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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Far Cry

It’s hard to think of a decade packed with more awesome action and sci-fi movies than the ’80s. This was the decade that had The Terminator, Aliens, Cobra, Predator, RoboCop, Commando, and two Rambo movies just to name a few, so it’s no coincidence that Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon borrows so heavily from them, creating a bizarre sandbox shooter experience that somehow manages to be one of the best gaming experiences.

Players find themselves in the boots of cyber-commando Rex Power Colt—a newly redesigned cyborg dispatched to a remote island only to uncover that his former commander has gone AWOL and intends to unleash nuclear Armageddon, aided with his research into the titular Blood Dragons: enormous dinosaur-like creatures that shoot lasers out of their eyes. The plot is kept purposefully vague as it’s more of a vehicle to deliver an endless stream of ’80s references and jokes than a coherent storyline.

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Blood Dragon is like snorting an enormous pile of 1980’s pop culture goodness. Ever-present scanlines mimic the feel of watching a used VHS tape and catchy synth music swells during gunplay. Everything is drenched in garish neon as enemy commandos heads burst into blue goo while Rex blurts out a string of one-liners that wouldn’t have been out of place in an action movie back in the day, with a flipping of the middle finger as the closer.

Despite paying homage to the Winners Don’t Use Drugs era of gaming, there’s a lot of Blood Dragon that echoes the gameplay of Far Cry 3. Players are given a large island to explore at their leisure once the opening tutorial mission is concluded, littered with side missions and a handful of story missions that can be tackled. The key to unlocking side missions is by liberating the garrisons sprinkled around the island. Players can choose to take the quiet route by sneaking in with Rex silently taking down every enemy and shutting off the alarms, go in guns blazing, or a combination of the two with the option to lure Blood Dragons into the garrison with the promise of a succulent cyber heart ripped from the chest of a fallen enemy.

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Side missions involve hunting rare cyber animals and rescuing scientists from groups of bad guys. Beyond that, players can scavenge for VHS tapes, notes, and TVs that unlock upgrades that can be purchased at any liberated garrison. Weapon upgrades add serious punch like turning the shotgun quad-barreled and giving the sniper rifle explosive ammo. This turns the game into an over-the-top action shooter rather than the slower-paced campaign of Far Cry 3 in which it can take a while to become an efficient killing machine.

Blood Dragon‘s gameplay mechanics are like Far Cry 3‘s on speed. Rather than unlocking skills one-by-one, most of the abilities are available from the start (such as chain takedowns) and things like extra health bars add up quickly. Rex is much faster than Jason Brody, capable of covering the map as fast as a vehicle could, and able to take much more damage. This makes the experience slightly easier, and Blood Dragon makes up for this by having more enemies to deal with at any given time.

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Completing the game can take around eight hours, depending on how many side activities are completed along the way. Either way, there’s a lot of content for the asking price and it has a polished presentation not typically seen in arcade titles. Rather than just being a typical add-on, Blood Dragon exists more as a complimentary stand-alone experience to Far Cry 3‘s tale of survival and savagery—it’s an insanely fun, ridiculous ode to the bygone era of games that got by on having great action gameplay and a title that sounded cool.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in March 2010.

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