Quick Look: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Jeff heads back to the island, but this time it's CYBER MADNESS...and Blood Dragons, they are there too.

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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review

4
  • PC

Blood Dragon has a terrific sense of style and gives you some good extra Far Cry 3-style gameplay to fool around with.

The dark, scanline-laden look of Blood Dragon really goes a long way.

Far Cry 3 was a great game, even if its story and characters were pretty lame. Taking over outposts by stealthily cutting alarms, hunting animals, or climbing towers provided terrific distractions from the main plot. So the idea of a standalone Far Cry 3 offshoot that offers more chances to get into some of this specific type of open world mischief is pretty appealing. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon isn't just more Far Cry 3, though. It's Far Cry 3 taped onto a VHS tape, then duped over to another VHS tape with the commercials cut out, then copied for your friends at school and played on a filthy VCR that's been playing illicit tapes taken from the "steamy" section of the local rental store. This '80s action movie twist on the Far Cry 3 mechanics has a killer aesthetic, but it flinches a little too often, resulting an a game that oscillates between dumb B-movie tropes and a self-awareness that prevents the look and tone from working as well as it should.

Blood Dragon takes place in the far-flung future of 2007, where cybersoldiers are the norm. You play as a Mark IV model named Rex Power Colt, and you're sent to an island to stop your former commander, who is harvesting blood from large dragons and plans to launch missiles and infect the world with... whatever it is that the blood from those dragons actually causes. The details of the story are largely irrelevant; it's the style of this retro-futuristic 2007 that matters. The whole game has a dark (almost too dark, at times), muddy look that's being filtered through Colt's cyber-eyes, giving the entire game scanlines. There's a small handful of main story missions to play through, and plenty of side stuff, too. Some of it, like taking over outposts, comes in from the main Far Cry 3, but nothing comes in untouched.

Capturing outposts in Blood Dragon is a little different. The basics of eliminating all the enemies and trying to avoid alarms are still in place, but each base is surrounded by huge energy shields that keep the blood dragons out. If you like, you can sneak into the center of an outpost and lower those shields, letting you watch as the huge, mostly-flightless creatures make their way in and start stomping the computer-voiced enemy troops. Once that's done, of course, you'll still have to deal with the dragon by either killing it or tricking it into leaving the base, which automatically raises the shields again. You can lure the dragons around by throwing cyberhearts, which are looted off of the bodies of your humanoid enemies. It's like the rock throwing system in Far Cry 3, which also shows up in Blood Dragon, but for some dumb reason you're throwing 20-sided dice instead of rocks.

There are tons of robot-voiced enemies to gun down and you'll want to steal their cyberhearts once you're done.

That starts to illustrate the disconnect between Blood Dragon's '80s action movie style and its self-awareness. The game starts with a sour note by putting you through a tutorial that's too cute for its own good, forcing you to stand still and go through the basics while your character, voiced by Michael Biehn (though at times his delivery is a little more Michael Rooker), curses up a storm because he just wants to go kill stuff. All of the loading screen tool-tips try to be self-aware, too. It's like the game can't decide if it wants to lean all the way into its Commando and RoboCop references or hang back and comment on the action like the game is trying to be "above it." It's disappointing, because there are funny moments in both cases, but the whole thing would have been stronger if the writers could have just committed to nailing one or the other.

Other side missions let you rescue hostages or go hunting. Completing these tasks unlock the ability to buy weapon attachments, like explosive rounds for your sniper rifle or a silencer for your pistol. You'll also gain experience points and level up, but unlike Far Cry 3, you can't spend points on a skill tree. The skills--most of which are lifted right out of the main game--are unlocked in a set order. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon isn't an especially long game, but if you attempt to wring every last bit out of the side missions and start hunting for collectibles, there's certainly more to it than the average digital release. It also has a fantastic soundtrack that fits with the retro-futuristic action perfectly.

