Once in a while, a video game will toss a pop culture reference or two into its script for an easy joke. But what if the game itself is one big joke? What if it’s one giant reference to a very specific time period filled with so-bad-they’re-good one-liners and cheeseball visions of the future? That, my friends, is when you get games like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
In case the title wasn’t clear enough, this is a game that doesn’t take itself seriously. It has an aesthetic obsession with every great/awful 80s sci-fi and fantasy flick you’ve ever seen. Imagine a smart-assed version of The Terminator trapped in a neon nightmare (see: Tron and Hobo With a Shotgun) with a soundtrack that has bits of The Running Man, Predator, Big Trouble in Little China, and Escape from New York blended together…and you’ll have a great idea of what you’re getting into. If none of that sounds appealing, or you’re too young to understand the references, then you may not “get” what Blood Dragon is trying to do. However, for anyone who grew up watching those films (or if you just love a good synth-groove), it’s a gut-bustingly hilarious little trip down Nostalgia Lane.
[ad#longpost]If you played 2012’s Far Cry 3 (which serves as the framework for Blood Dragon), you’ll know exactly what to expect from a control standpoint. Ubisoft essentially tore the guts out of the original game and sutured it into this cybernetic, lasery, hologrammed thing, which is fine. The only issue I have is that most of the animals on the island are just re-skinned versions of their FC3 counterparts. Tigers are laser tigers. Panthers are…laser panthers. You get the idea, right? Except you don’t: because there’s one new type of beast to deal with, and those are the titular blood dragons. These day-glo monsters are scattered about the island, take a tremendous amount of damage, and can make a huge mess of things during a battle. Fortunately, you can use these mutant-lizards to your advantage by tossing cyber-hearts (torn still-beating from your cybernetic enemies’ chests) as attractants. Think of them like dragon-nip. If there’s a dragon nearby, quietly lob a heart into an enemy camp, and then watch in amusement as he crushes and laser-beams soldiers into blue goo. Just make sure you’ve formulated a plan to either fight or hide from him by the time the fight’s over; the dragons are bullet sponges, and don’t go down easily.
Like FC3, there’s scattered bits of extra content spread across the landscape, but they come in the form of old tube televisions and VHS movies, complete with fake titles and cheesy 80s-style plot synopses. If you’re a completionist and want to find every little goodie, it’ll take you at least another couple of hours on top of the four-hour long campaign. There’s no multiplayer to speak of–which I guess is sort of a shame, because Ubisoft could have really gone crazy with it. Imagine eight cyborg warriors “plugging in” to play a wireframe tank or helicopter battle game, or perhaps racing atop cybersharks around the island? Or duking it out in an arena with remotely-controlled blood dragons? C’mon, Ubisoft. I came up with those ideas in about ten seconds. Ah, well…maybe next time.
For a game that many believed was an April Fool’s joke when it was announced, Blood Dragon turned out amazingly solid. If you’re a child of the 80s, think that Kurt Russell is awesome, or have ever listened to anything by the band Kavinsky and thought, “awww yeah,” then download this with all haste. It’s a total steal at $15, you don’t even need the original Far Cry 3 to play it, and it is the antithesis to all of the super-serious military shooters cluttering the market these days. Do you really need any more reasons?
And now…see below for my ten-minute video review complete with actual gameplay and other shenanigans: