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You’d be hard pressed to find someone that didn’t enjoy Far Cry 3. It’s totally understandable; the game was a non-stop thrill ride that could keep you entertained for the longest time. So when Ubisoft announced Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, it was perceived as a bit of a joke. It didn’t help that the game’s announcement came on April 1st either. But we soon found out that Blood Dragon was indeed very real. We also saw that it was a satirical retro take on Far Cry 3 and 80’s action flicks. It could’ve proven to be risky, but did it work out in the end? Read on and we’ll see.
You have to understand something from the get-go. Blood Dragon is something of a joke. That’s not to say it’s bad. It’s just the least obvious follow up to the intensely serious Far Cry 3. The blend of the mass hysteria that was 80s machismo and the neon glow that has been added to the easily playable Far Cry engine seems genius for the most part and works extremely well.
In a desolate future, the year 2007 (hilarity in itself) finds the planet being a hollow shell of itself due to the outbreak of nuclear war. An entirely new kind of super soldier known as the Cyber Commandos have been born. They are genetically altered bionic humans who are sent out to do the missions that no ordinary man can do. The Cyber Commando that you take control of is known as Sergeant Rex ‘Power’ Colt. He descends onto an island filled with cyber soldiers that are controlled by yet another cyborg. Rex Colt will have to do everything within his power to overcome great odds and come out alive.
Blood Dragon is constantly coming at you with reminders that it is an homage to every bad action film that you had seen in the 80s and early 90s. Every piece of dialogue in the game is penned to perfection. Every line coming with a barrage of dated clichés that will slap you in the face with a fist full of nostalgia. They even secured the extremely appropriate voice acting talents of Michael Biehn, who played Corporal Dwayne Hicks in Alien and Kyle Reese in The Terminator. Every line delivered by Biehn feels like an open apology for the bland and frankly upsetting nature of Aliens: Colonial Marines.
So we’ve set the retro tone that the game displays, let’s talk about how it handles. Precisely like Far Cry 3. Not a thing changed, each button is assigned exactly where it was with its predecessor. It feels just as smooth and easy to play as Far Cry 3 as well. Therefore, you know that this arcade game already has a head start on several others. It’s strange to say as it is essentially just a re-skin of Far Cry 3, but Blood Dragon just might be the most well-made game on the Xbox LIVE Arcade. Like Far Cry 3, there are many ways to ‘skin a cat’. You can take it stealthily, cutting alarms so that your foes cannot call reinforcements to stop you. Or you can charge in all guns blazing, taking names and kicking ass. You don’t take any damage from big drops due to your bionic legs, and you can completely breathe underwater now. But you will still need a hint of strategy to succeed in this game. Taking out alarms, marking enemies, and silently killing them is the best way to advance here.
We’ve come all this way and we’ve not even mentioned the Blood Dragons. They are huge mechanical beasts shoot lasers from their eyes and mercilessly hunt you down. You can use them to take out your enemies though, if you’re smart enough. You can lure them to certain areas by throwing cyber hearts that you pilfer from dead enemies in your desired direction. The AI on the dragons is pretty bad, and they look a bit more like mutated T-Rex’s than dragons. But it is fun watching them tear apart and dine on enemy infantry.
The game map isn’t as big as Far Cry 3. That’s almost a given, but it is still large enough for you to have plenty of endeavours all around. There are still towers to liberate around the island. Liberating these towers will unlock extra side missions for you to waste time on.
The sound in the game is top-notch. As I’ve already mentioned, the acting talents of Michael Biehn are ever present and pretty damn funny. The soundtrack itself is amazing, showing off plenty of guitar riffs, power ballads, synth, with a hint of hard rock and metal. The voice acting and the score and soundtrack almost transforms you into the realm of these cheesy action flicks. Hell, the phaser guns even fire with that much heard ‘pew-pew’ noise that we’ve all heard in sci-fi films.
The game will only take you around 5 hours if you power through the story missions. Although there is quite a lot to do on the side. There are strongholds and towers for you to liberate, as well as side missions to be done.
In short, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a hilarious game that is damn fun to play. It has succeeded where Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem Forever had failed. They were successful in recapturing an era and personifying it. It’s well worth playing this if you’ve never played Far Cry 3 and are just wondering what the gameplay is like. It’s a barrel of laughs and a it’ll open up a can of retro on your ass. Basically, if you like Far Cry 3 and you like to laugh, buy this game.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is currently available on the Xbox LIVE Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points.