Are you the kind of person that laughs at one-liners in over-the-top action movies? Have you ever played Far Cry 3? Do you like the idea of cyborg-on-cyborg warfare? Does a drum machine and synthesizer excite you? Do your brush your teeth every night? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you’re going to love the standalone expansion to Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3. You also have fantastic dental hygiene.
Blood Dragon is designed to be stupid. The creative director, Dean Evans, has readily admitted that. From the get-go, Blood Dragon is so 80’s action B-film it makes Jean-Claude Van Damme jealous. It has the cheesy, borderline-sexist one-liners (“that’s what I call a head job” after a well-placed headshot), the deep bass drum and synth laced soundtrack (by Melbourne group “Power Glove”) and enough hapless gun-fodder to make another Terminator trilogy (don’t make another trilogy, please.) Blood Dragon does bear the prefix Far Cry 3 and it plays exactly the same. If you’ve set foot on Rook Island, you should know what to expect, at least from the gameplay side of things – guns handle the same, there are still animals roaming the now neon-painted open world and you still need to take outposts and complete sidequests to gain valuable weapon enhancements. For the most part, Blood Dragon is just Neon Far Cry 3 (with dragons).
And, boy, there really are dragons. I didn’t look at any of the trailers leading up to Blood Dragon’s release, and I thought that the title was just two words being put together that sounded cool. But no, there are dragons, and they form the basis of the story line. You are Sergeant Rex Power Colt (voiced by the legendary Michael Biehn), a Duke Nukem cross Terminator, who must ‘save the world’ from the evil Sloan. This guy is intent on destroying the world utilising these Blood Dragons, which just makes complete perfect sense.
Did I mention this game is set in 2007? It is. Seriously, I have to applaud the effort that went into really recreating that 80’s aesthetic and vibe. Everything about Blood Dragon just hits the mark, from the storyline to the well-placed easter eggs, it is literally a wormhole to a time when these sort of B-grade films dominated video shops in those horrific relics of the past we know as VHS.
But back to the eponymous Blood Dragons, which are introduced in the game’s first act. You first come across these guys after escaping from one of the early underground enemy bases and they are immediately imposing. There’s nothing quite as big or threatening in Far Cry 3 that I can recall and the first image of these guys within a rocky recess in the mountains gets the cyber-blood pumping. Your AI guide informs you that they can’t see very well.
It was at this point I heard Sam Neill whisper into my ear “Don’t move. It can’t see us if we don’t move.” You see, the eponymous Blood Dragons are, for all intents and purposes, just like the T-Rex from Jurassic Park. Except they can shoot lasers from their eyes. So if you thought that scene was scary, just know that Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and co. had it easy. The Dragons have neon markings on their skin which indicates whether their hostile – red is angry, yellow is cautionary, green is peaceful. Yep. The Blood Dragons are T-Rex traffic lights. Inciting the wrath of one of the dragons usually results in death, although you have the ability to throw “cyber hearts” – handily retrieved from the mounting number of dead cyborg enemies – which distract the beasts and lure them away.
As a downloadable title, what can you really expect in terms of length? I’ve seen claims of eight hours being thrown around and this is probably a slight over-estimation for most of the wily Far Cry 3 veterans, at least (and the game is squarely targeting this crowd). I found that the main quests could be finished rather quickly, guns blazing or not, and that the sidequests – searching for collectibles and animals – really didn’t take too much longer than a couple of hours (if you can even be bothered).
While the story is great overall from a nostalgic-for-action-films point of view, it definitely hasn’t got much legs. It’s usually as simple as get from point A to point B to point C and blow up a ton of stuff along the way. That said, the back half of the game is much stronger than the front half, and the last two missions in particular are just great fun. As Dean Evans said, it is stupid. Blood Dragon is a mindless shooter but god damn if it isn’t fun. It’s not worth getting hung up on the thin storyline or repetitiveness of the missions because the game remains fun throughout its relatively short life. It’s designed that way. You had one job, Blood Dragon, and you did it well.
I am not sure how I am supposed to fault a game like this though – it has cheesy dialogue for a reason, it has silly cutscenes, it has the weird cyberpunk sci-fi feel where things sometimes don’t make sense – it’s literally designed to be the antithesis of what is considered excellent. It’s like this game exists purely to demonstrate that games don’t have to have a message about racism or society or religion backed by some grandiose city in the sky, or that they don’t need to comment about rape or shooters. Blood Dragon exists purely to say, just go out and enjoy yourself, please. Don’t take things too seriously.
As I said earlier, Blood Dragon targets the Far Cry 3 crowd and sucks all the seriousness out of that shooter while adding a coat of neon paint. It doesn’t mess with the gameplay too much, because the gameplay was Far Cry 3’s strongest asset. Instead, it supplants the old storyline (that, let’s be honest, not many people “liked”) and replaces it with a ludicrous tale of cyborg soldiers and dragon’s blood. It’s the lovechild of Rocky, Universal Soldier, Rambo and Terminator rolled into one. It’s an 80’s kid’s dream.
- Reviewed On