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Review

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: April 30, 2013
  • PC
Aaron Sampson on Google+

Packed with entertaining action and hysterical writing, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is an '80s-inspired blast.

Great 1980s movie montages featured plucky underdogs, perhaps played by Sylvester Stallone, or maybe Ralph Macchio, demonstrating their determination to triumph over the forces of communism, bullying, or stodgy adults who don't believe in the power of young love. They were accompanied by properly cheesy pop hits, possibly performed by Joe Esposito, or maybe Deniece Williams, creating a wonderful audiovisual time capsule that could have only originated in that fabulous decade. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon understands the power of the '80s. When its inevitable montage comes, you probably won't know the music, but you'll know the type. It's the kind that would have been sung by Michael Sembello, or Kenny Loggins, or Foreigner. If you're a child of the decade, you'll be glad that Blood Dragon knows you so well.

Don't worry, though: if the 1980s are before your time, or if you don't retain any nostalgia for the decade of parachute pants and the Brat Pack, Blood Dragon stands on its own without relying on references, though it packs in plenty of them. This downloadable spin-off of 2012's Far Cry 3 is a fantastically entertaining first-person shooter with more clever dialogue and action-packed hours than most full-priced games. At $15, it's a better deal than every Cabbage Patch Kid you ever loved, every Tears for Fears record you ever spun, and every Muppet Babies episode you ever viewed. Combined.

Well, perhaps Blood Dragon isn't quite that valuable. Nevertheless, it's hard not to be charmed from the moment it begins. Low-resolution cutscenes introduce you to Rex Colt, cybercommando. Rex is voiced by '80s mainstay Michael Biehn, better known for appearing in films like The Terminator (as Kyle Reese) and Aliens (as Dwayne Hicks). Biehn's forced rasp is the perfect complement to Rex's nationalist badassery, and his sincere line delivery makes several scenes all the more hysterical. Consider this dialogue: "I swore an oath to a special lady. Lady Liberty. She taught me that winners don't use drugs." It's a corny line right out of a War on Drugs-era public service announcement, but in the context of an offer to have dragon blood injected into Rex's veins. Meanwhile, you "rent" (that is, collect) VHS tapes of movies with titles like Bourne to Dance; this particular film features a special teacher showing his student "the kind of love he's never known before…the love of dance."

So. Many. Teeth.

You don't need to know the '80s to get Rex's repeated oral sex gags, of which there are far too many. Nor do you need to know the past to understand that calls of "no" during a consensual sex scene would have been inappropriate in any decade. Luckily, most of the jokes aren't so juvenile, including video game cracks that make fun of red exploding barrels, game-violence controversies, and even Ubisoft's own games, like Far Cry 3 and Assassin's Creed. (Listen for bits of throwaway dialogue about girls with tribal tattoos and feather collecting.) The tutorial sets the tone straight away, telling you to press a button "to demonstrate your ability to read," and loading screens helpfully inform you that if you need a hint, perhaps the next loading screen will have one for you. Not every joke is so obvious--you may not notice or get nods to erotic artists and prison documentaries--but the gags are there, making Blood Dragon one of the funniest games in recent memory.

Of course, an '80s-focused game wouldn't be complete if it didn't look the part, and Blood Dragon certainly makes proper homage to its inspiration. Cutscenes look as if they could have been ripped right out of the original Metal Gear, or Shadow of the Beast, complete with the muddy reds, purples, and blues that characterized them. The same color scheme, in turn, infuses the first-person gameplay, as if you're traversing the game's medium-size island while wearing dark magenta sunglasses. Small audiovisual touches, such as the way Rex sometimes takes a blowtorch to his cybernetic arm when healing, and buzzing sounds to indicate Rex's part-mechanical nature, enthusiastically sell the roboapocalyptic setting. And by the final hour, which lends a sly twist to common action-game power trips, you'll appreciate how Blood Dragon uses nostalgia and humor to say something about the state of modern shooters.

