Coming in as Joint 10th in our countdown of favourite games of 2013 is Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
It wasn’t a sequel to Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3, nor was it DLC, but a standalone downloadable first person shooter that very conveniently did not require the original game to play it. Thought to be an April Fools joke when details of the game were first leaked onto the internet, Blood Dragon took the Far Cry 3 engine and game mechanics, reskinned the graphics and turned them into something quite wonderful and different; A tribute to 1980’s low budget sci-fi action movies. From the blank static filled loading screens complete with a VHS tracking bar at the bottom (ask your Dad), to the warped worn out sound played as a suitably retro Ubisoft logo appears on the screen, to the deliberately sparsely animated 16 bit styled cut scenes and synth heavy soundtrack, it’s clear that a lot of love has been put into this.
The game does not take itself seriously, quite the opposite in fact and this becomes apparent as soon as you start the game for the first time and begin the tutorial. Dialog boxes keep popping up on the screen as your AI sardonically tells you that:
‘‘A’ enables you to move in a Z axis arc without touching the ground inbetween’
‘’B ‘to Crouch activates your quadriceps and challenges your sense of balance’
All the while Rex fourth wall breakingly states that he hates tutorials and ‘Just let me kill people damn it!’
Rex, the Kyle Reese/ Corporal Hicks lookalike, is voiced appropriately enough by Michael Biehn. The story sees the aforementioned Rex Colt on a mission to track down his former boss, one General Sloan, who has gone rogue. Rex is a Mark IV cyber commando complete with robot arm.
Whereas the original game was all sunshine, lush vegetation and paradise islands, Blood Dragon is an altogether gloomier affair, with an appropriately blood red sky and stylistically 80’s neon lights everywhere.
The gameplay as previously mentioned largely follows the same mechanics and game loops as FC3. The stealthy takedowns are still present and correct though this time seem a tad unnecessary as the weapons you acquire can be ridiculously powerful. The levelling skill trees have been stripped back somewhat and the crafting system of animal skinning and plant collecting has gone altogether. There’s a ton of collectibles to find in the form of TV sets and VHS cassettes. And there are a number of Omega Force bases littered across the island that you must take control of. Once each base has been liberated you can use it as a fast travel point, restock your ammo and reveal secrets on the map close by. In fact exactly like many other Ubisoft games such as Assassins Creed and WatchDogs. And indeed exactly like the Batman Arkham games as well, which aren’t Ubisoft but you get my point.
Whilst the map is quite large, the overall game is probably around a third of the size of Far Cry 3. You still have jeeps, jet skis and hang gliders to get around the place though.
The wildlife of Far Cry 3 is also present and correct albeit this time they appear as cyber panthers or mutant cassowarys. They are joined by the titular Blood Dragons, huge dinosaur like beasts that roam the island and can be tricky to kill early on in the game. But by the games hilariously over the top final mission, you’ll be riding on the back of one, specifically the Battle Armoured Dragon Assault Strike System (you work out the acronym) who ominously intones that ‘I can shoot lasers out of my fucking eyes’. It’s a truly memorable conclusion to a cracking game.
Rumour has it there may be more to come from this spin off franchise, but I for one would certainly like to see other games take a few more chances and produce smaller experimental experiences like this in the future.