Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon - Review

A DLC with a premise and trailer that were so mindnumbingly over-the-top and stupid that everybody believed that this was actually an April Fool's Day joke. There was just no way that Ubisoft would really develop something like this.
Well, guess what? Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is real...it's an actual game that you can play! Wrap your head around that!
Does this DLC from another dimension do Far Cry 3 justice? Or is it really just a bad joke?


The plot:
2007: It's the future. The apocalypse has had an apocalypse. A rogue cyber army is reshaping the world into cyber hell. And only one thing can stop them: Sergeant Rex Power Colt, who is a cyber commando. Part human, part machine.
On an island full of deadly cyber animals and laser-shooting dinosaur dragons, Rex battles the cyber army and their evil leader to save mankind from yet another apocalypse.

As you can see, Blood Dragon's plot is completely intended nonsense, that has absolutely nothing to do with Far Cry 3's story.
Blood Dragon is a game that pays big tribute to 80s VHS sci-fi B-movies. Filled with over-the-top one liners, over-stylized future visions and tech and a cheesy one-liner-spitting macho protagonist.
The story is expectedly VERY clichee as well and pure 80s trash, just as promised.
The developers of Ubisoft themselves only said this about the story: "It's an 80s VHS vision of the future, where you must get the girl, kill the baddies, and save the world.".
And that's pretty much it. Even the bad guy's big plan to rule the earth with the help of laser-shooting dinosaur-like dragons with armor won't make anybody care the least.
The strength of Blood Dragon does not lie in WHAT the story is but HOW it is told.

Blood Dragon's story itself is of course clichee and therefore uninvolving, yet the unique and tribute-paying humor is constantly present throughout the entire experience.
The humor not only mocks video gaming itself, but also 80s movies and all other sorts of related B-movie trash.
Dialogue is ridiculously stupid and parody material that is just fun to listen to and made me chuckle a whole lot. Blood Dragon nails this kind of comedy that Duke Nukem pathetically tried to deliver.
Furthermore, with the help of 16-bit style cutscenes during some of the missions, the game adds another great old-school gimmick to its storytelling.

This intended trashy presentation is the heart of Blood Dragon and makes having a nostalgic soft spot for this kind of style absolutely necessary for the player's enjoyment of the game. 


As a DLC for Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon of course uses the same engine and gameplay mechanics as the original Far Cry 3. Yet still, Blood Dragon does not look or feel like it has ANYTHING to do with that game.

Blood Dragon replaces Far Cry 3's open-world oriented gameplay mostly with a very linear "story-driven" game design. Primarily, one mission directly follows the next one and leaves only little room for player-choices.
However, while most of the main missions are designed like corridor shooters, some missions that take place in larger areas or bases mainly follow the same style of "enemy-base-infiltration-missions" as in Far Cry 3. Once again, the player can stealth kill his way through the enemy base to avoid triggering the alarm or flatout go in guns-blazing to kill all of the hostiles.

With that said, one of the few new tweaks in Blood Dragon is that the game encourages you to use the dinosaur-like dragons, that roam on the island, to your advantage.
Looting enemy corpses makes Rex automatically rip out their cyborg-hearts. These can be thrown to lure dragons to specific locations and make them attack nearby enemies.
This mechanic is indeed quite fun, although a bit over-powered. Yet, the game tries to balance this by making dragons very hard to kill and also attack you if you come to close (behaving just like Far Cry 3's predator animals).

Dinosaurs shouldn't eat light sticks.

Strategically scoping out enemy bases and planning your attack carefully before actually opening fire like in Far Cry 3 is still possible, yet turns out to be not as engaging as in the original.
Blood Dragon's over the top style is therefore also accompanied by an obviously intended faster kind of run-and-gun gameplay. Automatic leveling through XP (no more spending skill points on specific skills), a much bigger life bar, super fast running without slowdown and no falling damage are further indications for this intended design choice.

Blood Dragon takes place on a different but also much smaller island than Far Cry 3's two big ones. Luckily the open-world aspect also finds its place in this DLC. Aside from the aforementioned optional enemy-base-infiltration missions, taking over an enemy base will offer you additional mini-missions that represent the equivalent of Far Cry 3's hunting and bounty missions.
While "Predator Hunt" is basically a bounty mission for individual animals ,"Save Garrison" missions are a bit more interesting, with you having to rescue a hostage that enemies will kill if alarmed. Optional open-world missions like this are pretty nice time killers to unlock additional upgrades to your weapons but get boring pretty quickly and start feeling like busy-work that you have to do to amp up your arsenal.

The DLC sadly offers only a very small and very basic roster of weapons, but which to be fair are very awesome to kill bad guys with. Shooting cyborgs' heads off with a big shotgun just never gets old. However, the game suddenly takes things a little too far when it hands you a completely overpowered weapon at the game's final mission. This weapon, which i won't spoil, can be kept after the main story, uses basically no ammo, and is so enormously OP that it makes playing Blood Dragon after the main story feel like you are in constant god mode. But maybe that's also intended absurdity. 

Run-and-gun is the name of the game.


Aside from the basic game mechanics, Blood Dragon looks like anything but Far Cry 3. Paying tribute to over-the-top future visions of the 1980s, the world of Blood Dragon just oozes neon lights, cheesy, absurd tech designs and cyber-stuff. Cyborgs all look like Daft Punk clones, there are cyber-sharks and rainbow dinosaur dragons that shoot lasers...in tank armors...need i say more?

And as i already said, the style really applies to the player's nostalgia. Especially the 16-bit cutscenes and the awesome VHS reveal trailer for the game make child memories come to life.
It is definitely a love it or hate it kind of thing and trashy as all hell...but considering that this specific style was intended by the developers, I as good as never saw any studio attempt this in such a great fashion.  


The perfect immitation of 80s VHS B-movies continues with the sound design. Cyborg voices exactly sound like they do in cheap old sci-fi flicks and gun sounds do impress as well.
The synthesizer-heavy and typical soundtracks of 80s flicks are also greatly put to effect in Blood Dragon and at times flawlessly mixed with hyper-masculine metal tracks.
A must-have soundtrack for me! 

Blood Dragon: Episode 2: Attack of the Daft Punk Clones!

The Verdict

Ultimately, Blood Dragon is a game that many would rightfully consider being "style over substance". With only very little variation in the linear story and monotone mission designs, mostly copied from Far Cry 3, this DLC definitely won't win any awards for its gameplay.
While it actually does bring one or two new ideas, they are not enough to completely warrant a buy.
However what really does sell the game, is its perfect immitation of 80s VHS B-movies. Rarely have i seen a game with such a flawless execution of a specific style that it wants to mimic.
The absurd style and nostalgia i feel for trashy sci-fi movies and old-school games alone sold this DLC for me.
Sticking out among the sea of DLCs on the market through such a ridiculous style, that is so very different from the original game, is a fairly brave move by the developers.
If you can forgive its lack of innovation in the gameplay and have a soft spot for 80s sci-fi trash, you absolutely owe it to yourself to give this game a shot.    

Final Verdict: 7 out of 10

Status: Great!

1 comment:

  1. For $15, FC3: Blood Dragon is worth the bucks!

    It's hilarious, it's action packed, it's awesome.

    The Blood Dragons would give you a hard time finishing the missions, so if you need a walkthrough, here it is: http://www.cheatmasters.com/blog/2013/05/02/far-cry-3-blood-dragon-guide/