- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
- ESRB Rating: “M" for Mature
- Genre: FPS
- Pros: Awesome 80's sci-fi aesthetic; solid gameplay; great weapons; everything is crazy and over-the-top; very funny
- Cons: Pretty short and easy
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a completely stand alone title for Xbox Live Arcade. You do not need Far Cry 3 to play it. It is 1200 MSP ($15).
Blood Dragon takes place in the dark and gloomy post-apocalyptic future of 2007, hot off the heels of The Vietnam War II. You play as Rex Power Colt, a cyborg soldier sent to a mysterious island to stop a madman from launching missiles packed with biological weapons. The story is told entirely in 16-bit still image "cutscenes" and hits all of the 80's movie cliches including a training montage and even a (hilariously terrible) love scene. The references are pretty on the nose, but knowing exactly what they're mimicking is honestly part of why it is all so fun. Even better is that everything is turned up to "11", so it is even crazier and more over-the-top than you can possibly imagine. The ending sequence is one of the most metal videogame moments ever.
Overpowered is a term that applies to everything in the game, really. Your character runs blazing fast (so fast that I didn't bother with vehicles and just ran everywhere) and can fall down from pretty much any height without taking much damage. You start off as a powerful badass, and end up extremely overpowered. Toss in the weapon upgrades that turn your normal weapons into WMDs, and nothing really stands a chance. That is the whole point of the game, though, to be over the top and crazy, so it makes for a fun ride.
Just like Far Cry 3, the game takes place on a large island open world you are free to explore. The island itself is smaller than either of the islands in FC3, but still pretty big. You can take on rescue missions where you save scientists as well as hunting missions where you have to kill specific targets with certain weapons. These side-missions, along with collecting a bunch of stuff hidden around the island, are tied to the weapon unlocks so they are definitely worth doing.
There are only 7 story missions, so the game is actually pretty short. It took me a little under 7 hours to beat the game 100% (story done, all side missions, all collectibles) and that is with very little downtime or goofing off. If you die a lot (which you probably won't, the game is pretty easy) or goof off a lot, it could stretch it a bit longer. Seven hours is a bit short for a $15 game, but the crazy moments in the story are worth experiencing more than once, so you'll replay it sooner or later.
What about those "blood dragons" from the title of the game? They are freaking awesome! They are big lizards that glow neon colors and shoot lasers out of their faces and they are genuinely frightening when you encounter them early in the game. By the end of the game (heck, the middle) you are powerful enough to take them on and kill them pretty easily, but they are no less impressive when you see them tearing apart the A.I. soldiers on the island before turning their attention to you. The tutorial stage in the game hints that you should sneak around the dragons and use stealth, but you don't have to. Generally you can just run away. You can also collect the hearts of your fallen enemies and throw those "cyberhearts" on the ground to direct blood dragons where you want them to go, which is very handy. The dragon encounters are kind of like the dragons in Skyrim - very cool to start, and kind of an annoyance by the end, but still cool.
The only negative thing I'll say about the blood dragons is that they'll just make you even more disappointed that there isn't a real dinosaur game that plays like this. We only have lame wannabes like Turok, PJ's King Kong, or Jurassic: The Hunted, and Telltele's Jurassic Park game just didn't cut it. What we need is Far Cry 3 with tons of dinosaurs - make it happen, Ubisoft!
Graphics & Sound
The sound is also very good. The 80's-synth soundtrack is incredible and the sound effects are all perfect. The voice acting also deserves praise as it is just as over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek as the rest of the game. The dialogue is awful, but it is supposed to be awful. I predict players will be spouting Rex's one-liners, ably delivered by Michael Biehn, for weeks to come.