Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – Throwback 10

When is a DLC not a DLC? When it’s its own spin-off game perhaps. In 2012 Ubisoft released Far Cry 3, and received huge amounts of acclaim for the game that reinvigorated the series, and set the path for things to come. Less than a year later a new DLC was released for the game. Rather than adding new story, new locations, or new equipment to the base game, however, this DLC was its own entity entirely, essentially giving those who downloaded it a whole new game to play, built in the same game as Far Cry 3. Thus, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was born.

Having been inspired to create a DLC that does things a little differently to the main game with the success of the Assassin’s Creed 3 DLC, The Tyranny of King Washington, Ubisoft decided to create something very tonally different from the base game for Blood Dragon. The decision was made to create a game set in a sci-fi future as envisioned in cheesy 80’s action movies; and it used that inspiration heavily throughout.

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The game put players in control of the American cybernetic super soldier Rex ‘Power’ Colt (Michael Biehn) in the distant future setting of 2007! Rex, along with his fellow cyborg soldier TT ‘Spider’ Brown (Phil LaMarr) have been sent to a remote island to eliminate Colonel Sloan (Danny Blanco Hall), an elite agent who has gone rogue. Unfortunately, like all good action movies where two agents go in, Sloan kills Spider, and leaves Rex for dead. Trapped on the island, Rex has to slowly work his way through Sloan’s forces, and try to prevent a scheme that will result in the end of the world.

Blood Dragon is built from the ground up to make the player feel like they’re in a badly made, cheap 80s B-Movie, right down to items in the game looking like they were made of of junk found in the props room, cheesy one-liners, and the bad graphics in the cut scenes. From the opening moments of the game, where you’re treated to 16-bit style opening that depicts the end of the world, with an electronic score reminiscent of The Terminator it’s clear that the game is going for a very specific style, and that it’s going to lean into it. Heavily.

© 2013 Ubisoft.

Speaking of The Terminator, some may have already spotted a familiar name mentioned already, as the lead character is voiced by 80’s sci-fi action icon Michael Biehn. According some interviews with the creators of the game, early development was considering approaching more recognisable 80’s actors for the role, but ultimately went for Biehn thanks to his involvement in both The Terminator and Aliens, and because he could bring a weary, grizzled style to the character’s voice that fitted more with that they were wanting. Biehn sounds tired for a lot of the game, but not in a way where he’s just doing the bare minimum of voice work to cash a cheque. His character sounds done with the world. He doesn’t want to be on this mission, he’s growing weary of killing, and he absolutely hates that he has to go through the training basics at the start of the game and isn’t afraid to voice that disdain.

Rex’s bad one-liners aren’t the only thing that makes this feel like an old movie though, as the game takes the somewhat realistic violence of Far Cry 3 and throws it out of the window for over the top flair instead. As a cyborg Rex is able to move at super-human speeds, and he wields a variety of weapons that just wouldn’t exist in the real world. Quadruple barrel shotguns that fire flaming bullets, laser machine guns, and a minigun that will make you feel like Blain from Predator are all fun to use to mow down enemies, and cause massive destruction. The most over the top and enjoyable weapon in the game, however, is the Battle Armored Dragon Assault Strike System (the B.A.D.A.S.S.), one of the island’s massive laser shooting dragons that has been turned into a cybernetic, armoured creature of mass destruction.

© 2013 Ubisoft.

There are times when things do feel a bit forced, such as the same one-liners or bad jokes being used more than once. which leads to a bit of boredom through repetition; that and the fact that there are times the game is designed to feel intentionally bad. An hour and a half movie in this style doesn’t tend to overstay its welcome, but a multi-hour game might begin to here and there. That being said, it isn’t too long a game, and doesn’t try to pad things out with fetch quests or collectables, and sticks to the basics. A few of the systems from the main game have been removed to make it more streamlined and quicker too, such as a very simple skill tree compared to the more extensive one in the regular game.

Upon release Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon received favourable reviews from a lot of outlets, who praised the game for its new direction, score, and enjoyable sense of weirdness. It was praised for its clever writing, and walking the fine line between enjoyable and cheesy. Ultimately, most reviewers agreed that the game was pretty charming overall, and that it would definitely appeal to those who grew up watching old VHS copies of low budget action flicks. It was reported that the game sold more than 500,000 copies within two months, exceeding initial expectations, and that it would go on to sell over 1 million copies by the end of 2013. As a result, it also boosted the sale of the base game, and raised interest in Far Cry 3.

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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon almost feels like an experiment, a test to see if a second game can be made out of the assets that have already been created, and released for a lower price to existing fans. Whilst that does seem to be the case, and the DLC did extremely well, the level of success would also lead to this not happening again in the Far Cry franchise. Instead of being released as cheaper, shorter games via DLC, spin-offs such as Far Cry Primal, and Far Cry New Dawn would be treated like main games, and would be sold on disc, at full price.

For what it is, however, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a ridiculous and enjoyable experience. It’s the kind of game that rarely comes along anymore, and is often executed so poorly that it bypasses enjoyable and becomes awful (Duke Nukem Forever and High on Life being prime examples of this). Whilst it might not be for everyone, for those that grew up with over the top action movies, cheesy one liners, and ridiculous sci-fi stories this game will probably be quite enjoyable.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was released on 30th April 2013.

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