Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (PC)

By Matthew Winchester-Arlow

Published on Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Is it strange for me to consider a $15 “expandalone” crazy enough that most people initially thought it was an April Fool’s day prank a game of the year contender? Well if it is, I don’t care. Few games have inspired such glorious feelings of nostalgia and appreciation half as well as Blood Dragon did. None have equaled it. The entire time I was playing it I had the same idiot grin plastered across my face that I had the first time I watched Robocop. Blood Dragon is a pastiche of two decades worth of ultra-violent media, a glorious celebration of cheesy mayhem, and a surprise that came out of nowhere.

You play as Sgt. Rex Power Colt (voiced by Micheal Biehn), a man constructed from the remains of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Ludgren, Sylvester Stallone, and Jean Claude van Damme (Steven Seagal was not invited to the party). Being a cyborg and all, Rex has only two function in cyber-life: he dispenses ultra-violence and atrocious one-liners. The plot is cliched, overdone, and just plain generic. It is also a glorious neon-drenched train wreck to behold. I knew what was going to happen a mile away, but what was happening didn’t matter; it was the how. Rather than surprising you with plot twists, Blood Dragon surprises you with awesome twists, aka “I wonder what awesome thing Blood Dragon is going to show me next?” The awesome twists did not once disappoint. Like the plot, the dialogue is also truly bad. It’s cheesy, over-dramatic, juvenile, and just plain stupid. It is the language of Robocop, Universal Soldier, and Demolition Man. It is also perfect. The actors are clearly having fun with it, and it blends in perfectly with the rest of the atmosphere. Finally, Blood Dragon has the most awesome sex scene a game has ever had or ever will have. Period.

On the surface, Blood Dragon is almost mechanically identical to Far Cry 3. Things change once you dig a little deeper. The fact that you are a cyborg endowed with Crysis-level movement speeds, the ability to fire most weapons accurately while moving without the use of iron sights, and a massive health bar. While stealth still feels unchanged in relation to Far Cry 3, gunplay feels completely different. When the bullets started flying in Far Cry 3, you went straight for the nearest chest-high wall. In Blood Dragon you charge wildly around the battlefield gunning down and blowing up everything in sight. I did notice one problem that was exacerbated by the high movement speed though; I had this strange issue where occasionally I would be unable to pass through doors or walk into pipes. I would just get stuck. That could occasionally be a problem, such as those times when I was trying to dodge lasers being shot from the eyes of an angry dragon.

The ability to manipulate the large local population of laser dragons by using hearts stolen from enemy cyborgs does serve to mix up the gameplay a bit. Outposts have also been subtly changed, in that there is more than one basic design. Far Cry 3 had one outpost with some minor changes here and there. Blood Dragon has normal outposts with massive walls, outposts that mostly exist underground, and outposts that are several hundred feet off the coast. The added variation in outpost design definitely makes slowly pushing Kobr- I mean Omega Force off the island a bit less tedious then it could be. Like Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon does have a few side missions available at each liberated outpost (these missions are often hilarious), and more collectables then you could shake a laser katana at.

The graphics of Blood Dragon both atrocious AND perfect. Cutscenes are pre-rendered at an extremely low resolution at a truly bad an inconsistent frame rate using low quality assets and some truly janky animation. The in-game graphics fared a bit better but had their own set of issues. The world looked nice and everything was generally pretty hi-res, but frequent scanlines and video artifacts made me concerned that my precious VCR was- oh, NOW I GET IT! The deliberately bad graphics of Blood Dragon fit perfectly with the atmosphere it is trying to create and greatly added to my enjoyment of the game. Even with all of those artifacts and scnalines, Blood Dragon still manages to look pretty nice, with well detailed scenery and some very nice explosions. The weapons also look fantastic and serve as some really cool shout outs to things such as Robocop, Terminator 2, and G.I. Joe. I did notice some performance issues at any settings above medium at 1080p on my machine (i7 at 2.2GHz, GT650m), but they remained consistent. By that I mean I saw a drop in frame rate at high settings and above, but it didn’t get any worse at ultra or optimal settings. I suspect that this drop has something to do with SSAO being enabled (which kills performance and you can’t really even notice with all of the artifacts), but for some reason Blood Dragon wouldn’t let me change any of the individual settings so I can’t be sure.

