Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review
A dragon tells you genocide is fun
I Don't Remember the '80s
I wasn’t putting together memories or coherent thoughts during the ‘80s, so a lot of references and gags in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon go over my head. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen Terminator and get the tropes and some of the other whatnots, but the specific aesthetic Blood Dragon strives for isn’t something that I find remotely nostalgic. Even considering that, I still had an absolute blast with the absurdist, self-aware humor Blood Dragon uses. Couple that with the gameplay from last year’s Far Cry 3 and this is one radical/awesome/tubular/some-other-‘80s-adjective-a-Ninja-Turtle-would-have-used/good DLC.
The narrative utilizes, criticizes, and references every ‘80s action movie trope imaginable, while retaining a degree of self-awareness that only exacerbates the absurdity. You command Sergeant Rex Power Colt through a story that consistently references a nuked Canada, threats from ‘The Reds,’ and the futuristic world of the year 2007. Just about every line of dialogue and every cut-scene (all of which get a very Sega Genesis vibe with 2D images that barely move) makes a reference to the ridiculousness of everything the game is.
Even the random NPCs of the game take part in the schtick. At one point I heard one of the scientists (or nerds as the game calls them) roaming around the island deliver the line, “Isn’t there a black native around this island who will be my friend and teach me how to be a hero?” Not only does that line deconstruct the whole premise of Blood Dragon’s name sake, Far Cry 3, but it does the same for a lot of the movies and games it references throughout. Plus, more importantly, it was absolutely hilarious. The constant self-awareness is an act that the game mostly pulls off well, but once Rex runs out of one-liners and the repetition kicks in during gameplay, the jokes can get a little irritating. Luckily, the game isn’t long enough for this to get to a point where you need to hit the mute button.
Barely Far Cry 3
Where Blood Dragon is actually similar to Far Cry 3 is its open-world gameplay. In between missions, you’ll be roaming around a huge island as you complete side quests, find collectables (a process which Sergeant Rex openly mocks), and murdering native creatures indiscriminately with high powered explosives—the way every ‘80s movie would have wanted. Like Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon’s exploration is well executed and engaging for the most part, offering you plenty of perks for completing collections and quests. It’s quick and easy to traverse the island since Rex doesn’t take fall damage and runs at speeds that are well expected for a billion dollar robot. The side quests also pull their weight when it comes to ridiculous ‘80s references. A standout was when the games tasked me with crawling through a sewer littered with pizza boxes as I hunted four turtles. Each one even had a particular color painted around its eyes. It’s a quest that solely exists as a reference rather than a challenge as the turtles put up absolutely no fight whatsoever. I got a light chuckle out of it nevertheless.
The addition of blood dragons is where the game’s mechanics sets it apart from Far Cry 3. Blood dragons are massive behemoths that roam the island at random and shoot lasers at you—and anyone else for that matter—from a distance. Evidently, they’re blind, so crouching allows you to sneak past them if you want to avoid them. Where they get interesting is how you’re able to distract them and, in turn, actually utilize them in combat. By tossing a cyber-heart harvested from a normal enemy, blood dragons can be lured to just about any area. Since they’re willing to attack any other NPC in the game, you can manipulate your cyber-heart placements to takedown large brigades of enemies with a blood dragon. They’re present throughout the game, so using a blood dragon is almost always an option when you’re setting up how to take over a garrison or get to a quest objective.
One of the most disappointing aspects of Blood Dragon is how empty the world starts to feel at a certain point in the game. It’s a not a very long game to begin with (which is likely for the best, given how hard its aesthetic is hammered into your skull), but once you’re done with the main missions and side quests, you’re not left with anything too enticing to bother with. Taking garrisons over, which functions identically to liberating bases in Far Cry 3, is plenty fun, yet once you’ve gone through all thirteen of those, the island starts to feel scarce of anything worthy of your time or effort.
Blood Dragon so strives for such a specific style and tone that it could have easily wound up falling flat with its delivery. It also ran the risk of alienating a crowd of younger gamers who just might not understand the eclectic pop culture references presented. On both accounts, however, Blood Dragon manages to be a hilarious open-world game for some and for others an absurd, surreal, yet satisfying dose of nostalgia.
- Absolutely absurd
- Well done open-world gameplay
- So many dragons
- Not a ton of content
- Specific style and tone won't be for everyone