Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon has arrived and it brings with it a healthy dose of 80s reverence. From the moment you start the campaign you will immediately notice the over the top 80s nostalgia in the dialogue, cinematics, soundtrack and more. The game opens up with you in a helicopter raining down as much destruction as you can to the tune of Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” as you light up the environment around you. After that the references continue with the “Welcome to the Party Pal” achievement and much more. The dialogue is delightfully cheesy here, however, it does wear thin by the time you finish up the game. After you hear a joke or a reference for the tenth time it does tend to get old and it would have been nice if there was a bit more variety. With that said though the game overall is a tremendous amount of fun. It should also be noted that you do not need Far Cry 3 to play this game. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a standalone XBLA game and can be played having never touched Far Cry 3.
After you get through the first part of the game everything begins to open up. You are dropped in an open world that is teeming with danger and it is your job to navigate through it while staying alive and taking down the man who is to blame for everything. As you go through the open world you will notice that there are quite a few things to do. First off there are animals around all over the place and you want to be careful you don’t attract any unwanted attention. The most dangerous animal is definitely the Blood Dragon that can, and will, shoot lasers from their eyes in an effort to eliminate their target. When you take out a cyber-soldier you can pilfer their body and gain a cyber-heart. Blood Dragons have pretty miserable vision but they love cyberhearts and you can use this to your advantage. I had a lot of fun throwing a cyberheart inside a group of enemies or a garrison that I wanted to liberate and then stand back and watch as Blood Dragons approached to eliminate my enemy, Omega Force. There are fifteen garrisons to liberate within the world of Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon and there are many ways this can be accomplished. You can let the environment do some of the work for you as I described above or go in to the garrison yourself and take them out, Rambo style. You can also turn off the shield that is protecting the garrison and watch as animals come in and try to attack your enemy. It is a lot of fun experimenting to see what you can and can’t do and adapting to the different things going on around you.
In addition to liberating garrisons there are a bunch of collectibles to find in Blood Dragon and, as you progress they become easier to find. They become easier to find due to the fact that you eventually gain the ability to purchase a map for different sections of the game where they highlight the location of all of the collectibles. That same store (represented by a vending machine) offers you the ability to customize your weapon, purchase more ammo, buy body armor and get more medicine. There are other machines within the garrison that will give you side quests to complete such as rescuing a scientist that has been taken hostage or going on a hunting expedition. Of course there is the main story as well where you will get to do some pretty fun things such as take out a dam and a reactor.
Even though Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a standalone game there are still references to Far Cry 3 from time to time such as when you are given the definition of insanity. As you progress in the game you have different skills that you learn albeit in a linear fashion. You will, for example, unlock an additional health slot by getting to level two, improve stability with the bow when lining up a shot when you reach level five, reduce damage taken from fire by 50% when you reach level 30 and a bunch of things in between. There is a world map that you can bring up at any time by hitting the back button and you are able to fast travel to any garrison locations that you have liberated which is in itself enough of a reason to go through those side quests. The world map also does this really nice thing of telling you what animals are on what part of the world. There will be times when you might want to hunt a specific animal and the map greatly helps out in that regard.
I have mentioned the dialogue already but Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon also has a pretty amazing sound track. The Little Richard song you hear at the onset of your campaign is only the beginning and it only gets better from there. The nostalgia that hit me as I was listening to it was unbelievable and put a huge grin on my face. I wonder though for those gamers who either weren’t alive in the 80s or were too young to remember if they will get a lot of the references. Sure there are some well-known hits from famous movies like Die Hard but I wonder if a lot of the nostalgia and reverence is going to fall flat for some gamers.
In Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon the character you portray is Rex Power Colt and he basically doesn’t have any limits. You can hold down the analog stick to run and he doesn’t get tired, you can fall from a high location and he doesn’t take damage and he doesn’t need any air to breathe under water. He is an over-the-top badass that is a tremendous amount of fun to play and that kind of summarizes Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon as a whole. The game is completely absurd and ridiculous but in the best way possible. As someone who grew up in the 80s I appreciated all of the references and jokes, even if they got old after a while. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a game where the development team simply set out to make something fun and not take themselves seriously. When meeting with them at preview events they would talk about making a “stupid” game and how there were some people who took games far too seriously. The approach for Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a bit of a rare thing these days and it can be refreshing to see when it does happen. That isn’t to say I want every game to be like this because then it would lose its luster. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a heck of a good time and if you enjoy absurd, over-the-top shooters then you should definitely give this one a try.
+ They really nail the over-the-top 80s nostalgia
+ A really fun alternate experience in the Far Cry 3 universe
– I would have enjoyed a bit more variety in the dialogue.
Summary: Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a heck of a good time and if you enjoy absurd, over-the-top shooters then you should definitely give this one a try.
Review Score: 8/10
Originally posted on May 1, 2013 on Totally Gaming Network