It's dark and spooky enough to be another sequel to The Howling.

Blood Dragon isn't just an homage to great memories, however, but a terrific game in its own right. If you played Far Cry 3, you will recognize the structure. Enemy bases are strewn about the island you explore, and by annihilating all of the enemies that patrol them, either silently or forcefully, you convert them to your cybernetic cause. Meanwhile, you move from mission to mission, infiltrating dams and rescuing endangered trash-talking scientists, using semi-futuristic variants of familiar weapons--a sniper rifle, an assault rifle, a bow, and so forth--that handle like their standard Far Cry 3 counterparts. In time, you upgrade most of these weapons; your sniper rifle's bullets gain an explosive charge, your shotgun gets a flaming kick, and so on. You earn access to weapon upgrades by finding collectibles and performing side missions, and you earn other enhancements, such as the ability to perform silent takedowns on heavies wielding flamethrowers, by leveling up. There is no skill tree or anything like that: when you cross the necessary level threshold, you gain new skills automatically.

You'll be glad of those enhancements, too, particularly when coming face-to-face with one of the game's titular blood dragons. These beasts are dinosaurs that shoot laser beams from their eyes, and they're a wonder to behold in action. As it turns out, it's not as difficult as you might think to take one down, but the first time you learn of the dragons, you sneak by a trio of them and then witness one zap a bunch of enemy combatants into dust. You might be engulfed by terror the first time you go head-to-head with one, but dragons are only major threats on hard difficulty.

Hurrah: an escort mission that doesn't totally suck!

They're still fun to face as you roam the open-air island, though, even on medium difficulty. They charge toward you when you make your presence known and give you a powerful swat, and then they rear up before firing their eye-lasers at you, giving you a chance to sprint out of the way. Several story missions have you facing one or two of them in closer quarters than usual, which ramps up the tension. The only downside to facing a blood dragon is the actual act of defeating it: the dragon simply disappears into thin air and an explosion of goo follows, but without any animations or effects tying the two events together. It's an anticlimactic end to a hectic battle.

Such battles are made more hectic when you simultaneously confront gunners and snipers, but in this case, you can toss the gooey hearts you collect from downed foes to direct the dragon's attention toward your enemies. It's a distinct pleasure to watch dragons scoop up adversaries with their mouths and chomp away, and in the case of a facility takeover, you might get a dragon to do all the legwork for you. You're just as likely to charge into battle yourself, however, if for no other reason than to enjoy the solid shooting, or to take an entirely stealthy approach. Just like its forebears, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon makes any approach viable and fun.

In fact, getting all sneaky is more satisfying here than in the original Far Cry 3, in part because you can perform chained takedowns from the very beginning. It's a gruesome delight to stab multiple enemies in a row, and then finish off one final soldier with the throw of a shuriken. Blood Dragon's multilevel bases are larger than Far Cry 3's outposts, and enemies are spaced out in sensible ways, allowing you to move in for the silent kill using a number of different approaches. In a few levels, enemy animations can go missing, or a hulking soldier might unnaturally zoom into a different location, which can trip up your plans. Thankfully, such instances are rare, and aren't likely to dilute the stealthy satisfaction.

Whoa-oah-oah, the grass is on fire.

You could charge through Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon in four hours or so if you are determined, but why rush such a great thing? There's joy in the discovery. Finding all those videotapes isn't busywork for busywork's sake, after all: there's a hysterical film description in it for you, and maybe a weapon upgrade to boot. You could easily double those hours if you go in search of every collectible, perform every side mission, and take down a few dozen dragons along the way. You don't have to love the decade of Rubik's Cubes and Pac-Man Fever to get a kick out of Blood Dragon. But if you do, then all the better: this action-packed shooter will strike all the right synth-pop power chords.

