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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review: Borderlands Meets Far Cry In The 80s
Far Cry has always had some underlying comedic value, but the overwhelming theme of solemness and drive has kept the game grounded in reality for the first iterations of the game. Far Cry 3 was no different, putting you in the shoes of a college age vacationer on a remote island that is kidnapped, but gets free and vows to free his friends from the hands of a terrorist regime. If you enjoy that aspect, then you’re in for a surprise in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
Let’s discuss the key points and features:
This game, at its core, is still Far Cry 3, which is to be expected. However, many of the assets in the game have been modified to fit the pervasive 80’s VHS era theme that is so endearing to the title. Cyber points replace experience, and as you level up, you gain new skills automatically, instead of building a skill tree.
Something that was noticed was the unusually glitchy AI. While clearing garrisons, the cyber-soldiers would get caught on any number of things and start to try to find a clear path, which would cause a fair bit of shaking before getting loose. The issue with this is it makes the game feel artificially easy, as it keeps them from attacking, dulling the difficulty that was present in the base game.
When on missions, if you die, the missions roll back to right before the encounter began, allowing a quicker recovery from failure, and allowing you to move on. This was a welcome, but not necessary, addition that lets players enjoy more of the game, and less travelling the same paths.
Mission boards are replaced with adventure cabinets and the item shop is still available in garrisons, that are taken in a similar manner to Far Cry 3 (though with the use of cyber-hearts, you can “recruit” the help of the local deadly laser lizards: the blood dragons).
The basic plot is reminiscent of retro, 1980’s style futuristic action movies. You are a top-of-the-line cyber-soldier tasked with taking out a corrupt leader of a cyborg army. The theme of the interactions are all wrought with humor and corny comedic value, which, though funny enough at first, grows tiring as the game wears on.
Nuclear war has broken out in North America. The war has caused many changes in the environment, as well as the technology, that we are all used to. The colors and environments remind me of a mix between Tron and Terminator. The harsh language used throughout can turn some people off, but fits the theme of the over-the-top action adventure.
The interface is styled like a classic computer terminal, and the graphical themes draw some references to classic table-top and computer RPGs. Cutscenes use little true animations, instead opting for moving static images and basic animations and movements in a 2D cinematic, drawing comparisons to games like G.I. Joe.
To round out the 80’s VHS era theme, the game opts for music and sounds that remind the player of classic action movies and war movies. Comedic dialogue in the game reminded me of Borderlands in some respects, while the game draws references to table-top and video gaming culture throughout. Guns and vehicles retain their polished sound effects from Far Cry 3.
The development of this game so close at the heels of Far Cry 3 itself makes a person wonder if this was a genuine attempt to come with a quality remix of a popular (and expensive to develop) title in order to recoup more of the development costs by using the new engine in a unique way. The rehash of the obnoxious and overdone 80’s action game and movie culture made an effective return 30 years later.
As a gamer and a member of the table-top RPG community, I appreciate the cultural references to things such as 20-sided dice and “violence caused by video games”. The game itself though begins to wear on the player, since the theme is pervasive and overwhelming at times. Older players will likely find some nostalgia in this game, but as a child of the 90’s, only some of it really hit close to home for me.
Overall though, this game, for all its aspects, deserves a decent shot. The component parts all work to fit the theme well, and for that reason, I give this game an 8.5.
Here’s the launch trailer, and the official site.
This game was reviewed on Xbox 360 after 20 hours of gameplay.