Reviewed by: Jamaal Ryan
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon makes me want to quote James Franco's Alien from Spring Breakers. "LOOK AT ALL MY SHYIT! WE GOT FUCKIN' BLOOD DRAGONS, FUCKIN' DRAGONS THAT SHOOT LASERS LIKE GODZILLA! I GOT GUNS THAT SHOOT LASERS FUCKIN’ TOO! AND FUCKIN SHOTGUNS THAT SPIT HOT FIYA! LOOK AT ALL MY SHYIT!!
But slow down.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is everything just mentioned, but it’s also very much Far Cry 3.
Blood Dragon bleeds 80's homages left, right and center. The appropriately named Rex Power Colt – in the distant future of 2007 -- is an assembled cyborg, made bigger, faster, stronger, badasser. From the minute the beat drops, Predator, Terminator 2, RoboCop, and Die Hard, all their pheromones will ooze out of Blood Dragon’s pores. They slap you in the face with everything from dialogue to music to scripting and sequences. The especially faithful bleep-bloop synths pulsate and warble in and out, striking bone chilling nostalgia to those who were within earshot of one of our favorite referential decades.
However, the game’s development very clearly went from stuffing as many 80’s parodies as possible’ to running wild with a parody attitude in and of itself. This is thanks to its incessant barrage of increasingly tiresome humor. The intro film is great, filled with ‘mutha fuckas’ and the appropriate crouch thrust which are all created in old school digital animation, and there are plenty of moments through this six or-so hour campaign that’ll make you laugh out loud. But many of the jokes – not necessarily the references -- run dry fast.
80’s reference number 5.
The games humor is mostly guilty of a pervasive overstayed welcome from beginning to end. It first fails to keep up with a contextually explained – but no less un-amusing – tutorial which feels more intentionally drawn out rather than fulfilling the requirement. A safe assumption would also be that the writing was blind to its own repetition as loading screen hints loop lazy jokes. "Hand guns are guns that fit in your hand… Fast travel allows you to travel. Fast." Really? However the dialogue will still surprise you with chatter and banter that are timelessly appreciative and walk along the line of a similar style to Borderlands 2.
Blood Dragon's art direction presses a familiar dystopian cybernetic future with its purples and maroons which are dotted and lined with neon clashes. However this particular style isn’t for everyone. While the dark vs. neon lit aesthetic is easily relative of old 80's classics, with the lack of lighting aggravated by bold colors and bulky design, this DLC looks duller and less detailed than Far Cry 3 proper. Only 80’s enthusiasts and those with particularly fond memories will hold an unwavering appreciation for Blood Dragons’ look, which it can be certain was the developer’s intention.
The play-style is immediately familiar. All of the core systems from the retail release still exist: enemies cluster in groups with a standard, rusher, sniper, and heavy diversity, higher food chain-placed animals (now coming in mutated and cyborg flavors) will attack when provoked, fire propagation is still naturally aggressive, and outposts – now garrisons -- remain as evaluations for your stealth and/or offensive positional skills. However there are enough subtle and major changes to pull Blood Dragon away from Far Cry 3.
Weapons have a heavier focus in this offshoot and are arguably better integrated than FC3 proper. The options have shifted; the bow and arrow retains its basic form throughout the game’s entirety, only the Robocop inspired pistol is compatible with a silencer (while painfully omitting the sniper rifle), and the quantitative selection is noticeably less. But once you’ve indulged in side quests and collectables, you’ll better appreciate what opportunities lay here.
The omission of explosive weapons (RPGs, grenade launchers, what have you) force you to put more value and effort into unlocking explosive rounds for your sniper rifle, and if the flamethrower wasn’t enough, incendiary shotgun rounds light enemy cyborg’s faces off and the grass on fire. These awesome alterations are not only primarily earned through side quests, but also through gathering collectables and eliminating animals as well.
My qualms with the original Far Cry 3’s limited incentives were unique as the game’s massive scope out matched its extracurricular indulgences. But being that Blood Dragon is a scaled down DLC title with a consistent goal to transform your armory into a badass arsenal, there’s far less room for meaningless wondering. The guns of Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon are the centralized incentive here, standing as the soul encouragement for secondary exploration that reciprocates treasured rewards.
But you can’t talk Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon without talking about fuckin Blood Dragons. These massive beasts wonder the island like any other wild animal you encounter. But their function isn’t just to be a predator behavioral place holder. The dragons have abysmal eye sight but have a supreme sense of hearing, which is established within your first encounter. This alters your plan of attack from just run and gun. You’ll have to creep up on them and aim for their weak spot, relocate at a distance, and position yourself for attack again while avoiding their deafening lasers.
Rex will also gather cyber hearts which he can use to either bait the dragons away, or even grief cyborg enemies with them. If you’re like me though, even on the hardest difficulty you’ll carry the max quantity of 99 cyber hearts without feeling the need to manipulate these neon plasma pumping lizards. But that shouldn’t excuse you from opening an enemy garrison’s laser gate and placing cyborg hearts at the front door as a welcome mat, allowing Blood Dragons to trample in and kill everything.
"I’m gonna level your face like Godzilla levels cities” Not and actual quote from the game.
Comparatively speaking, with such a titular presence in the game, Blood Dragons lose their significance rather quickly. From the moment you detonate a dragon into an unsatisfying ‘splat’, they become easier to kill, though no less exciting to fight. Don’t get me wrong, Blood Dragons are fucking awesome, but they’re certainly no Skyrim Dragons.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is an incredibly bold departured DLC with as many ambitious aesthetics as other content releases we swear by such as Red Dead's Undead Nightmare. It's aimed at a specific demographic, something that's not expected from a big name publisher. While the jokes and non-stop references can get numbing, there’s still a hell of a lot of funny to appreciate here. Mix that with Far Cry 3’s superb sandbox shooter design, and you have one of the best values for your hard earned $15.
+ Far Cry's familiar sandbox shooter formula
+ Incentivized weapon progression
+ 80's nostalgia
- Numbingly redundant jokes