Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon: The Kotaku Review

There is joy in stupidity. In an age where the search for deeper meaning in our interactive entertainment pursuits begins after the first trailer -- where more thought goes into post-game critical analysis than development -- a game that bears its shallow soul for all to see is a blessing.

"The game is stupid," Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon creative director Dean Evans proudly proclaimed during a recent press event -- not foolish pride, but pride in foolishness.

"Dare to be stupid," sang parody artist Weird Al Yankovick in a song appearing in the 1986 animated Transformers movie, a contemporary to the late '80s, early '90s action films from which this day-glo Far Cry 3 spin-off takes much of its inspiration. As a young teen I enjoyed the tune in the same way I enjoyed movies like Terminator and Aliens (both featuring Michael Biehn, the voice of Blood Dragon's protagonist) -- mindless fun.

The game casts players as Sergeant Rex 'Power' Colt, a name we wouldn't have blinked an eye at back in '86. He's a special forces cyborg with a man to kill, but first he's going to have to kill all of the things standing between him and that man. The game's loosely about saving the world. Heck, if we were in the '80s it might have been heralded as a commentary on the Cold War. We were pretty ridiculous in the '80s.

The story unfolds through a series of 2D cutscenes that wouldn't be out-of-place in an NES-era adventure (well, except for the foul language and... other things). And when those scenes end, it's into a day-glo nightmare from the early days of MTV.

If a black light poster broke open a neon bar sign and inhaled its contents, this would be what the puddle of vomit around its corpse would look like when the police found him. It was nice and novel for the first couple of hours, but I soon found myself yearning for the cloudy blue skies of Far Cry 3 proper.

Ubisoft has done great and terrible things with the game engine, transforming it into a nightmare world, where wild boars roam the purple plains, backs covered with neon graffiti. Where mutated gila monsters -- the eponymous blood dragons -- prowl the tiny island, seeking to make a meal of whatever flesh your cyborg body still possesses.

As outlandish and garish as this tiny island is, there is always something there to remind me of Far Cry 3. There's the sweet-spot shooting (not too loose, not too tight) that helped push me to nominate an FPS -- not my normal go-to genre -- for game of the year last year. There are outposts to conquer, side-missions to complete for weapon upgrades, money to collect and animals to hunt. The crafting system is gone (and good riddance), and the levelling system has swapped tattoo-based branching trees for straightforward level-based power upgrades. Oh, and the developers couldn't resist the opportunity to scare the living shit out of me with an alligator. They get me every damn time.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

It's a game so honest about its stupidity you can't help but love it. That and the bit at the end.

Developer: Ubisoft Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC (played) Released: April 30 (PS3), May 1 (PC, Xbox) Type of game: free-roaming first-person shooter What I played: 6 hours to complete the campaign, 10 hours total just screwing around

Things I Liked

  • The big payoff at the end and the musical moments.

Things I Didn't Like

  • The oversaturated day-glo music video graphics wear thin after the first few hours.

But alligator attacks are few and far between -- Blood Dragon would much rather make you laugh than make you scream, and it's damn good at it. Michael Biehn sighs gruffly through the opening tutorials, eager to get with the killing and catchphrases. The dialogue sounds as if it were written by a thirteen year-old me, more concerned with how cool it sounds than how much sense it makes. "Tell them I died for my country," one of Rex's compatriots tells him during a moment of tension. "You'll tell them that yourself!" he responds.

That's the power of overt, honest stupidity. I just described two things I despise in a game attempting to be taken seriously. Bad dialogue and repetitive voice clips would completely kill most games for me, but there is no pretension here at all. There is no other expectation. It's the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker of first-person shooters, delivering ridiculous with a straight face, Airplane! style.

There are people who consider Far Cry 3 to be the wrong kind of stupid -- a senseless story masquerading as something deep and meaningful. There are many games that do just that, and sometimes they succeed. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon isn't trying to fool anyone, and that's why I loved every minute.


Comments

    Isn't this meant to be out today? It's still not available for download on Xbox Live.

      Seems to be out on PSN, perhaps tonight at 8pm or whatever time Live refreshes the marketplace.

    I was planning on playing when I get home, but my Galaxy S4 just turned up. Bloody 1st world problems.

    What I really want to know is how "big" is this game? It's a 1200 MS point arcade title rather than being a DLC addon to Far Cry 3, which set my expectations rather low.

      Other, far better reviews that are actually about the game and how it functions, put the campaign at about 3-4 hours, and 100% completion at 8 hours.

      It takes longer to complete than complete than Modern Warfare 3 but not by much, it also has a fair bit of side stuff to do for example completing the side missions will unlock you things like quad barrels for your shotgun (It sounds cool but it means you run out of ammo 4 times faster :P)

      Probably a solid 5-6 hours which can be expanded to 8 if you do all the side stuff.

    Haven't played Far Cry 3, don't really plan to, but this looks hilarious... will I be missing anything having not played it?

      I'm pretty sure this is completely standalone, just based on the FC3 engine.

        Correct. Stand alone. Also it is fluffing awesome!

      Sounds like your missing one of the best games of 2012.

      The 2 games are completely unrelated. They share some mechanics and the engine of course, but in terms of story etc they have nothing to do with each other.

    Please make a game based on police squad! Zucker-tastic!

      Well there's always this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bD_nrwGaXwY

        I'd never seen that. I'm crying... that is gold! Thankyou :-D

    I usually like Kotaku reviews but this wasn’t great. Okay, it’s FC3 meets 80s punk/scifi. You just repeated that over and over again.
    How is the soundtrack? How big is this game? What is the replay value? What sort of weapons do you use and how do they differentiate from FC3? Is there multiplayer? Is there a level editor? You said there were outposts but are they different to FC3 outposts? Is there anything interesting/different about the upgrades?
    I played FC3 and I don’t think I learned anything about this game than what you can figure from a preview.

      The sound track is pretty much all similiar to what you hear in the trailer, it has a big island but probably not as big as FC3 or maybe it feels smaller because you can move so fast.

      The outposts are all taken by simply killing everyone inside them and after you clear them you get XP and unlock some side missions which allow you to upgrade your weapons.

      The weapons all start out feeling like similar versions of the FC3 weapons however the upgrades really set them apart. Your sniper rifle can be upgraded to fire explosives rounds which will blow up an enemy from a massive distance.

      The shotgun can be upgraded to have up to 4 barrels and shoot flaming rounds which will set anything or any person nearby on fire.

      There are some more OP weapons you can unlock near the end of the game however I dont want to spoil what they are as it would ruin some of the excitement of getting them.

      There is also a mini-gun you can get and use as a regular weapon however it is not upgradable and you need to buy a crapton of ammo for it.

      There are also the standard grenades/c4 and you can also pull the hearts out of your enemies. You throw the hearts like an additional grenade which will cause blood dragons to goto their location and murder everything.

        Thank you.

        Kotaku, employ this man. He just gave me more information than the "reviewer" did.

    Probably the only FPS I've been genuinely excited about, due to it's subject matter more than it's gameplay. Looks like they did a good job.

    If anyone's looking for more music of the genres that appears in the game please check out my site devoted to modern 80s inspired synth music: http://www.synthetix.fm/

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