Publisher:Ubisoft Developer:Ubisoft Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 UK Price: ~£12 US Price: ~$15
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a piece of art that you’re aware is irredeemably terrible. Everything that has overtly influenced Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon exists in a quantum state where it’s awful and yet compelling at the same time. It’s a pastiche of action movies from the 80s, but it’s not paying them homage for anything other than their outrageous nature and their aesthetic. The game knows that the writing in the source material is bad, that the characters are one dimensional and the activities are ludicrous, but that’s part of the charm. They’re enjoyable because of an undeserved self-seriousness.
Unfortunately Blood Dragon doesn’t quite capture this idea. It makes a novel attempt and gets so close. It’s over the top and stupid and it gets the tone down nearly exact, but it knows this and makes too damn sure you’re aware it does.
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Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon doesn’t need you to have played the namesake that it’s spinning off from at all. It’s a stand-alone release that uses the engine from Far Cry 3 and many of the same assets, but it adds a neon filter and an eternal night time. The team have talked about this game’s tone trying to convey the idea it portrays the Far Cry series taken to its extreme - turned up to 11 if you will. Blood Dragon is supposed to be what the series would be like if they had made 10 more games in quick succession and just warped everyone’s expectations to the point where this wouldn’t even be unrealistic. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon, they suggest, is the “Jason X” of video games. Taking the franchise to the limit of idea-desperation, but here they’re doing it on purpose rather than a lack of other options.
Shooting is still the crux of the game’s activity, but you’re doing so as the cyber-commando Sargent Rex Power Colt, a “Mark IV” unit sent to an evil island military base to prevent your former mentor from launching a doomsday missile. You’ll take down legions of enemy cyber-units along the way. The game’s plotted missions are a little rote, aside from a great late-game addition, and a perhaps ill-advised arena based departure that is probably the least interesting part of the game. Aside from that you have the familiar base-overtaking and item collecting of the source game and a few missions where you have to free captive scientists. Not much of what Blood Dragon actually has you doing is all that memorable, it’s the packaging it’s wrapped in that provides reason to pay attention.
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It adheres to a strict visual style that blends neon and darkness to hammer home an 80s action movie vibe. It doesn’t really work, but that's sort of what makes it work. The environments, mostly those that are outside, can really limit what you’re able to see and everything ends up coming across like a total mess, but that’s appropriate. The team have largely recycled assets from the original game. There’s similar world geometry, it’s got the same vegetation and ancient building wreckage around and the animal designs are just the same as before but with a few minor changes. That all should feel at odds with the aesthetic but it lends to the idea that this was scraped together on a shoestring budget.