When Ubisoft initially announced Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, a standalone downloadable game set in a ‘futuristic’ 2007, with it’s own unique story completely separate to Far Cry 3 itself, there was equal parts confusion and intrigue. Many people had been expecting the publisher to announce a story DLC expansion in the more traditional sense. However, Ubisoft have never been shy to experiment when is comes to expansions and downloadable content, see the recent Tyranny of King Washington campaign for Assassin’s Creed 3 as a perfect example of this. Blood Dragon may use the mechanics of its parent game, but that is about where the connection ends, as the game is set in a new world, with anew story and new characters taking the lead.
You star as Rex ‘Power’ Colt, a cyborg with a propensity for violence and profanity in equal measure. In essence, when broken down, the story a fairly basic cliché revenge tale. Its brilliance, however, lies in the way it is delivered. The games riffs on virtually every 80’s movie in a way that is both uniquely humorous and nostalgic to anyone old enough to appreciate the time period this game harks back too. There are so many Easter eggs and references strewn throughout the game that anyone with even a passing interest in 80’s actions movies will struggle to restrain a cheeky, childlike smile.
The presentation is pretty much perfect throughout. From the blasting synth and 80’s rock soundtrack, to the neon soaked world. The graphics lack a bit of texture up close (remember this a downloadable game after all) but the stylisation of everything from the cyber animals you’ll face, to the goons wearing silver jumpsuits and the infamous Blood Dragons are all spot on. Rex’s animations are great as well when he equips and uses his various weaponry. As aforementioned, the soundtrack is ace and this marries very well the excellent sound acting. Rex is voiced by Michael Biehn, which is a genius move in and of itself, and the rest of the voice actors all perform excellently as well. The cutscenes are captured in retro style pixelated form. These can occasionally drag on a tad too long, but that is a barely a negative when they are so brilliant, its just sometimes the switch between balls to the wall action and a dragged out cutscene can feel a bit jarring. The menus can look fairly bland, but this is intentional and make the pause screen look like a late 80’s or early 90’s computer. The writing is frequently hilarious, however the game can occasionally fall foul of its own jokes, in one early scene the character jokes about how he does not want to do a tutorial and just wants to kill people, but then the games spends the next half an hour taking through a tutorial anyway.
As for the action itself, this is where Blood Dragon feels closest to its parent game. Far Cry 3. Many of the mechanics are lifted wholesale from the original such as the melee takedowns, the shooting mechanics and the stealth oriented feel of the action. The missions that Blood Dragon throws at you are fundamentally similar to those of Far Cry 3 as well, with missions tasking you overtake armed garrisons, missions where you have to kill wildlife using a specific weapon and so on. Chances are if you have done it in Far Cry 3 you will be doing it again here too, and that is one of Blood Dragons biggest issues. It just does not separate itself enough or do anything unique in terms of gameplay to go along with the very unique setting. The game will take you about five to six hours to complete the main campaign and well past the ten hour mark when you include all the side objectives, so its not small for a downloadable title, its just that everything you are doing has been done before, and better, with Far Cry 3. This isn’t to say that game is not fun, because it is. But the stealthy approach feels odd when Rex ‘Power’ Colt is supposed to be the ultimate badass. The game does a good job of giving you options as you tackle objectives, however, and slaughtering a mass of armed guards without them ever knowing you were there is as satisfying as it always has been. The upgrades to your character are doled out in a timely manner, meaning you always have something on the horizon to reach out for. Overall, the gameplay is great, and you will have a blast throughout, but it jest feels a bit too familiar to veterans of Far Cry 3.
Blood Dragon is a game that is outstandingly fun, and one that is a ‘Far Cry’ from the current crop of vanilla shooters on the market. Ultimately, however it is restrained by the technical limitations of a downloadable title and occasionally falls afoul of its own jokes. It you have bested Far Cry 3 already then by all means pick this game up and indulge yourself in more of the great gameplay and a uniquely humorous story. However seeing as Blood Dragon will set you back about £10 and the original Far Cry 3 can now be acquired for about £15, if you have never played either, I would strongly suggest spending the extra and plumping for the more polished, deeper experience that Far Cry 3 can offer.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is out now on the PSN store for £11.99 and Xbox Marketplace for 1200ms points. You can check out the launch trailer below.