Inside Pulse 12

Review: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (Sony PlayStation 3)

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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: 05/01/2013

I know for a fact that something that appears at first as nothing but an April Fool’s Day joke can be awesome. Gamespot at one point posted an AFD joke about a Rock Band game for the PSP. Such a game was made, and it is awesome.

Looks like lightning has struck twice, because Blood Dragon is one of my favorite games of the year.

In the distant year of 2007, the world has been torn apart by nuclear missiles. This was one of the many complications that sprung up from Vietnam War 2. What’s left of civilization is in a fragile state, and a rogue soldier is looking to take advantage. Enter Rex “Power” Colt, a cyber soldier sent to a mysterious island in order to thwart the rogue’s plans. Rex is a foul mouthed patriotic son of a b**** with an arsenal of weapons and just enough badassery to get the job done.

The story is ridiculous in all of the best possible ways. Your female companion is named “Dr. Darling”, you have an incredibly foul mouthed black ninja companion, you have to punch a nuclear missile to disarm it, the enemy soldiers look like something out of Tron, there are giant freaking lizards that shoot lasers out of their eyes, and there’s a god damned training montage in the middle of the game. It is meant to represent 80’s action movies at their cheesiest, and it does a wonderfully fantastic job. It could have easily crossed the line from amusing to annoying, but it never does. I was laughing with the game, not at it. Even without the ridiculousness, there’s still some fairly well developed characters here. I actually cared about what happened to Rex, and I felt bad when another character died. That’s thanks tot he writing, which is sublime throughout.

blooddragon1This game looks like what the movie from thirty years ago thought the present would look like. There’s neon colors everywhere, the sky is burned red from nuclear fallout, computers are still hulking machines with large buttons. Some might find the look off-putting. For starters, it’s always night. While this makes the glowing enemies easy to spot, it also means much of the island is dark. There’s no wow factor in terms of seeing a beautiful vista from the top of a hill. The scan lines, added for effect, are definitely going to be hit or miss. I loved them, as they fit the retro theme, but some might get angered by the fact that such lines can negatively affect the look of the game. You’ll either love it or hate it.

Aurally, the game is a hit across the board. If you disagree, you are wrong. The music is pure eighties, and could have easily fit as part of the Terminator soundtrack. The keyboard finally gets its due. Speaking of Terminator, Rex is voiced by Micheal Biehn, the other star from that movie. As a star of a number of action movies, he fits the role like a glove, and goes all out with the cheesy dialogue and one-liners. It’s the balls to the wall performances of the whole cast that sell the entire game. They should all be commended. The effects are also great. Enemy soldiers sound like speak and spells, which is a nice touch. The guns all sound great, and I especially love the part where Rex screams when firing the mini-gun for an extended period. I can’t really call it subtle, but it’s a brilliant little detail that further enforces what this game is all about.

Blood Dragon follows the exact same format as Far Cry 3, except it’s more awesome. You start off on a tutorial level, learning the ropes and trying out some moves. Shortly thereafter, you’re free to tackle things however you want. You can capture garrisons to unlock fast travel points and side missions, you can hunt for collectibles, or you can tackle story missions to move the story forward. Level progression is automatic, but Rex gets significantly stronger as he goes. Levels also come quickly, at the rate of several per story mission if you do things right. Weapon upgrades are unlocked as you complete side missions and objectives, and then can be purchased for money. Crafting is gone though. You’ll just loot money, ammo, and cyberhearts. What are cyberhearts? I ‘ll get to those when I talk about blood dragons.

blooddragon2Blood dragons are dinosaur-sized lizards that roam the island freely. They love to eat people, and cyberhearts are their favorite appetizer. Cyberhearts are the hearts of enemy cyborgs. And the lizards love them. A key mechanic is throwing a heart so that the dragons go where you want them to. You could lead them into an enemy base, unless the shield is up. Even then, it turns out blood dragons also have laser blasts that shoot from their eyes. These blasts are not stopped by puny shields. In essence, blood dragons are like the tigers from FC3, only cooler. They also have neon colored stripes that change color depending on their mood. That’s just awesome.

Combat is pretty flexible, with stealth or straight up fighting being equally viable. When being stealthy, you can use the bow or the silenced pistol at range. Close up, you can throw a d20 (Yay!) to distract guards, and perform instant takedowns. You can also chain takedowns if enemies are close together. You get this ability from the start, so there’s no sadly staring at it on your skill tree until you can unlock it. If you’re just out for chaotic gunfights, the game is more than agreeable. The shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, flamethrower, and minigun are all going to fit the bill. The first three are the best, as they get some crazy upgrades. For example, a full upgrades shotgun has four barrels, is semi-automatic, and fires explosive rounds. Also, Rex loads the gun by flipping shells into it like they were pieces of popcorn going to his mouth. Not gameplay relevant perhaps, but damn cool.

blooddragon3Not everything has been improved. With a smaller island and a large number of fast travel points, there’s not much use for vehicles. The vehicles also didn’t get the cool 80’s upgrade one would hope for. There’s also zero point in having a hang glider, unless you manage to line up a cool looking takedown. You also swim faster than the boats drive, or at least it seems as such. The animals in the game are pretty useless, apart from having neon highlights. You don’t need their skin to craft gear or anything. There is a trophy for killing one of each. That’s about it. Still, these are minor complaints that don’t do much to dampen the game’s sheer awesomeness.

You can complete everything in the game, including the optional objectives, in around six hours. It’s not a long game by any means. Playing on a harder difficulty is an option,but I find that replaying the story is a joy simply because it means you get to experience the craziness all over again. For fifteen bucks, it’s not a bad deal at all, and is certainly more content than the usual DLC for AAA games tends to offer. I got more out of this than both of my Knife of Dunwall playthroughs combined.

Short Attention Span Summary

Blood Dragon is the kind of DLC that makes the whole DLC practice worthwhile. It takes the core mechanics and ideas from Far Cry 3 and goes all out with them. Add in a fantastically glorious homage to the best and corniest of the eighties, and you have one hell of a game. It’s fun, funny, and worth every cent. As a stand alone title, it deserves your purchase whether you’ve ever played a Far Cry game or not.

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