Far Cry 3 put players in the shoes of ordinary man Jason Brody and threw him into a violent and insane campaign to save his family and friends held captive by the inhabitants of Rook Islands. The events that unfolded pushed his morality to the limit.
Its downloadable, standalone spinoff Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon brings players back to the wild, but with quite a few twists on the game’s mechanics and open-world setting to go along with a vastly different story, one where morality isn’t a part of the equation, but where there’s no shortage of insanity.
Blood Dragon is unlike any other Far Cry game, though it does embrace many of the same gameplay mechanics and sandbox style of play. As a shorter, downloadable single-player experience however, Blood Dragon skips much of the time-heavy progression requirements and augments the player character to be faster, stronger and capable right from the get-go.
Where Far Cry 3 was praised for its villainous Vaas character played by Michael Mando, for Blood Dragon, Ubisoft cast ’80s action movie star Michael Biehn (Terminator) to voice its protagonist, Sergeant Rex ‘Power’ Colt. It’s a very fitting choice and the profanity-laced one-liners and self-referential remarks, as absurd as they may be, work wonders for the game’s over-the-top premise and execution.
Rex Colt is a Mark IV Cyber Commando and the player gets the inherent benefits that come with being partially robotic. Colt can sprint faster than any human and never fatigues. He can breath underwater and is impervious to fall damage. There are still usable vehicles, but Rex’s legs make them obsolete.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon does maintain some of its predecessor’s RPG elements however, and there are 30 levels with pre-defined health bonuses and skill unlocks that can be earned as players level up. When it comes to weapons, gone is the need to skin animals to increase carrying capacity as Colt starts the game with all four weapon slots and both grenade types. A few additional weapons are unlocked throughout the game, including the classic bow and arrow and a large minigun, and their attachments are earned through completing side-missions and searching for special loot.
As for the core story, Colt – when not complaining about the game’s tutorial or how gross it is to rip the hearts out of cyborgs – is on a mission to save the post-apocalyptic world and his love interest in an alternate “future” (in the year 2007) from his old pal, Colonel Ike Sloan, and his Omega Force army. It doesn’t matter, because there are VHS tapes, lasers, and animals that glow. And yes, there are Godzilla lookalikes roaming the island, that not only pose a great threat in combat, but can be used for good and are essential to the game’s story.
Blood Dragon’s plot is rather simple really, but its bold execution and style is where the game makes its mark, especially in its roughly animated cut scenes. The main story missions of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon are exciting, memorable, funny and at times near the end, mind-blowing, but the rest of it qualifies as filler to buff up Colt’s arsenal and provide a few more hours of play time. It unapologetically doesn’t shy away from embracing the tropes of old school shooters to go along with its ’80s retro-futuristic themes.
Players can liberate garrisons, and then complete side-missions given by the terminals inside, some involving saving scientists, others involve hunting rare animals. Doing so will help the player earn unlocks and boost their abilities, but at anytime the main story missions can be pursued. Completionists will find a good 6-8 hours of gameplay that will feel familiar to the framework of Far Cry 3.
Where Far Cry 3 embraced a vast, beautiful tropical environment and a day and night cycle, Blood Dragon is smaller, dark and unchanging. The sky and landscapes are always dark, designed to contrast the bright neon-enhanced lighting effects of weapons, characters, structures and creatures. It’s neat and fun at first, but it does quickly become unappealing and slightly straining on the eyes. Some objects and enemies are hard to see and Ubisoft balances it by giving them an extra glow, but it does make some of the non-story encounters more of a chore to complete.
Despite these issues and a missing option to turn down the sometimes-overbearing music, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is an easy recommendation. It does not require Far Cry 3 to play but like its predecessor, it’s crafted with a focus on fun. There’s a key sequence in the game we won’t spoil that epitomizes awesome and we hope to see Sergeant Rex ‘Power’ Colt again in the future… or past future.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon will be available on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 from May 1, 2013. Game Rant reviewed the Xbox 360 version.
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