Review: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Square

When Ubisoft unveiled a teaser video and website for Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon on April 1st, 2013, many assumed the title was an April Fool’s joke. Quite surprisingly, fast forward a month and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is now available to download from the Xbox Live Arcade.

Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, the standalone title is set in a futuristic 2007. Players fulfil the role of Sargent Rex Colt, a Mark IV Cyber Commando, who’s fighting against a cyborg army gone rogue. Your mission: get the girl, kill the baddies, and save the world. By no means is this a storyline bursting with massive plot twists and colour, though the title makes up for it in other areas as Blood Dragon plays on two main themes: humour and nostalgia.

Very few games have the ability to make people laugh out loud. However, Blood Dragon is most definitely in that minority. Everything from the hints on the loading screens to the character’s dialogue has been well-scripted to provide one of the funniest games of this generation.

Despite being set in 2007, Blood Dragon contains many references to old-school gaming and technology. The retro cutscenes and the collectibles (which come in the form of VHS tapes and TV sets) will leave older games reminiscing.

In terms of gameplay, Blood Dragon is very similar to its predecessor Far Cry 3. Players explore an open world, completing a range of objectives such as the main campaign, hunting missions, hostage situations and the infiltration of enemy garrisons. Regrettably, a lot of the side missions are very similar, and a little more variety wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Depending on the player’s preference, missions can be approached in one of two ways: stealthily or all guns blazing. While there are no particular advantages and disadvantages to either style, it has been well implemented into the title.

In addition to battling the cyborg army, Sargent Colt also comes face-to-face with dragons – as the game’s name suggests. Dragons are the title’s toughest enemies and there’s a solid feeling of satisfaction once they have been overcome, although they can also be used to the player’s advantage through the use of cyber hearts.

Upon killing enemies, players are able to pilfer cyber hearts from them, which can then be used to lure dragons into enemies and enemy bases. While this saves you from doing a lot of the leg work, the resulting battle against the dragon is also tough. Ubisoft Montreal has managed to balance the two extremely well.

Killing enemies and completing the game’s missions earns players XP, otherwise known as Cyber Points. Earning points allows players to level up and to earn rewards such as a health bar increase and unlocking new features. Bonus points are awarded for headshots, stealth kills and explosive kills. It’s a simple, yet effective system that has worked countless times before.

The game’s weapons predominantly consist of guns, with pistols, shotguns and snipers among those on offer. Other weapons available for the player’s arsenal include a neon blue bow, mostly used for hunting, and a knife for short range attacks and takedowns.

Attachments can be bought for each weapon (with the exception of the knife) as you progress through the game, ranging from bigger ammo magazines to special types of rounds. Whereas they do become useful, the attachments make the game considerably easier, especially in the latter stages of the game, which is something that may be off-putting to those wanting a challenge.

While Blood Dragon isn’t going to bring out the best in your swanky high definition television, especially the retro cutscenes, the graphics are to a great standard for an Xbox Live Arcade title. Likewise, the game’s soundtrack is brilliant as the nostalgic 80s-esque music is the perfect accompaniment for the title.