Originally assumed to be an April Fool’s joke, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon turned out to be very real. This inexpensive DLC (which doesn’t require that you own the original Far Cry 3) taps pretty much every 80s action movie touchstone: cyborgs, mutants, getting the girl, kicking butt for Uncle Sam – heck, it even features Aliens and Terminator star Michael Biehn in the role of its wisecracking hero, Mark IV Cyber Commando Sergeant Rex “Power” Colt.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – story
While the original Far Cry 3 used (or at least intended to use) its storyline as a way to cleverly satirise the action FPS genre, Blood Dragon’s plot is an unashamed mish-mash of a hundred 80s VHS movies. The year is 2007 and Earth has largely been turned into a nuclear wasteland following a huge war between the USA and “the Reds”. You are Rex Colt, a cybernetically-enhanced American soldier dropped onto an island with your buddy Spider to take down Omega Force, a cyborg terrorist organisation headed by your former mentor and commander. Ubisoft’s tongue is lodged firmly in its cheek.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – gameplay
The game plays much like Far Cry 3 – not a great shock given that it’s an expansion. It’s an FPS in a large, open world (albeit one smaller than either of Far Cry 3’s islands) filled with things to do and people to shoot. But in a break from its parent game, in which you have to unlock skills and weapons over time, Blood Dragon gives you the majority from the very beginning. You can unlock further abilities by levelling up and earn mods to improve weapons by completing hunting and hostage rescue side quests. Aside from the main quest, there are also a number of garrisons to take out – each one opens up more side quests.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – enemies
Omega Force is your main adversary in the game, and the foot soldiers come in the same varieties as those in Far Cry 3: regular troops, snipers, shotgun wielders, tougher “heavies” etc. There are also a few species of wild animals roaming the landscape, with the most fearsome being blood dragons: giant glowing dinosaurs able to shoot laser blasts out of their maws. While these are a threat to you, they’re also an opportunity, as you can turn them against Omega Force by luring them into garrisons, then sitting back and watching as the beasts tear through the enemy for you.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – longevity
There’s no getting around it: this is a fairly short game. The main quest can be powered through in a few hours and the island’s small size means you’ll have explored it all fairly quickly. A number of collectibles add to the longevity, but realistically once you’ve liberated the last garrison you’ll probably have had enough. That said, this costs $26.40 and provides more entertainment than many full price titles. Also, the game’s briefness means the cheesiness of its 80s theme never outstays its welcome.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – presentation
Blood Dragon’s look and feel is arguably the most memorable part of the game. Biehn’s gruff-voiced quips about “firemen, ambulance drivers and policemen” being the real heroes, his Bond-esque one-liners as he dispatches his foes, the 16-bit style cut scenes, the virtual box art (complete with “desert chrome” title) and Australian band Power Glove’s evocative synth-and-squealing-guitar soundtrack – all serve to take gamers of a certain age on a welcome trip back into the mid-80s.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – verdict
Blood Dragon delivers more Far Cry 3-style action but with an arguably more interesting flavour: that of a 1980s action sci-fi film. Its friendly mocking of the genre’s tropes and recreation of its characteristic looks are brilliantly pulled off, and it’s all available for less than the price of a round of drinks. Yes, we like it a lot.
Tested on Xbox 360.