Back in the 80s, when people dressed in eye-straining neon colors and had to carry beatboxes to listen to their favorite tunes, video games were simpler. Comprised of a handful of pixels and music that sounded like R2-D2 singing off-key, it would take a couple more years before games would ever be considered as art.

Though I wasn't able to live it, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon brought me back to this wondrous time which my parents took for granted by indulging in disco. Released in April 2013 by Ubisoft, this standalone expansion sought to ride on the success of Far Cry 3 by going where no game has gone before: to the dystopian future year of 2007.



In a world where mankind has nuked himself yet again, Mark IV cyber-commando Rex Power Colt (who is voiced by Michael Bein, a grizzled actor only your parents would know) is brought in to save the world from his old mentor, Colonel Ike Sloan. Told through static cutscenes with dialogue that is mostly made up of snarky one-liners, the story of Blood Dragon is complete and utter crap.

And I love it.

See, whenever developers try to weave in any sort of serious narrative into a franchise that lets you hunt sharks with grenades and stick plastic explosives onto a boar's butt, the result is somewhat disconnected. Instead of building on Far Cry 3's plot where a young douchebag tries to save his likewise douchebag friends, Blood Dragon goes full-on B-movie crazy with campaign missions that make no sense and writing that can be appreciated by idiots and 80s film buffs like myself.



Take the first mission, for example. As soon as the game starts, you are immediately given a minigun that shoots lasers and are tasked with demolishing an entire garrison while listening to Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally".

If that wasn't enough, a few minutes later you become victim to the worst video game tutorial ever. With your movement restricted, text box after text box show controls which anyone who has played a first-person shooter should know by now. The humor isn't for everyone, but if you don't mind dumbing yourself down to get immersed in an 80s sci-fi movie that was written by a six-year-old bully, then you'll love what Blood Dragon brings.

But enough about that; let's talk gameplay!



Before the game industry got saturated with titles that tried to moralize their characters, violence was fun! That's pretty much the reason people play video games in the first place: to project images of those they hate onto NPCs which they can then kill without remorse. And Blood Dragon does this in spades.

Liberating garrisons (either stealthily or with as much subtlety as Terry Crews in an Old Spice commercial) has always been one of the highlights of the franchise as it gives you an excuse to plan your kills and see the resulting chaos.

Armed with uniquely skinned weapons such as Robocop's handgun and the Fazertron (which shoots bullets instead of something cooler... like lasers), you blast and stab your way through mega-shields and the enemy encampments they protect. Upon clearing the area, this stronghold then becomes a safe haven where you can take on various side missions which, upon completion, upgrade your weapons from their normal variants into souped-up versions that can take out a small country.

Apart from completing side-quests, story missions, and evicting the locals from their residences, Far Cry is also well-known for its animal cruelty. But instead of providing us with boring real-life animals, Blood Dragon's ecosystem consists of cyber-sharks, mutated cassowaries, robo dogs, and my personal favorite, blood dragons.



While other games in the franchise have their fair share of deadly wildlife, blood dragons outclass them by over nine thousaaand. These mini-Godzillas may be nearly blind, but that's largely due to the fact that they can shoot lasers out of their freakin' eyes!

Though usually docile, you can use cyber-hearts (which can be collected from fallen enemies) and de-activate mega-shields in order to call upon your own little demons to clean up shop. This leaves you plenty of time to sit pretty and watch them wreak havoc, like an owner who watches his dog poop on the neighbor's lawn.


Gameplay and story included, it is the way
Blood Dragon was created that makes it unique. The soundtrack, composed by Australian electronic and synthwave duo Power Glove, fits the feel of the entire game and is foreboding yet incites a player to punch a tiger in the face should it invade your personal space. 



Apart from that, certain touches like being able to use the melee button to give objects the middle finger and loading screens that ooze sarcasm are just the developers' way of keeping the player immersed in this cheesy, glow-stick colored world.

That doesn't mean Blood Dragon comes without its quirks. For starters, it is nowhere near as long as a full-release Far Cry game. It can be completed within a number of hours, even with all the collectibles that Ubisoft loves to scatter in their open-world games like so many pieces of Lego on the living room floor.

It also replaces traditional choice-based upgrades with a more linear leveling system, meaning that you can't shoot lasers with your assault rifle until you earn enough experience and free the garrison with that specific side mission reward.

On top of that, the controls for all Far Cry games can be a bit clunky and irresponsive when compared to other first-person shooters. Using medical syringes can be slow and jumping around an island with no day-night cycle makes you wish that the developers attached rocket boots to your feet (which I'm pretty sure they should have done in a game like this).

Nitpicking aside, Ubisoft took a big risk when making Blood Dragon and the result was a neon-colored, self-aware, VHS-playing success. It took the serious narratives of the franchise and threw them out the window, leaving nothing but the bare-bones craziness that players love about Far Cry. 



It may have been short, but within those six to eight hours of hunting blood dragons and flipping the bird at random scientists, you will truly find the old school definition of insanity.

The game is also currently free for PC on the Ubisoft Club for the duration of November 2016, as part of the company's 30th anniversary celebration. So if you're too cheap or skeptical to see if this game is any good, just go create a Uplay account and have your doubts melt from all the lasers and lens flares.







About the author: Carlos Zotomayor

Zoto can see your underpants. Mmm... tasteful.


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