The Good
Hysterical dialogue and collectibles
Lots of smart references to 1980s pop culture
Taking on blood dragons is always a delight
Smart levels and missions make for rewarding stealth
A lot of terrific open-ended action for a great value
The Bad
A few enemy behavior quirks
Some crass jokes land with a thud
8.5
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

About the Author

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

Discussion

42 comments
boiled_rice
boiled_rice

A great review from my favourite video game journalist.  Nearly finished the amazing Far Cry 3 & will probably pick up Blood Dragon next.

msgninja
msgninja

Why the pic look outdate if it say release on 2013? I can read what is say but why 1980s ?

aniket93
aniket93

Far Cry 3 was awesome 
This add on also should be gr8
Retro styled fps ...sounds fun

julzeverne
julzeverne

This game was fantastic! One of the funniest games I have ever played. It made fun of itself, the genre, 80's pop culture, and everything without being too insulting to any of it. I was laughing the entire game. I can't wait to see their next expansion.

I was really getting sick of the teeny bopper BS from the original. I am so glad they did not continue the story with those stupid kids! 

This was a perfect expansion. All of the same gameplay, but an entirely new setting, and even some new weapons. It was over the top in all the right ways.

And only $15!!!

baszzer
baszzer

to all those who hate the game, please be rational. Blood Dragon was supposed to be treated in its absurdity of the 80's, its over-the-top cheesy script, and self-aware tone. It was actually thought to be a joke at the first place. Please do not be so serious in judgement. I myself find those jokes overbearing at times; existing almost everywhere from tutorials, text tips, in-game animations, and the dialogue. But look past the nuisance and you could a very enjoyable game that contrasts the overly serious tone of the the original game. Blood Dragons are actually very nice additions and an encounter with them is surely both rewarding and totally worth for a DLC. The omission of crafting elements resulted n a more focused and refined experience allowing the excellent shooting and stealth mechanics to shine through without having to worry of loot and combat drawbacks. 

predatorium
predatorium

8.5?? Gamespot has really dropped the ball. The game is fun and I love the 80s references, the weapons and Michael Biehn as the main character but it's seriously not worth more than 6/10. They are like kids putting scores on games "oh this game is kinda lame give, 1/10!!" "oh this game is quite fun, 10/10!!" duuhh.

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

SUPERB GAME! GREAT JOKES! Game not for kinder brains, go play retarded cods and other generic brainless spec ops crap without anythign in.

sadeed
sadeed

Whats wrong with GameSpot lately?????

Retardness????

delboywalker
delboywalker

What's with all the hate for this game? It's fantastic!

hadlee73
hadlee73

This actually looks more like what I expected Duke Nukem Forever should have been like, but with Duke-type enemies instead of the ones seen here. I'll probably get it just because I'm a big Michael Biehn fan.

jerusaelem
jerusaelem

A shining neon gem amid a sea of foam packing peanuts. The idea that Ubi would take such a big budget risk with one of their IPs in this day and age of vapid, bubble-wrapped homogenization is pretty damn inspiring, and gives me the tiniest shred of hope that this stagnant industry may still have some life left in it yet. Worth every cent and more, which may very well be the only time I've EVER felt that way about DLC. Honestly amazing. 

And to the fetal alcohol addled CoD children whining about the score I have only pity. Mind you, it's not pity in the sense that you're far too young and stupid to appreciate an amazing game like Blood Dragon when it rears up on its hind legs laser blasts you directly in your annoying little faces. That's simply to be expected. It IS, however, a pity that roughly 60 to 70% of your laughably delicate generation will likely meet their demise at the hand of a f'ing peanut :D

Shelledfade1
Shelledfade1

this got an 8.5? LOL you must be kidding me. Site really has gone down hill for the worse I'm afraid.

Sakuban
Sakuban

Dear Kevin VanOrd, you owe me 15 bucks now. "A lot of terrific open-ended action for a great value" my arse!

julzeverne
julzeverne

Can't wait till tomorrow @ noon!

