‘Blood Dragon’: Over-the-Top Fun

Courtesy of Ubisoft

Courtesy of Ubisoft

“Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon” is an awesome tribute to ’80s action movies that is both hilarious and really fun to play. Even though the scope of the project is often reduced compared to the original “Far Cry 3,” in many ways, “Blood Dragon” triumphantly surpasses its already excellent predecessor.

“Blood Dragon” absolutely nails presenting its story and setting. Set in the year 2007, when the apocalypse has had an apocalypse, Sergeant Rex Power Colt must stop an evil cyborg army from taking over the world. Rex, voiced by “Terminator” and “Aliens” actor Michael Biehn, is exactly the kind of hero you would expect for this journey. He confidently slaughters hundreds of foes while providing an equal amount of profanity and one-liners. Biehn’s enthusiasm for the role really shines through in his performance, which makes Rex easy to root for.

“Blood Dragon” is gleefully aware of how absurd it is, but the way it all gels together is what really sells the experience. Most of the writing consists of nonstop references to other works, but all of it is really clever. I was surprised by how many memorable moments the game contains, many of which had me laughing all the way through.

The game looks really good, and the neon-heavy color scheme, coupled with the fake CRT scan lines, helps sell the ’80s tone. I especially enjoyed the goofy 8-bit style cutscenes that makes even basic movement look ridiculous. In addition to smartly using licensed music at key scenes, I also have to call out the excellent synth-heavy soundtrack by Power Glove, which consistently adds a truly epic weight to the action.

While the tone and story of “Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon” is completely unique from “Far Cry 3,” the base gameplay is largely the same. After two great tutorial missions, you are left free to explore the island. Like “Far Cry 3,” the main attraction is still the garrison missions, which you are free to approach however you want. Hostage missions and fighting the titular blood dragons, giant dinosaurs that shoot laser beams from their eyes, are new additions.

While conquering the island is still superior to the main story’s missions, overall the game’s missions are much improved. They offer more variety and are better designed to keep you constantly moving forward.

“Blood Dragon” unfortunately does weaken some of the best features of “Far Cry 3.” There is only one island in “Blood Dragon,” which has less garrisons and story missions to tackle. Similarly, the arsenal of weapons Rex has available is a lot smaller. The four initial weapons are the only ones that can be upgraded, so you’ll mostly be carrying them around even when you get new tools. Rex’s arsenal may be basic, but it does pack an increasingly satisfying punch that makes you eventually feel unstoppable.

Hunting is still in the game, but it is largely a complete waste of time since crafting better equipment has been removed. Leveling up also loses its appeal because instead of multiple skill trees, there is only one linear path. The upside to making the game smaller and simpler is the improved pacing since you are looking at the menu less.

I 100 percent completed “Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon” in six hours. As the credits rolled and the music kicked in, I felt incredibly satisfied. “Blood Dragon” is a refreshing original experience that must not be missed.

Recommended. “Blood Dragon” deftly combines sharp nonlinear first-person shooter gameplay with an abundance of humor.