There are outposts to overtake and just enough side missions to keep you going.

By building on a strong base game, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon brings in a lot of the best moments from its predecessor. Stalking around and silently grabbing an enemy, then dragging his body out of sight is still pretty fun. Chaining together stealth kills and tossing ninja stars at distant enemies (which replaces the "stealth kill one enemy then use his gun to shoot someone else" animation from the original game) is rad. So Blood Dragon works. It also has enough completely ridiculous moments--especially near the end of the game--to make its boneheaded action movie tone work. It's just a shame that this love letter to the sorts of movies you'd catch on Showtime at 2PM on Wednesday in 1988 gets cut with so many winks and nods. Played straight, it'd be a funnier game, but like the core game upon which it is based, Blood Dragon is still great fun.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
55 Comments
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Edited by Gildermershina

I was all ready for this to be "this game is so close to being good but is terrible". Glad I was wrong.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

I think I will play this when I have a chance. Looks pretty cool, even if the humor is hit or miss.

Online
Posted by HungryMatango

awesome

Edited by Sergotron

Would love to see more games in the future do stuff with its dlc that this game has done.

Edited by Atwa

Shame its so painfully short

Posted by Atom

The outpost after the tutorial kinda reminded me of an old PC Terminator game (Future Shock...?)

Looks like they kinda boned up some of the humor, but the good outweighs the bad, IMO. I'll play this one.

Posted by sbarre

I'm impatiently waiting for it to unlock tomorrow morning!

Posted by Reisz

Just like you guys mentioned in the quick look, this is such a great idea. Leveraging a fully realised engine and assets to create a varied, shotgun style, standalone experience is a way better use of materials than DLC and Season pass style content. Forza Horizon was another example of this, no one built a physics engine or handling model for that game, yet it stands on it's own as an experience. I would love to see more of this in the years to come.

Cheers for the write-up.

Edited by MeatSim

Liked me some Far Cry 3 and I like the style of this game so I will play this sooner or later.

Posted by lesaboteur

@atwa: I've read it's clocked around 7-12 hours of gameplay. For $15 that's a pretty good deal.

Edited by Rayeth

I am pretty happy they took a gamble on a game like this. I think its a great way to mix stuff up rather than put out some DLC missions, too bad they didn't play it a bit more straight.

Posted by Colourful_Hippie

@atwa: but it's $15.

lol what the hell is with some people and wanting a bunch of content for every game?

Posted by hsvlad

Gonna play this at 480 resolution to get the true VHS experience!

Edited by fisk0

@hsvlad said:

Gonna play this at 480 resolution to get the true VHS experience!

This is one game I'd like to be able to lock the framerate to something low in, playing the game in 720x576 at 25 fps should be the optimal way to experience it for us living in PAL territory. Preferably if it runs 4% faster than in the US, to simulate the 24 to 25 frame conversion.

Online
Edited by Rubyeye

I am going to stream my playthrough by recording it on my Sony BMC100P Betamax Camcorder and output through my Pinnacle Dazzle digital encoder device and then Gopher my file to the web. Bah, no time for this, my bowl of Croonchy Stars are getting soggy.

Edited by ArtisanBreads

Haven't played yet, but do have to agree with Jeff about how this could have been played more "serious" to the tone and still have been hilarious. It would have been intentional, but played unintentional (if that makes sense).

And a few bits (like the dice) are kind of head scratchers... oh well though. Still looks like fun. Might get it soon or wait for a sale but I'm sure I'll be playing this.

Posted by Hassun

Considering we already have the article, we should just make sure the name which is used is Suppressor, and no Silencer.

Edited by louiedog

While I wait for the game to release I'm going to watch this on a loop. (SFW despite the title)

My childhood weekend afternoons rushed back to me in the Quick Look.

Posted by cthomer5000

@atwa said:

Shame its so painfully short

It's a $15 downloadable that has a campaign as long as most AAA first person shooters. Is this really the game to criticize in terms of value proposition?

