Ubisoft went against its own ‘super-corporation’ principles by taking the plunge to release something that started as an inside joke amongst Ubisoft Montreal studio programmers. The ‘suits’ at Ubisoft were probably going ‘Hey, this game’s got that indy feel to it, why not capitalize on that?’ Sure, why not. It’s the perfect move by Ubisoft, a publisher cum developer with a reputation matched by none (maybe EA) when it comes to extortion of money from gamers without providing considerable value.
Having said the above, my perception of Ubisoft, I admit, has changed a tad little after the release of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. No, this is not a DLC. It is a standalone package. Means you don’t need Far Cry 3 to actually play it. It’s funny that Blood Dragon stills carries the Far Cry 3 prefix though. And it costs $15 (Rs. 800). Only. So well, I said to myself, this is Ubisoft not being Ubisoft for the first time, and that sounds promising for the gaming industry in general.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (PC[reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 )
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Released: May 1, 2013
MSRP: $14.99 (Rs. 800 approx)
The game starts with an 80s retro style pixelated, non-interlaced video which only takes up only half of your screen’s real estate, very reminiscent of that Nintendo 64 game you loved. The background score summons electronic synthesizers in melody, very Terminator style. The set and setting has a reddish/bluish hue. I get it, this game wants to bring the 80s back. Everybody wants to bring the 80s back these days.
You are half man, half robot, and you’re named Sgt. Rex Power Colt, how cool is that? Rex Colt is a Mark IV cyborg soldier, who lost his significance with the coming of more advanced Mark V soldiers, and was rejected, ignored, and thrown out. And now he wants in.
The planet is in crisis, spearheaded by power hungry dragon-blood fumed Colonel Sloane, and as Rex Colt, your aim is to stop him from doing so. In the process, you kill, and you kill A LOT. From Cyber Soldiers to Cyber Sharks to Blood Dragons.
The game starts with a tutorial, where Rex is asked to look around, read, crouch etc. “Running is like walking, only faster” says one tutorial message, and then it is asks you to run. You get the feeling that this game is trying to be very funny, the humour majorly comes off as self mocking and desperate. The game doesn’t take what it says seriously, and neither should you.
So, how does FC3: BD actually play? As a game, for most of its parts if not all, Blood Dragon IS what Far Cry 3 was. You’ll be doing the same things you did in Far Cry 3. There’s an open island to explore, although its size is not as vast as the parent game. The island design in Blood Dragon is also just a ‘slight’ tweak from the island in FC3. Just some changes in the colour coding of flora and fauna, addition of some new buildings, thats all. Where the Far Cry 3 island was lush, beautiful and expansive, the open world in Blood Dragon seems neonically pale.
Rex Colt is a bad-ass super cool dudebro hero. He is what Duke Nukem was when at his peak. He is what Arnold Schwarzenegger was in Terminator, with the “I’ll be back”s and the “Asta lavista baby”s. Rex Colt is the good part in Blood Dragon, speaking of which, there are only a handful. He’s funny, most of the times, he has that super cool ‘chain smoker’ voice (Jean-Claude Van Damme-esque), throws up his middle finger one time too many and comes with nasty alpha-male one liners. He wields his shotgun by giving it a one-handed juggle, reloads his barrel by stylishly flipping the magazine before putting it into its slot. The teenager in me worships this guy. So much swag.
It is evident that Blood Dragon wants to be the 80s, but it’s commitment to go ahead with the same is questionable and short-sighted. In no time you’ll be hearing the same one liners over and over again. Speaking visually, yes, Blood Dragon does manage to stay true to its USP, it is commendable. Enemy cyborgs speak in a robotic voice, which is tuned to hit that perfect spot. The soundtrack too, is a homage to the Eightys. It is original, yes, but very reminiscent to its era, the ideas and execution is the same, only the script is different.
From the beginning of the game, skills such as Chain Takedown and Shiruken Takedown as available at your disposal, unlike in Far Cry 3, where you had to earn them. There is a leveling system present in Blood Dragon. It is the kind where you don’t have a skill tree and don’t have to make any choices. It is pre-established that a certain level will give you a certain benefit. This is very 80s video gaming, and I like it. You rack up XP points by killing enemies and completing objectives, and you automatically level up and gain the specified skill/healthslot etc. assigned to that level. Easy peasy. And just as in Far Cry 3, you loot dead enemies for Credits and can purchase weapon upgrades and ammo from vending machines.
Combat is fun. It is everything what Far Cry 3 was. It’s your choice as to whether you want to go guns blazing or be more discreet in a combat situation. Far Cry 3 excelled in combat, and so does Blood Dragon. Although I have to admit, I’ve put in about 50 hours in Far Cry 3 so the combat in Blood Dragon had grown out of me, leaving me bored, most of the times. Been there, done that. Even the Outpost system is carried forward into Blood Dragon. You capture outposts just like you did in FC3. Same ol’ same ol’.
One new addition worth mentioning in combat is, wait for it, Blood Dragons. I bet you were wondering if FC3: Blood Dragon had anything to do with actual ‘Blood Dragons’. Well, it does. At various points of the game you’ll have to fight these fierce dragons who can be lethal if you’re not careful. You can use the hearts you pillaged from dead cyborgs to distract them, if they’re fiending for your blood. Dragon love cyborg heart. You can redirect a dragon attack at enemies by throwing a heart near the enemy, so the dragon plays fetch and kills the enemies on the way.
The result of all this, is a game fullest in its desires but short lived in its vision. Speaking of it as a standalone (i.e. exclusive of Far Cry 3’s existence), Blood Dragon is a fun and cheesy game, being erratic at times, and at other times just overdoing it. It is ridiculously short, with the main campaign lasting only 4 hours. The storyline is stereotypical but it’s method of delivery is commendable. In-game conversations are super fun, and Rex Colt’s personality is memorable. I’d like to see Rex Colt make a return. Summarizing, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is homage game. It has paid homage to all the things good about the 80s. It is something like the works of Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino, who’s movies are homage to other directors rather than being brand new concepts.
You should play this game if you can, you’d not want to miss this. It is ridiculously short and has no replay value, but is a memorable and fun experience nevertheless.