Way Better Than The Actual ’80s
Over the years, I’ve made several attempts to forget the 80’s. It was a terrible decade filled with bad hair, leather jackets, and hammer pants – a bygone era, best left forgotten to the annals of history. Until now.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon takes every cliché you can think of from the era, wraps it up into a neat little package, and tops it off with an enormous neon bow. The nostalgic romp takes us back to a time where the bad action movie was king and plants us squarely in the middle of one. I would have had a problem with this set-up, but it is so damn good. Check out our video review to find out quickly how good it is below.
Originally announced on April 1, 2013, this game was dismissed by most as an April Fool’s joke. It seemed so far outside the norm, that it was easy to laugh off as another industry prank. In this way, I guess it was the ultimate April Fool’s gag, which has added to the appeal.
Traditionally, most DLC releases expand on the content of a game with extra missions and new characters added to the confines of an already established game. While Ubisoft could have achieved this easily within the world they had already created, they decided to go another direction entirely and pulled it off spectacularly.
Not to say that Blood Dragon has nothing in common with its namesake, because it does. It has quite a lot in common. In fact, the overall feel of the gameplay is almost identical. If you stripped away all of the neon, 80’s references, and the over-the-top action-flick script, what you would have left is a bare-bones Far Cry 3, prior to the addition of story and atmosphere.
On this version of Far Cry 3’s island, many gameplay constructs have only been slightly tweaked, in order to make them fit into the lovingly crafted Blood Dragon mold. Enemy Garrisons take the place of radio towers, hunting remains intact (even though there is no crafting), and re-skinned weapons function largely the same as their predecessors. In addition, the post-apocalyptic landscape is littered with vehicles – off-road vehicles, gunboats, and jet ski’s – to make travelling between objectives both easy and fun.
Taking down your enemies can be accomplished in any way you see fit, and using your cybernetic eye is particularly satisfying. Mark your enemies, plan your attack, and execute. Chaining kills together is another bonus that adds some serious action craziness into the mix. As you progress, you will unlock new ways to string your kills together and by the end of the game, you will be able to pull off some serious badassery.
Overall, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon doesn’t really mess with anything in the gameplay department, which is probably a good thing. After all, there’s no sense in trying to fix something that isn’t broken. The real changes to the game come in the form of a graphics and sound overhaul that would make even the most outlandish 80’s action movie proud.
In this respect, everything has changed.
Visually, the world itself couldn’t differ more from Far Cry 3. Where the original game is set in a tropical paradise filled with rolling jungles, beautiful beaches, and sparkling water, Blood Dragon is sporadic with vegetation, overcast with clouds, and has murky waters filled with cyber-sharks. Neon lighting is everywhere, constantly assaulting your senses with blinding harshness.
With the stage set for a radioactive wasteland of epic proportions, Ubisoft began to add on the polish. Your view is digitized, as though you are actually looking through a cybernetic eye, and taking damage causes screen disturbances that you might expect to see if you were an actual death-dealing cyborg. Rex’s metallic left arm continually reminds you of your augmented state, through robotic middle-fingers and the iconic rock “devil horns” gesture each time you level-up.
And it doesn’t stop there. The GUI, although it functions almost exactly the same, has been spackled in an 80’s glaze as well. Add to that a barrage of witty jokes, hilarious weapon descriptions, and comical character bios and what you have is an amazingly crafted menu system crammed with 80’s pop-culture and attitude. Hell, navigating the menu system is almost as much fun as playing the actual game. Almost.
Completing the visual package, 8-bit cutscenes pace the action beautifully, taking intense action and tempering it with ludicrous comedy. If they weren’t intentional these cut scenes would have been a travesty against modern gaming, but their worth was proven every time I completed a mission, and I found myself looking forward to them every time.
However, amazing retro graphics aside, what really makes Blood Dragon an amazing experience is the sound.
Sound is gaming’s most overlooked aspect and it can make or break, any game. Thankfully, it absolutely defines Blood Dragon. The ambient music created by Power Glove sets the 80’s action-flick tone immediately and never slows down. Add to that other iconic songs from the decade and what you get is a soundtrack that transplants you directly to the 80’s.
The music is amazing, sure, but the audio really shines through the voice acting. Michael Biehn (Aliens, Terminator, and The Abyss) makes Rex “Power” Colt come to life, as an obscenity-wielding walking action cliché. His one liners are sure to stick in your head as is his frustration with his HUD. His HUD torments him throughout the game, prompting Rex to respond in comedic fashion. This truly adds to the overall quality of the game, filling slower gameplay with much needed laughs, but also adding a level of insanity to already frantic action sequences.
The culmination of amazing sound, throwback 8-bit cutscenes, excellent graphics, spotless presentation, and enough details from the 80’s to pack a game twice this size; Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon delivers on every front near flawlessly. I can’t count the number of times I threw my head back in laughter, wreaked mass destruction upon my enemies, or did a double-take at an 80’s reference that took a while to sink into my thick skull. None of this is typical DLC fare, and to the folks at Ubisoft I say this: Thank you.
In short, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is one of the best pieces of DLC I have ever seen hit the market. The fact that it doesn’t require the original Far Cry 3 is a huge bonus for gamers, and at the admission price of only 15 bucks, you simply can’t lose. Buy this game.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
The graphical quality of Far Cry 3 remains intact. The GUI is excellent and the neon filter of the 80’s shines brighter than ever. 4.0 Control
If you have played Far Cry 3, you won’t find much new here. However, controls do function as well as the original. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Blood Dragon could not have hoped for a more fitting and masterfully crafted soundscape. 4.5 Play Value
It’s not terribly long, but there is plenty to do on this island. The ‘80s packed gameplay will have you laughing immediately and keep you laughing indefinitely. 4.7 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best