Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review
Reviewed by: ClayMeow
Reviewed on: May 22, 2013
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is ridiculous. The story is ridiculous, the dialog is ridiculous, the cut-scenes are ridiculous, the tutorial is ridiculous, the item descriptions are ridiculous, the weapons are ridiculous, the animals are ridiculous. About the only things that are not ridiculous are the environments and vehicles... for the most part. This is the type of game that could have only been thought up after quite a few beers.
Before you skip to the conclusion, let me make it easier for you – Blood Dragon is one of the best values in gaming today. It's a AAA open-world shooter with a cost typically associated with indie titles – a mere $15 USD. It's roughly half the size of Far Cry 3 with no multiplayer, so the cost certainly makes sense, but it is still refreshing to see in a day and age where most publishers try and milk as much out of customers as possible. Ubisoft could have probably priced it at $20-30 instead and I would have still recommended it, but $15 certainly makes the purchase decision an easier one.
Blood Dragon takes place in a post-apocalyptic near-future – the year 2007. That's not a typo. The game pays homage to 1980s B-movie action flicks and video games, so for those decades, 2007 would indeed be the near future. Ubisoft refers to it as a "VHS era vision of a nuclear future." Remember I said this game is ridiculous, it's not supposed to make much sense. You play as a cyber-soldier named Rex Power Colt. Though you're not indestructible, being part machine does have its benefits: you take no fall damage, you can breathe underwater indefinitely, and you can repair yourself. You also like to throw around one-liners. Blood Dragon is what Duke Nukem Forever should have been, but thankfully this game is actually fun.
The game is rather short, with only seven main missions, but there are sixteen side missions and several collectibles to be found for those that want to extend the play experience. Even so, it took me less than ten hours to "100%" the game on Hard difficulty. As such, I would definitely recommend playing on Hard no matter your shooter skill level, if for no other reason than to artificially lengthen your gameplay. The beginning of the game was indeed rather difficult, but once I progressed and unlocked new weapons, attachments, and abilities, things became rather easy. The difficulty of the late game all depends on how many upgrades you've unlocked – by the time I did the final two story missions, all my guns were fully decked out.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
To unlock the side missions, you have to liberate garrisons. There are thirteen garrisons controlled by Omega Force, the main enemy faction in the game. Liberating garrisons provides numerous benefits. The first is that liberated garrisons act as fast-travel locations, as well as respawn points. Secondly, the surrounding area becomes safer, as enemy patrols will be reduced. Thirdly, they contain the item vendor, and liberating certain ones in an area unlocks the ability to purchase a map that reveals all the secrets for a given sector. Finally, garrisons contain arcade cabinets that provide you with the side quests. Since side quests are your main source of unlocking new attachments, you'll definitely want to liberate every garrison even if those first few reasons didn't convince you. Liberating a garrison involves killing every soldier in said garrison by any means necessary. Do you go in guns blazing? Do you snipe from a safe distance? Do you get in close for some stealth takedowns? All of those methods are certainly viable, but there's a method that's even more satisfying – one you cannot use in any other game – unleashing a titular blood dragon to tear the place asunder.
If you played Skyrim, you may be familiar with blood dragons. These are not those dragons. Blood Dragon's blood dragons are what you would get if you combined a T-Rex with Marvel Comics' Cyclops. They are lizard-like dinosaurs, slightly larger than a jeep, that glow and are blind. Oh, and they shoot lasers out of their eyes. I guess "laser lizard" just didn't sound as cool as blood dragon. Early on, these beasts are quite tough to take down. However, aside from one mission where you have to defeat two of them, you could successfully go the rest of the game avoiding them at all costs. But even if you do not want to fight them, you can still use them to do your dirty work. You have no direct control over blood dragons, but you can throw cyber-hearts to lure them. You acquire cyber-hearts by ripping them out of dead soldiers, so you'll always have enough (I often hit the 99 cap). Throw one into an unshielded garrison and you can just sit back and watch – not once did I see the AI soldiers kill a blood dragon on their own. Blood dragons toss soldiers around, eat them as a light snack, or insta-kill them with their eye lasers – watching them do their thing is pure entertainment.