Posted by louiedog

@atwa said:

Shame its so painfully short

It's a $15 downloadable that has a campaign as long as most AAA first person shooters. Is this really the game to criticize in terms of value proposition?

Where was the value questioned? Maybe @atwa thinks it looks super rad and wants to play even more.

Posted by ravage484

@cthomer5000: Probably a good thing that it is so short. I don't think I could listen to bad punchlines over and over for more than a couple hours. I think it's probably just enough "dumbness" and gameplay to feel successful. Not to mention you're right, $15 is a huge bargain, even if the story isn't super long.

Posted by Mofaz

@ravage484: The argument of price is absolutely irrelevant, it's the standards that are set by the genre, if it's an open world shooter, it should be longer than a CoD shooter, regardless of price. That being said, 7-12 hours (which is already way too large a margin of difference and likely completely wrong) is fine for an open-world shooter that's smaller in scale, but the whole price-point argument is dogshit anyway.

Posted by KaneRobot

That's some Zamfir-ass flute they've got going there. Makes me want to watch Karate Kid 2. Dunno if I'd pay 15 bucks for this game, but I'd probably pay 5 bucks for the soundtrack.

Edited by Hawkerace

I'm glad it got a good review, the criticalness about some aspects of the game during the quicklook had me somewhat worried. Though I would probably have enjoyed it either way, it shatters the illusion if somebody picks up on something jank that I managed to scim over.

Edited by ripelivejam

man some people's concepts of value are jacked up. :( this seems fucking rad for $15. just need to beat the main game first. :\

Posted by whatisdelicious

It's weird to see all the hate toward Far Cry 3 now. I thought the story wasn't as good as it could've been, but the characters were all plenty interesting.

Posted by bgdiner

I like the creativeness in shifting from a comprehensible, if silly, plot to one that revels in its hokey-ness. Given that a lot of DLC these days is rather derivative of its progenitor, it's cool to see content that, in a way, flips the bird at its parent, and goes on a complete tangent.

Great QL by the way.

Edited by bybeach

Appreciate the review. Between this and the Ql I got a good sense of whether I wanted this game or not. Especially since I went and pre-ordered it....

Being a shooter, science fiction, parody and neon pretty much guarantees I will like it, despite the fact the world is to my eyes too dark ( maybe notch up the bright/gamma just a bit), though I suppose it does take place after a nuclear war.

Like others I am rooting for what the dev. is doing and suspect this game at 15.00 dollars is pretty low priced. But they (the dev.) could do that, having done much of the work for their main presentation. I get a kick out of ppl. seemingly pricing games low, though once or twice I thought a game overpriced also.

Online
Posted by Blargonaut

Wait...did @brad just insult USA shows? We WILL have words, SHOEMAKER!

Posted by silleevanillee

jeff might as well be the living embodiment of video games

Posted by R3DT1D3

Classic Jeff: "I didn't really use explosives, I don't even know how to throw grenades." Then he continues playing with a FPS with a controller on baby mode difficulty :(

Posted by Korolev

CYBER-EYES!? Sold!

Edited by Aarny91

I can't wait to play this.

Edited by beard_of_zeus

@reisz said:

Just like you guys mentioned in the quick look, this is such a great idea. Leveraging a fully realised engine and assets to create a varied, shotgun style, standalone experience is a way better use of materials than DLC and Season pass style content. Forza Horizon was another example of this, no one built a physics engine or handling model for that game, yet it stands on it's own as an experience. I would love to see more of this in the years to come.

Cheers for the write-up.

Definitely with you there. Make more weird standalone spinoff games, developers! I always find those experiences to be quite memorable. Things like inFamous: Festival of Blood or Red Dead's Undead Nightmare spring to mind.

Posted by BeautifulSpaceCowboy

Looking forward to playing this. I'm happy to hear it turned out good.

