Platform : PC
Release Date :May 2013
Price : £11.99 (Steam)
The success of FarCry 3 logically led to UbiSoft wanting to release more similar content, which is fine. And then almost out of nowhere they announced FarCry 3 - Blood Dragon which in many ways is exactly the same, but also completely different.
The premise of Blood Dragon is considerably less grounded than its predecessor. Stylistically, the game is very much in the same vein as many awful straight to video 1980s science fiction movies, lots of neon and crazy designs and cyborgs. Set in the (from the 80’s) far flung future of 2007, Blood Dragon sets you as an American cyborg soldier called Rex Power Colt, who is sent to a remote desert island to take down the villainous Colonel Sloan who is threatening the world with his cyborg army, Omega Force. Obviously this doesn’t go entirely to plan and you then have to work your way through his army and bases to reach him.
Structure wise, the game is very similar to FarCry 3. You still have an open world map, with outposts to capture and collectibles to find. Progress with both of these grants you experience (or ‘Cyber Points’) which level your character giving you health boosts and extra skills. The levelling system has been greatly simplified, instead of a talent tree this time each level just unlocks the next upgrade, which is fixed to the level. Unlocking outposts also gives you submissions that can be accessed from them, and these again are very similar, with assassination missions and unique animal hunting. The controls are also exactly the same as they were in FarCry 3.
Naturally, the game runs on the same engine, so its still a good looking game. There are still vast jungles and tons of space on the island, but instead of the lush greens of FarCry 3, everything is draped in a reddish/purpley hue. Neon lights are everywhere. On enemies, weapons, buildings, cars; even the wild animals are cyborgs with glowing elements. Everything even bleeds bright blue neon blood. It gets a bit much to be honest, and I did start to wish the tone would lighten up a bit in places, but at least the indoor areas of the game have a slightly more real palette to them. It still looks good, but I don’t think it is anywhere near as beautiful as FarCry 3 was.
The titular Blood Dragons are a hulking lizard monster which roam the landscape of the island. They fire laser beams from their eyes and also attack with their claws and can be devastating if not attacked carefully. Later in the game you’ll sometimes end up fighting several of them at once, which would be a difficult task if not for the arsenal you end up equipped with but your first fight with one is a bit more taxing, as you’ll not have access to most of the more powerful weapons you end up with.
There is a much smaller selection of weapons this time around, but more than enough to keep you interested. There is your usual pistol, machine gun, shotgun and so on, as well as a return of the flamethrower. My personal favourite was the gatling gun, which completely decimates enemies. The bow is also back, this time of course covered from top to bottom in neon. Most of the weapons can be upgraded in a number of ways, and as the game veers away from real world guns some crazy upgrades such as the shotgun having an upgrade to quad barrels for extra destruction.
To keep with the 80’s theme the game has a kind of scanline filter which looks like ‘high tech’ video used to often look in old films. Some of the collectibles are VHS tapes and chunky TVs, replacing the USB sticks and DVDs from FarCry 3. There are also tons of references to 80s movies and pop culture, popular quotes and so on. The game begins in a helicopter with ‘Long Tall Sally’ playing, the song playing at the beginning of the film Predator while the squad there are also flying in by helicopter. There are loads of other great references as well, but I won’t spoil them here as many are quite funny. A lot has been said online about the game’s tutorial, so no need to go into much detail on this here, but this too is very fun and the game pretty much begins mocking itself from the start.
The dialogue is all intentionally cheesy one liners and technobabble, and all delivered very deadpan. 80’s action star Michael Biehn provides the voice of Rex and growls his way through the script fantastically, and veteran voice actors Grey DeIsle and Phil LaMarr provide the voices of two of the main supporting characters. Musically the game is very reminiscent of the score to the original Terminator film, and is quite good but pretty understated for most of the game.
The cutscenes are also fantastic. Instead of rendered or in engine animation, they went for sprite animation, just like you’d have seen in games of the 80s. These are intentionally badly animated, and to a retro fan like me look superb and are of course accompanied by the cheesy script.
As it isn’t a full retail release, Blood Dragon isn’t as long as FarCry 3, but still provides a good 6-10 hours gameplay. It also drops the co-op and multiplayer modes from the main game and is a single player only.
It’s a good laugh though, and definitely worth a play. Anyone who enjoyed FarCry 3 will find more of the same here and likely still enjoy it, but it won’t change the opinion of anyone who wasn’t already a fan.
FarCry 3 Blood Dragon is out now on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and is currently available for free as part of AMD's Never Settle Forever Promotion