he runs. Rex also has some special take downs, he can eliminate several close by enemies in a row if he progresses through a quick time event and can even take down enemies at a distance with a well placed ninja start. Doing this chained take-downs is very engaging and never gets old.
All of the original fauna from FarCry 3 returns, though now it looks like odd and mutated. There is only 2 human factions in the game, the hostile Omega Force and the scientist that have reveled against them. The only real addition to the game is the titular Blood Dragons, huge lizards the size of small trucks with purple scales and neon lines. The dragons are tough, they take a lot of punishment, deal a lot of damage and can fire lasers out of their eyes, really! As with the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, they have horrible sight and guide themselves by smell, so you can use downed enemies hearts to direct them to other groups of enemies and watch as the dragons tear them apart.
Overall, FarCry 3: Blood Dragon is a fun and cheesy first person shooter that ticks the right boxes but does not deviate far from the original game. Frankly, if you have 11 quid laying around and you like 80s cheese, you will get your money’s worth with it.
The Good: The cheesy 80s vibe that permeates everything, solid controls and visuals, more FarCry 3 if you liked the original
The Bad: Adds little to nothing from FarCry 3, the contrast of dark colors and neon lights can get tiresome in the eyes after a while
Overall: 4 out of 5
FarCry: Blood Dragon was purchased from Steam and is also available to buy from the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Marketplace.