Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a standalone digital title released onto PSN, Steam and Xbox Live last week for $15/£12. In an unusual move, Ubisoft has taken the engine from their popular Far Cry 3 from last year, and added a healthy dose of the 1980’s to it. Taking the open-world nature of the Far Cry 3 but adapting it for the VHS generation, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon makes for an interesting experiment, but is it a good game?
Deliberately channelling the cheese of late 80’s sci-fi movies, cartoons and video games, the plot of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is about as ridiculous as it gets, but at least it knows it. Mainly told in Commodore Amiga style graphic cut-scenes, the game follows hero Rex Power Colt as he battles to prevent the release of a powerful biological weapon in 2007. Yes, you read that correctly. Although the game is set in the future, it is also set in the kind of 2007 imagined in films like Terminator. This sense of humor runs throughout the game’s 6 hour length, starting with an amusingly post-modern tutorial (‘press X to prove your ability to read’ for example) and continuing with mission objectives referencing everything from Aliens to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Oh, and at one point you face off against a dinosaur with laser eyes. LASER EYES.
Strip away the comedic references and funky VHS tracking effects however and what is left? Can the game hold a candle to its parent? Yes and no. Whilst lacking in depth compared to Far Cry 3, this game is clearly trying to be something different and more action-packed. Starting the campaign off with a sequence where you control a machine gun doling out lead justice into a neon factory from a helicopter to the accompaniment of 50’s pop tunes is a great example. Regrettably on standard difficulty it is all a little bit too easy and simple, particularly for veterans of the earlier game. Yes, pushing up the difficulty level will provide more of a challenge, but only in the way that the baddies will soak up more bullets, not to the game’s structure as a whole.
There is an upgrade system in place for your character but it lacks the true customisation of the original Far Cry 3, partly because Rex Power Colt is so badass to begin with. Likewise, stealth doesn’t play a major role in the game as you might expect. Graphically however it impresses with its homage to a future that never existed, all neon wildernesses and eye-popping explosions. The scan-line effect that is ever-present is also a real throwback to the games of the time, without being at all distracting.
If anything, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is the game Duke Nukem should have been. Whilst its core mechanics are solid if not particularly ground-breaking, and it is too easy at times, the main reason for playing is to pick up on the various references whilst having a flipping good time blowing stuff up. If the retro-future stylings leave you cold then you won’t be missing out on an amazing game, but for those of us old enough to remember rushing home from the video rental shop with something like Robocop 2 under our arms then a real treat is in store.
8/10 Overall, but deduct a point if you were born after 1983!