Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review — Biehn There, Gunned That
Unfortunate, then, that these side-quests — either hostage rescues or bounty hunting missions — are largely by the numbers. For all its zany visuals and writing, the gameplay and encounter design in Blood Dragon are extremely conventional, and that’s disappointing. The different types of cyborg enemies may look awesome, but they’re all archetypes you’ve fought a hundred times before: the crazy charger with the shotgun; the big, armored guy with the flamethrower (hint: shoot him in the back). Player weapons have silly names but few distinctive qualities — even the unlockable attachments are boring and familiar. Mission objectives largely consist of “infiltrate this,” “destroy this,” or “kill everyone inside this.”
If you gave Michael Mann Tony Montana’s desktop pile of cocaine and asked him to direct a gun battle inside a rave inside the the end of the world, it might look a little like Blood Dragon.
The longer you play the game, the more you realize that the world of Blood Dragon goes only skin-deep. Vehicles ought to be a priority in any game based on the tropes of ’80s action movies, but they’re barely changed from Far Cry 3. Chrome sharks are cool, but they’re also just a quick-and-dirty re-skin of regular sharks from the original game. Exotic animals that made sense on Far Cry 3′s Malaysian island, such as cassowaries, appear here in slapdash, “mutant” form.
There’s only one strong example of the game’s over-the-top sensibilities working in tandem with the gameplay: the Blood Dragons themselves. These huge neon beasts have poor vision but excellent smell, and they hunger for the “cyberhearts” of dead enemies. Clever players will sneak about when Dragons are present, leaving a breadcrumb trail of cyberhearts and siccing the beasts onto hapless enemy troops whenever possible. If only this kind of design had proved the rule, and not the exception.
For $14.99, customers may regard these complaints as minor problems. Blood Dragon’s distinctive concept provides some lively visuals and some funny jokes. But in its rush to cash in on the popularity of Far Cry 3 and the popularity of ’80s nostalgia in gaming in a general (and after Hotline: Miami in particular), Ubisoft released a game that lacks the cohesion between tone, art direction, and gameplay required to make it truly memorable. It’s a good gimmick — perhaps at that price point, a great one — but it’s still a gimmick.
- Excellent soundtrack by Australian producers Power Glove
- Free-wheeling Far Cry 3 core gameplay holds up fairly well
- Art direction is excellent
- Some very funny moments
- Changes from the original game are largely cosmetic
- Creativity in presentation isn’t matched by creativity in weapon, enemy, or encounter design
- Many aspects of the game, meant to be stupid funny, are just stupid
Final Score: 68/100
Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.