Posted by probablytuna

Weird how there's no preloading. Also I didn't expect it to come out in a physical form. I would've loved to have one of those awesome posters.

Edited by Sen0r_Awes0me

Looking at reviews, but can't get any sense of whether there are any quality issues in the XBLA/PSN versions as compared to the PC version.

Wondering if this is a game to hold me over until I own a PC capable of playing what I have been told is the one true Far Cry 3

Posted by dyong

I would play this game and I don't give a damn about Farcry 3.

Edited by demontrace

@louiedog: that was a pretty awesome link. For those wondering about the music, if you click on the vimeo icon in the video, it takes you to the vimeo page for the video, and the guy who made it has a track listing. Pretty awesome.

Posted by WickedStyx

@louiedog said:

While I wait for the game to release I'm going to watch this on a loop. (SFW despite the title)

You lied! There's boobs at 52:57

Edited by Zevvion

Looking at reviews, but can't get any sense of whether there are any quality issues in the XBLA/PSN versions as compared to the PC version.

Wondering if this is a game to hold me over until I own a PC capable of playing what I have been told is the one true Far Cry 3

I'm actually kind of curious what all the hate for Far Cry 3 on consoles is about. Yes, it looks better on PC, but allot of people act as if it doesn't look good on consoles. If you compare it to other console games it looks really great.

Also, I have not experienced that much low frame rate on my 360 as others say they have. For example, that instance Patrick often talks about where a certain boat section on rails slows the framerate down to near unplayable levels; I haven't experienced that at all. Which seems impossible because every console is almost the same and it should play games the same way, unlike multiple possibilities on PC.

But I also do not have the insane long boot up time on my 360 they have talked about lately on the podcast. It takes 15 seconds between me pushing the power button and being at the main menu of a game. I'm not sure how it's even possible to have that much of a difference between the same type of console.

Edited by FourWude

Loved Far Cry 3. I'll pick this up when it's half price.

Yeah, value proposition me now, bitches.

Posted by kennybaese

I never did play Far Cry 3. Now I can't decide if I should play this then play the main game if I enjoy it, or play Far Cry 3 and then play this if I enjoyed the main game...

Posted by Rowr

You can never rely on the French for humour.

Actually you can never rely on the French in general...

Edited by firecracker22

I'm curious to see what can happen if this DLC is successful. It seems like Ubisoft invested a (relatively) small bit into this. If I remember correctly, through Patrick's dumptruck interview with the lead on this DLC, they had something like 6 or 7 months to finish this, right? That, plus the game's price is $15....I wonder if this is successful if it'll just greenlight either more expansive DLC in the future (maybe some kind of sequel that'll be larger) or if they'll take a chance on a full game approach?

I dunno, just thinking out loud here. I'd be interested in seeing what more time could do to flesh out some of the ideas in this, like less fourth wall breaking or maybe a better approach to the breaking of said wall?

It still is kinda crazy to see this even exist, when you think about it. And it's a very attractive price.

Posted by RyenDeckard

I bought two copies of this just because I want publishers to know I want more crazy shit like this.

Posted by Zurv

the colors in this doesn't make for "wow, look at the grafix!"

while far cry 3 looks hella better on the PC.. in BD, the colors wash everything..

either way.. here is some PC action :)

Edited by Vuud

It's been a while since a game made me genuinely laugh out loud. I really hope we get to see more Rex Colt in the future but I fear this was just a one shot deal for funsies.

My only complaint is that I wish there was a way to turn off those scanlines.

Posted by Ghostiet

@jeff

"Chaining together stealth kills and tossing ninja stars at distant enemies (which replaces the "stealth kill one enemy then use his gun to shoot someone else" animation from the original game) is rad."

You might wanna fix this. The takedown you are talking about - the Gunslinger Takedown - is still in the game, unlocked around level 25. What you are talking about is simply the Knife Takedown from the vanilla FC3, only you throw a neon shuriken instead.

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