Blood Dragon review

“Part man, part machine, but all cyber-commando.”

First impressions are everything to me. If I’m not impressed or at the very least intrigued within the first five minutes of whatever you are showing me, we are not off to a good start. If within the first five minutes of whatever you are showing me happens to have me performing a helicopter minigun cyborg massacre, all while Long Tall Sally is being played in the background (A reference to Predator) then we are off to a good start. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a stand alone expansion to Far Cry 3, and happens to have a helicopter minigun cyborg massacre with Long Tall Sally being played in the background within the first five minutes. Funny how that works.

Story

Blood Dragon takes place in a 1980’s sci-fi version of the future, 2007 to be exact, the United States and the Soviet Union are still at war, and for some reason they nuked Canada. You take on the role of Sergeant Rex ‘Power’ Colt, an all American Cyborg, who must “get the girl, kill the baddies, and save the world”. Not making this up. That is pretty much all you’re expected to do in this game.

The story is pretty simple, you and your partner, Lt. TT ‘Spider’ Brown are sent to a mysterious island to attack Omega Force and find out what they are up to. Rex and Spider find out that an old comrade of theirs, Col. Ike Sloane, is in charge of Omega Force on the island. Col. Sloane is planning on sending the world back to the Stone Age by using chemical weapons, and only Sergeant Rex ‘Power’ Colt can stop him. Did I mention this game is basically an 80’s action movie?

 

“It’s Sloan’s bed time, and I plan to tuck him in…under six feet of dirt.”

Gameplay

The game is pretty much the same as Far Cry 3, how it handles I mean, with a few extras thrown in. You play as a cyborg in Blood Dragon and it sure as hell feels like it sometimes, you can sprint extremely fast indefinitely, swim faster than a jet ski, breathe underwater, there’s no fall damage and the camera from Far Cry 3 has been replaced with a cyber eye. I maybe got into a vehicle three times during my playthrough, Rex runs so damn fast it’s pointless to get in a truck. Enemy strongholds still dot the map just like they did in Far Cry 3, instead of attacking a shanty town however you’ll be attacking futuristic strongholds. Each stronghold liberated rewards the player with side missions and a place to get supplies and upgrades for their weapons.

I don’t know if it was done on purpose, but the enemy A.I. seems to be significantly…dumber. I’m assuming if it was done on purpose, it was done to help reinforce that 80’s action movie feel that they were going for, you know, really dumb enemies who can’t shoot to save their lives. You can practically run circles around the enemy and chain takedown a whole group of them with ease or throw neon pink ninja stars at them, your choice. The same enemies from Far Cry 3 are in Blood Dragon as well, the regular assault trooper, the sniper, the shotgun soldier, molotov cocktail throwing soldier, heavy machine gunner and heavy flamethrower soldier. One of the toughest enemies in the game you’ll face is the Blood Dragon’s themselves, very large, very fast, very strong, and very aggressive, it’s better off you just avoid them until you’re a higher level.

Skills in Blood Dragon are unlocked by leveling up, each of the 30 levels has a specific skill that is unlocked when you reach the corresponding level. No points needed to unlock the skills, you get them automatically. Leveling up is easy and before you know it you’re level 30 and nothing seems to even hurt you anymore. Weapon upgrades in the game don’t come as easy as the player skills however, you have to unlock them by completing side missions, finding collectables, and killing animals. This is the biggest pain by far, the attachments for your weapons cost a lot to begin with and unlocking them involves you performing trivial tasks, tasks that even Rex complains about in game. Hearing Rex say “I hope I don’t have to collect any fucking feathers.” (A shot at Assassin’s Creed) the first time I found a TV set was pretty funny, but after the tenth time it starts to lose it’s flavor. Getting all of the collectables is annoying, but Rex runs so fast it doesn’t take long to get them all. I found it strange that they put collectables in the game, made some weapon attachments require a certain number of collectables to be found to unlock them, and then made Rex complain about looking for them. A lot of mixed signals going on here.

 

They don’t tell you that Blood Dragon’s have a weak spot on their chest until halfway through the game. This would have been nice to know from the start.

Presentation

Guess he’s riding, shotgun.”, “For fuck’s sake! Shut up, HUD! I do what I want.”, “My blood is red, white, and BLUE!”, “Bring the noise!”. Rex’s one-liners throughout the entire game really didn’t get old, some specific lines did, but for the most part they kept the game hilarious – even in the middle of a gunfight. Every character in Blood Dragon is some kind of 80’s action movie cliché, Rex is a one-liner Cyborg, Spider is the typical black action hero who dies early on who wears a ninja mask with a bandanna on his head, Col. Ike Sloan is an evil Cyborg bent on world destruction who wears a chain-mail sleeveless shirt (Bennett from Commando) and a beret, and Dr. Darling is the typical love interest and the only actual woman in the entire game.

If the characters don’t sell the 80’s feel for you, then the cutscenes will. Instead of your usual CGI cutscenes, Blood Dragon uses 16 bit cut scenes. These scenes really set up how silly and dumb this game is. There is an actual training montage (Rocky), followed by a love scene, followed by Rex doing Karate looking at a sunset where at the end he puts on Spider’s bandanna (Karate Kid) all in 16 glorious bits. The game’s creative director Dean Evans said it best “This game is stupid.”.

 

“This isn’t my first time killing guys, and I hope it’s not my last!”

Visuals

Blood Dragon hits the nail on the head with what 2007 would look like in a cheesy 80’s science fiction action movie with Far Cry 3’s graphics. The developers went to great lengths to make every building and weapon look futuristic and went to even greater lengths to put neon colors on everything, they even made the bow neon blue to make it look more futuristic. There is always a haze in the game, always obscuring distant objects, it was done to give the game that apocalyptic nuclear war look, but I think it was done to hide how much the world looked like Far Cry 3, hide the draw distances, and how little was actually in the world. The strongholds, enemy underground bases, and labs look like something out of a movie, and with nuclear explosions going off in distant cities, this game really looks and feels like some cheesy 80’s movie.

Conclusion

As a stand-alone expansion Blood Dragon is pretty damn good, short, but pretty damn good. It’s silly, funny, over the top, well voiced (Rex is voiced by Michael Biehn, he played Kyle Reese in Terminator), and is just stupid fun. The game’s length is where it really suffers, I beat Blood Dragon in probably 5 hours along with finding every collectable and acquiring almost all of the achievements. What it really boils down to is “Is it worth $15?”, and that completely depends on what $15 means to you. If you got the cash to blow, you should get this game, and if you’re broke as a joke, save your money for something that has more replay value. I really enjoyed Blood Dragon, and I would love for there to be a full-game for Sergeant Rex ‘Power’ Colt to really let loose in, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…just wait and see.

8/10

“Lady Liberty. She taught me that winners…don’t use drugs.”

 

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