If you'd rather kill soldiers yourself, you have an arsenal of twelve weapons to choose from… eventually. Those weapons consist of a bow, pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, chaingun, flamethrower, grenades, molotov cocktails, mines, plastic explosives with a detonator, and a special final weapon I will not spoil. You also get a melee attack with a neon dagger and you can throw a d20 to distract guards. While they may sound like standard fare, four of them (pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, and sniper rifle) are upgradeable to ridiculous levels through attachments you can unlock. By the end, I had a silenced pistol, a quad-barrel shotgun that shot fire rounds, a full-auto rifle that shot laser rounds, and a semi-automatic sniper rifle that shot explosive rounds. As I said earlier, the game can get easier toward the end if you unlock everything like I did.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
The other reason the game gets easier as you play is that you level up. Every time you kill an enemy or complete a quest, you earn cyber-points (CP), which essentially acts like experience. Every time you level up, you earn extra health, a new ability, or some other stat. There are thirty levels in total. My favorite level-ups are three additional takedowns you can perform. Takedowns are essentially insta-kill stealth melee attacks. The more advanced ones can completely change the tide of battle, such as taking the enemy's pistol and then using it to kill his friends in quick succession. Once you reach Level 15, you can even perform takedowns on heavy, armored units. If you would like a more challenging experience, you can completely disable the reticle, detection meter, hit indicator, and grenade indicator in the options menu under gameplay.
From a technical standpoint, Blood Dragon runs well and offers a myriad of graphical tweaks to play around with, including changing the Field of View, something I feel every first-person game should allow – the first thing I did was raise that to the max of 110. The game also supports DirectX 11, but can work with DirectX 9 and 10 as well, so even older machines can run it, including those still running Windows XP. Visually, the game features bright and vivid environments, despite its perpetual nighttime atmosphere – the sky will change different shades of blue, purple and red, yet is always dark. The explosions are also quite a visual treat and when you're a little too close, even shake your screen and cause momentary static, as if watching on an old school CRT television. Also adding to that old school aesthetic are "scan lines" on the environment, which you may have noticed in many of the screenshots.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Conclusion
While I feel any first-person shooter fan will enjoy Blood Dragon, if you're an 80s kid like myself, you'll especially enjoy it. The game certainly has a modern aesthetic, but the cutscenes are pure 8-bit NES-era – you have the rectangular image that takes up only the top half of the screen on a black background with the subtitle written in white below it. There are also some references to 1980s pop culture that I will not spoil. The dialog is appropriately cheesy, but the voice acting is top-notch, aided in no small part by Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens) voicing Rex.
There aren't a whole lot of negatives, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Blood Dragon's UPlay account requirement, even if you by the Steam version like I did. I certainly wouldn't consider it a deal breaker, but I know some people hate any digital DRM outside of Steam. Unfortunately, if you're a fan of achievements, there are curiously no Steam Achievements, despite them existing on UPlay. Other than that, there were some minor texture glitches (though you may never even notice them unless you look hard), and vehicles can only be driven in first-person, which can be quite jarring if you're used to switching to third-person view when in vehicles like I am. All these things are minor qualms, but they are worth mentioning. The other thing that is worth mentioning is the game's Mature rating. Blood Dragon certainly has its fair share of foul language and sexual content, not to mention its extreme violence. If those things offend you, you may want to steer clear.
As I said when I started this review, Blood Dragon is an amazing value at a mere $15 USD. And while you will probably 100% the game in ten hours or less, the game thankfully doesn't end there if you want to continue killing. In fact, that's exactly how the game presents it, posing you with a simple option, "Return to the island and continue killing?" If you click OK, you get an equally straightforward mission objective: "Be badass all the way." That final mission objective sums up the Blood Dragon experience perfectly. Not since the Batman: Arkham series has a game made me feel so badass. Those games made me truly feel like Batman. Blood Dragon made me truly feel as I'd expect a cyber-soldier to be – badass and nearly unstoppable.