Review: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

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One of the biggest challenges in the age of Twitter, where information flows like milk and honey, is actually avoiding information about something, say, a piece of media, you’re looking forward to. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon arrived on a wave of hype for some, while others weren’t even aware of its existence. I saw countless tweets gushing over the game trailer, the game soundtrack, and images of the second coming of 80’s camp. I did not click on any of these. I went into Blood Dragon knowing only that it ran on the Far Cry 3 engine, that it was a tribute to everything awesome and terrible about the 80’s, and that it was supposed to be very good. After roughly three and a half hours, I learned that all of these things are true.

Blood Dragon is a standalone expansion of Far Cry 3, which I do appreciate, as though I have played Far Cry 3, if I was required to have it to play Blood Dragon, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to play Blood Dragon. The expansion uses Far Cry 3‘s mechanics, but that’s where the similarities end. Where Far Cry 3 was about a group of dubstep loving, rich frat bros faced with being taken hostage on a tropical island, Blood Dragon puts you in control of a cyber-patriot nicknamed “Power”, dropped onto an neon-dyed island fortress to kill a Benedict Arnold who went AWOL after he found out the US was committing an unthinkable treason, making peace talks with Communist Russia.

Everything about Blood Dragon is, as it promises, unbelievably 80’s, both the best parts of the best of the 80’s, and the best parts of the worst of the 80’s. There’s references to movies, video games, music, and television from the decade. Early on there’s the infamous handshake from Predator, every bad guy looks like an extra from TRON, and the cutscenes are comprised of 2D images that would feel right at home in a late-cycle NES game or early SNES game. There’s even a montage cutscene, for God’s sake! Amazing. The soundtrack, composed by electronic group Power Glove, is enjoyable enough and certainly sets the mood for the 80’s acid trip, but isn’t as orgasmic as others make it out to be. Drive has set the golden standard, folks. That soundtrack should be your guidebook.

Whoever wrote the dialog in Blood Dragon is a comedic genius, and they need to be promoted and/or work on more projects immediately. Every other thing that our protagonist, Rex Colt, says made me smile at least and bust out laughing at best. After blowing away a foot soldier with my shotgun, he muttered, “Guess that’s why they call it a shotgun”. When I used a sneak takedown to cut an enemies head off, I heard, “What’s the matter? Sword got your tongue?” There are two amazing monologues, one D.A.R.E monologue about the dangers of drugs, and the other a very meta speech about the stupidity of people who believe video games encourage violent behavior in real life. The tutorial is one of the funniest moments of the game, as it pokes fun of the very concepts of tutorials. “To jump, press X. To duck, press O. To look around, look around.” “I fucking hate tutorials,” Colt responds.

While Blood Dragon‘s presentation borders on perfect, the game itself does suffer some of the weariness of being a first-person shooter in an over-saturation of first-person shooters. I understand that the game is making fun of video game tropes, and I can forgive one instance of “defend the nerd while they hack into the mainframe”, but that scenario plays out twice in a video game three and a half hours long, which is really unnecessary. You’re encouraged to use the Blood Dragons, which are really more like Blood Komodo Dragons, to your advantage by tossing bait, but the scenarios rarely play out like the developers imply they will. Maybe I just suck at games, but in my experience, if an enemy sees you and he sets off an alarm, enough guys will spawn that you’re basically fucked, and in most areas stealth is honestly just a pipe dream. In support of Blood Dragon, I will say that the two mandatory vehicle portions are actually enjoyable, and that’s saying a lot since I usually hate vehicle levels.

8/10 –  Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is near perfect in concept and writing, and great but slightly flawed in execution. Blood Dragon is the Black Dynamite of 80’s video games, and for fifteen bucks this retro flashback is certainly worth it.

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