Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is the equivalent to what games would be in the 80’s if they had modern technology. This is a very weird direction to take the Far Cry series but has quickly become one of my favorite and memorable games of the year so far. Billed as a game that plays on the “80’s VHS future” Blood Dragon features some of the craziest and most hilarious references I have ever seen in a video game today, and with all of that wrapped up in the already amazing gameplay of Far Cry 3, it all just makes it a package worth owning.
This game is a standalone downloadable title that has no reference to any of the earlier games, and may have been one of the worst kept secrets in the video game industy. Blood Dragon, from the very beginning of the game is already complete lunacy with a very obvious reference to the opening of Predator. Michael Biehn plays Rex Colt who spits out more one liners than every 80’s action movie combined. Every film cliché from that era is all wrapped up in this one game making the story automatically better than Far Cry 3’s plot as it takes the narrative to some ridiculous places. In the world of Blood Dragon, there was nuclear war and now soldiers are part cyborgs. You wind up in a fight against your former commander who killed your partner and now you have to stop him from destroying the world! Pretty standard stuff but then the game throws in every twist and turn you can imagine and you will most likely find yourself rolling around on the ground laughing from all of the cleverly executed puns and clichés. I mean the game lets you give guys the finger with just the press of a button!
The structure of the game is pretty identical with Far Cry 3. You are placed on a giant set of islands with story missions, side quests, hunting, and outposts to take care of. However a lot of the game focuses on the titular Blood Dragons that roam the island, green glowing dragons that will turn red and attack by shooting lasers out of their mouths if they find you. Luckily, you can rip out the cyber hearts of dead soldiers and throw them to distract the dragons. These things are indiscriminate and will attack enemies and allies as well so they can be just as useful as they are dangerous. Taking over outposts is a huge focus here and are a million times better than the outposts in Far Cry 3 because now they are all fairly large bases covered in energy shields. Capturing bases is one of the best parts of the game as they are so much bigger and more challenging than the ones featured in the main game. There's also the cool effect of the outposts shooting up red beams of light in the air and that turn green when you take them over. In regards to the map, I should just point out that for a downloadable game it is still huge! While it is definitely smaller than the main game, the island in Blood Dragon is at least half of the size of the island in Far Cry 3 and that’s impressive for a game that’s only a gigabyte and a half download, not to mention including all of the mission and world content that’s packed in.
The side missions are all pretty standard. There are some hostage rescue and "kill the special animal" missions just like in Far Cry 3 but there was one side mission in particular that was probably the best reference and funniest part of the game. As much as I’d love to tell you about it, I can’t because you'll just have to experience it. The side missions unlock upgrades for your guns. The downside is there are not that many weapons in the game but the ones they give you are perfect and I never once found myself wishing for anything else. They give you a bow that glows so you can’t ask for much more than that. The combat is just as fun as Far Cry 3 and it’s still just satisfying as all hell to throw a grenade under a jeep full of soldiers and watch it blow up as you’re gunning down remnants, except this time what you’re firing are laser guns. There are quite a few collectibles in the game as well and they are all pretty tied to the 80's as well. You'll walk around the island collecting TV sets and VHS tapes but what I thought was a great touch was when you pick up a tape it does say "Collect" it says "rent VHS."
The world in Blood Dragon is just crazy to look at. The island seems like it’s in perpetual night but there are bright neon lights all over the place as if TRON mixed with the apocalypse. Everything about the look of this game is just stunning, from all of the crazy colors you’ll see in gunfights in the futuristic looking buildings to the insane nano-animals running around the island trying to kill you. This game has a strong cyberpunk vibe which I enjoyed immensely. The one downside is that the cutscenes are just still images with very little animation, meant to appear like a VHS tape, but what’s disappointing is they aren’t even in full screen. It’s letterboxed at only the top half of the screen. I understand what they were going for but it just looks awkward. The voice that accompanies however is just pure gold. Everyone in this game is just hamming it up and sounding as cheesy as possible as they riff on 80’s cliché dialogue. Duke Nukem held the market for bad movie rip offs, but Blood Dragon perfected it and kept it fresh. Not only are they riffing on old movies but also old video games as there are some direct references to games that aren’t even shooters like Mortal Kombat.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon was probably more fun to play than Far Cry 3 proper which is a little disappointing for Far Cry 3. The game has only a little holding it back with some cheap cutscenes and short story length but it makes up for it by giving you all of the same things that Far Cry 3 did in an equal and sometimes better package. The references may be lost on some but there are so many throughout the game that everyone should be able to pick something out with no problem, but what’s more important is that the game is just incredibly fun! You don’t need any knowledge of the Far Cry series to jump into Blood Dragon and honestly aside from the title you would never know they were connected. Rarely do I laugh my way through an entire game but even in the intense action scenes Blood Dragon is still throwing humor out every which way. This is a game I cannot recommend enough, especially for fans of 80’s action movies or anyone who just loves great games.