Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review

If there’s one accessory in all of the film, videogame, comic book, and pulp histories that epitomizes “useless decoration” while simultaneously ordaining the concept of “cool,” it’s the bandana. If there’s one accessory that takes the former and plunges it, with grit, deep into the bowels of gratuitous retro-love-song fantasticalism, it’s the kneepad. Rex Colt – sorry, Rex POWER Colt – wears both. But the kneepad comes first.

Such a blanket statement is applied, with confidence and shameless revel, to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Ubisoft created a monster, and it’s painted in neon. Beset by what many are pinning as ’80s nostalgia, the game dispenses Far Cry’s pensive moral quandaries in favor of 8-bit story beats and a SD-VHS Ubisoft logo replete with tracking. The soundtrack mixes the distant clangs of “Terminator” with the tribal beats of “Predator” multiplied by the snap/pop electric drums and guitar. It’s haunting, embellished and magnificent.

But back to Rex. The half-man, half-machine warrior cyborg is dropped on an island with his companion Spider (think Carl Weathers in… well, everything). The year is a futuristic 2007. Canada is a nuclear wasteland, destroyed by world in an arms race. The two are the hunt for their former commander turned potential war criminal, Colonel Sloan. In his first moments, being forced through a tutorial of the games controls, Rex’s character is clear. And it deepens about as much as the acting careers of those he’s based on. In a later cut scene, Rex is asked to take performance enhancing drugs to complete a mission. He refuses, explaining that he made an unbreakable promise to a special lady.

His wife?

“No. Lady Liberty,” Rex replies. “She taught me that winners… don’t use drugs.” Cue the fade in of the 8-bit American Flag and Statue of Liberty – now tarnished by graffiti from a post-apocalyptic world. Brilliant.

What’s more are the blood dragons. Designed to be used against enemies, the neon beasts prowl the island in search of their next cyber solider, or at least a cyber heart. Hearts are collected from downed enemies and used to draw out the dragons. This being a Far Cry game, there are plenty of garrisons to take over, and using one of these T-Rex beasts, who were perhaps taking a snooze a few hundred yards away from the base before besieging it, provides a cataclysmic light show. Laser-eyes and explosive tanks. Rex sprints around the fort, stealthily dispensing of enemies who are distracted by Godzillatron. The synth beats escalate at the right moments.

There’s not a lot to Blood Dragon. On its surface level, it’s a playground for those of us who cherish the irony of bad acting, robotic limbs, and sensationalism. I’ve never played a Far Cry game other than a few aimless hours with Far Cry 2, when I was young and I was reckless. On a deeper level (mind you, a very minimal amount of “deep”), if handled with some restraint and precision, Blood Dragon delivers something I always aimed for when I played pretend as a kid. To be predictable, it delivers those walk-away explosion moments –  the slow-motion dive-out-of-the-window moments.

None of it is taken seriously. The game doesn’t want you to. The level and weapon upgrades – obtained through side missions and money found on downed enemies or crates around the island – are easy to unlock. They result in a nearly-indestructible Rex Power Colt. By the midway point, you trounce opposition. By the game’s end, it’s nonexistent. The final sequence, like Rex’s kneepads, suplexes the embellishment through a neon-grid explosion of spandex-strapped, combat-boot, cyber-eye, jawline-saxophone-shuriken-Micheal-Beihn-bow-and-arrowlaseronelinermegaultraness. Also, did I mention his name is Rex Power Colt?

The only real crime is not allowing players to relive these moments. In a game set on orchestrating superb action beats, the inability to replay past missions is cruel. Once the game is finished, it’s finished. So if you’d like to replay a specific scene or mission, make sure you hard save.

Blood Dragon is intended to be taken for what it is: a joke. Doing so reveals how dumb Rex really is. It reveals how fake the whole concept is. It reveals that the spirit of the ‘80s action genre, once a vision for modern entertainment and genuine fandom, is nothing but exaggerated motivations and regurgitated expletives. Even the game’s website (at least I think it’s the website) is a ruse, portraying the flash and useless nature of a teenager’s Angelfire page that was dedicated to their collection of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” images and fanfic. The reviews are fabricated. The links lead to nowhere. The store sells a banana carrier.

And while I grew up enjoying these elements — these themes and their pomp, now I just love laughing at them.


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Author: Greg Galiffa View all posts by
Greg Galiffa is an Associate Editor at GamerNode. He's also an apologist for the first TMNT film. You can follow him on Twitter @greggaliffa

2 Comments on "Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review"

  1. regretsecret June 8, 2013 at 3:48 am -

    Blood Dragon changed how we perceive Far Cry 3 games,. I guess it did a very good job of balancing humor and gameplay.

    Sgt. Colt’s one liners are better than Jason Brody’s dull dialogues in the original Far Cry 3. The blood dragons are the very difficult to defeat adding challenge the game. So, if you would need a walkthrough, feel free to use this one: http://www.cheatmasters.com/blog/2013/05/02/far-cry-3-blood-dragon-guide/

  2. MingFun June 18, 2013 at 2:08 am -

    wow loved the game specially the 90’s style it introduced was awesome.

    Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon

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