No one saw Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon coming. As a full-on digital-only game that’s completely separate from the core experience (and thus, doesn’t require Far Cry 3 to play), Blood Dragon takes the foundations of Far Cry, runs with it to the absolute maximum, then cranks it up to 11 and lights it on fire with a concentrated blacklight.
Complete with VHS tape style loading screens, a tutorial that makes fun of other tutorials, and classic sci-fi actor Michael Biehn, this is one wild ride that you — ::puts on shades:: — will never forget.
Rex Colt is the superstar of the show, and his part human part robot body will stop at nothing to kill the evil Colonel Sloane, complete his mission, and fulfill his duty as a real American. You’ll accomplish this through an open world mission structure not unlike Far Cry 3, complete with its own (smaller) island, enemies, theme, and narrative. Rex will trek across a dystopian future filled with titular Blood Dragons (giant lizards that are prone to rage fits), evil corporation soldiers, and pretty much everything else sci-fi related you can shake a stick at.
Getting around with Rex is super easy, and a ton of fun. Since he’s a cyborg, he suffers from zero fall damage, he sprints faster, and can breath indefinitely underwater thanks to his robotic lungs. There are vehicles to ride around in, but since Rex is so mobile I found myself just running around and swimming everywhere. Instead of choosing from a set of skill trees after earning sufficient XP to level up, perks are automatically applied — like more health and better aim — up to a maximum of level 30. It’s a bit less fun than choosing your fate like in Far Cry 3, but it still works, as it provides enough of an incentive to level up.
Visually, Blood Dragon is one of my favorite games in recent memory, with an endless supply of neon blue, green, and red hues to keep you interested in the action at hand. The game is unmistakeably unique, and is destined to turn some heads when played on a big screen at full volume at social gatherings. Within seconds, Dragon makes an imprint on you, and doesn’t let go.
Thematically, Blood Dragon goes full camp, complete with an endless supply of one-liners, cheesy plotlines, synthesized sounds, and even a sex scene straight out of even the worst of sci-fi films. But surprisingly, provided you’re old enough to remember what a VHS tape is, it all works. Despite the insanely contrived narrative and generally over-the-top characters, Blood Dragon manages to forge its own identity with the amalgamation of 80s and 90s nostalgia its comprised of, to the point where I was sufficiently “sold” on the concept of Blood Dragon as an entirely new IP.
To augment the wonderful visuals and univerise, the musical score clearly emulates a few action classics, most notably the Terminator series and Rocky — even providing full-on arrangements of those film’s most recognizable tunes. I don’t say this often, but the score itself is literally perfect, and served to draw me even further into the game and its world. The pumping bass, eclectic keyboard tunes — they all serve their purpose wonderfully, and really drive the theme full circle.
If you’re expecting a huge, sprawling series of islands with a 20 hour or more campaign, you’re going to be disappointed. I was able to complete the main campaign of Blood Dragon in a scant few hours, and achieve near 100% completion in under 10. Even still, replaying the game on multiple difficulties, leveling up, liberating all the bases, general exploration and collectible hunting will provide hours of entertainment. Just like Far Cry 3 proper, you can buy collectible location maps and view animal stomping grounds on your main map screen, which makes it very easy to be inspired to find everything.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon came out of nowhere and blew me away. As a child of the 80s and 90s, it was a wonderful blast through the past that I couldn’t stop playing. My only major complaint is the brevity of the package, but if you’re the kind of person who always goes for 100% completion, there’s more than enough game here for you to enjoy. If there was a full retail sequel that could somehow not over-exert its parody roots, I would buy it in a heartbeat.
This review is based off a digital copy of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon for the Xbox 360.