The music in Blood Dragon is just as nostalgic and awesome as the visual style. It’s mix of techno and terribad eighties pop/rock/oh god my ears are bleeding that manages to perfectly capture the soundtrack of the two decades worth of film and games it is trying to evoke. The dialogue and voice acting is equally deliberately terrible, as were the numerous hackneyed one-liners spouted by every major character with some form of cybernetics. The weapons also sound fantastically meaty, with s quad-barreled shotgun and the sniper rifle loaded with explosive rounds being the most impressive.

No matter how awesome the game is, this wouldn’t be a review without at least a few nitpicks. While the visual artifacts do look cool and add to the atmosphere, the way some of them are generated can generate confusion. Some of the effects seemed to ha a certain amount of depth for lack of a better word, which could occasionally interfere with my ability to understand what was level geometry and what was a visual artifact. The one-liners were also pretty good for the most part, but the ones tied to repeated action such as killing people, collecting hearts, or making stuff explode quickly got old as each action only had two or three different lines. The repetition wasn’t too bad, though it did start to get on my nerves near the end. My last nitpick is that I thought the sound the assault rifle makes once it has been modified to fire lasers is weak. It just lacks the punch the rest of the weapon sounds in the game have.

Blood Dragon is one of the least cynical games I have played in a long time. It feels like a passion project; it’s a game made because the developers thought it would be awesome. While playing the game you can almost feel how much fun the developers had making it. At first I thought that Blood Dragon was the Duke Nukem Forever that we had always want, but as time went on, I realized that it was more than that. Duke Nukem was always a parody of action movies built on crass humor and mockery. Blood Dragon is a parody, but it’s a loving one. The game shows a level of reverence for it’s source material that Duke Nukem never did. If Duke Nukem is the Space Balls of action movie parodies, Blood Dragon is Galaxy Quest. Blood Dragon know exactly wants to be, and it succeeds in being that perfectly. It took me six and a half hours to complete the story, liberate all the outposts, and find a good chunk of the collectables, and I consider that time well spent. For the vast majority of my time with Blood Dragon I was in ultra violent neon heaven. I cannot recommend it enough. Far Cr 3: Blood Dragon is out now on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. I’d buy it for a dollar. Or fifteen. Which you can (and should) do right now. Seriously. You won’t regret it.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/233270/

System Requirements:

Minimum:
OS: Windows® XP (SP3) / Windows Vista® (SP2) / Windows® 7 (SP1) / Windows® 8
Processor: 2.66 GHz Intel® Core™2 Duo E6700 or 3.00 GHz AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 6000+
Memory: 2 GB
Graphics: 512 MB DirectX® 9.0c–compliant
DirectX®: DirectX® 9.0c
Hard Drive: 3 GB HD space
Sound: DirectX 9.0c–compliant
Peripherals Support: Windows-compatible keyboard, mouse, optional controller
Requires a UPlay account.

Recommended:
OS: Windows® XP (SP3) / Windows Vista® (SP2) / Windows® 7 (SP1) / Windows® 8
Processor: 2.93 GHz Intel® Core™ i3-530 or 3.10 GHz AMD Phenom™ II X2 550 or better
Memory: 4 GB
Graphics: 1024 MB DirectX 11–complaint or higher
DirectX®: DirectX® 11
Hard Drive: 3 GB HD space
Sound: 5.1 surround sound
Peripherals Support: Windows-compatible keyboard, mouse, Xbox 360 Controller for Windows
Requires a UPlay account.

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