Looks like Damn Fun!


skeeterbutt
skeeterbutt

this looks like crap.  8.5?   you've got to be kidding.  dumb graphics and gameplay.   I've seen been graphics on PONG.       I'll pass.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Nothing could be more over the top then an 80's envision of the future.

Hurvl
Hurvl

This review makes the game seem better than I expected and I already guessed that it would be a fun blast. Never figured stealth would be rewarding, though, but that's very nice. The more satisfying play styles the better. I never got to experience much of the 80's, being born '85, but I love the movies and love to ridicule the fashion sense of that time.

qewretrytuyiuoi
qewretrytuyiuoi

so basically this is much better than Farcry 3 ?    glad we got that sorted

Sakuban
Sakuban

@666NightsInHell thanks, we have better games like witcher 2, deus ex etc. You can play this dumb game and plus you might enjoy cod retardness as well. Ciao. 

Plus: 80s references my arse, there's no cool sci-fi experience like blade runner, aliens, back to the future or star wars -all 80s yeah- in it, only dumbfuck sci-fi movies of the decade.

twistyanddark
twistyanddark

@delboywalker  We can only suppose that some people do not get the references cz they have never seen an 80s or even 90s sci-fi action movie. I find it impossible not to smile at certain points when some little details reminds me of Tron (1985), Universal Soldier (1992) or even Judge Dread (1995). Also another reason people complain is the high score combined with the low price. Some people think that there must be a catch. Some other just can not accept that they just spent 50 euros/dollars on some AAA title that got a lower score.

ihateds2
ihateds2

@jerusaelem Is this guy not one of the biggest tools you've ever seen on this site?

julzeverne
julzeverne

@Shelledfade1 You obviously didn't even play the game. Because it was definitely worth an 8.5.

Im curious. What games do you like to play?

sargjaeger
sargjaeger

@skeeterbutt  

Be happy that the graphics are dumb. Im afraid you wouldn't comprehend them if they were smart. 

NaturallyEvil
NaturallyEvil

@Sakuban @666NightsInHell  

But that's what was great about the 80's.  The good movies of any decade are good, but in the 80's even the dumbfuck movies were good.

Sakuban
Sakuban

@twistyanddark@delboywalker80s references my arse, there's no cool sci-fi experience like blade runner, aliens, back to the future or star wars -all 80s yeah- in it, there's only dumbfuck sci-fi movies of the decade is referenced in the game and all the jokes were retarded and simple. Gameplay is no fun at all. Just another poor shooter trying to hide behind a bigger curtain to raise some sympathy.

jerusaelem
jerusaelem

@ihateds2 There there, you poor, feeble minded little simpleton. Just because Ubisoft came up with an original, interesting concept doesn't mean your precious homogenized drivel won't continue to be mass produced. I hear they just announced CoD: Ghost! Isn't that swell? I hear they're giving away Reeses peanut butter cups with preorders though, so your best bet is a digital download unless you have a few spare epipen's handy.

sirajahmed
sirajahmed

Ha...ha...ha...Nice one Sakuban. You're a real bad-ass!

Sakuban
Sakuban

@DrizztDark Do not "kid" me bitch. And no i'm not a fat ass, unlike you, in your mother basement moron. Your reply do not create even one meaningful idea. Only ad hominem dumbfuck stuff from a simpleton with zero iq. Am i a troll? So what bitch, your parents are siblings, how's that?

DrizztDark
DrizztDark

Wtf is your problem kid. Have you even played?  Sucks the community is developing more and more trolls for ever game that comes out these days. What fps are on the top for you then? Would like to hear

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • PS3
    • Xbox 360
    Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a spin-off that contains around eight hours of original content and features a single open-world island to explore, with many of Far Cry 3's gameplay systems and mechanics making a return.
    8
    Average User RatingOut of 610 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
    Developed by:
    Ubisoft Montreal
    Published by:
    Ubisoft
    Genres:
    First-Person, Team-Based, 3D, Shooter, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Violence