The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Creating compelling single-player downloadable content has
proven to be a tricky endeavor for game publishers. Most seem content to re-use
convenient crutches like pushing half-baked side stories that offer no new
narrative insight or simple aesthetic enhancements like costumes. Recently,
Ubisoft has instead offered splinter content that leverages the resources of
the original game to create a unique experience that has no integral ties to
the base game. One Assassin's Creed III standalone DLC tells the story of an alternate history
where George Washington turns into a tyrannical ruler. For Far Cry 3: Blood
Dragon, Ubisoft Montreal leverages the high technology of its forefather to
channel the spirit of the era when Arnold Schwarzenegger dominated box offices.
Blood Dragon pays homage to the action films, cartoons, and
games of the '80s and '90s with its paper-thin plot, explosive action, and
unapologetically sophomoric humor. Weapons are named after action icons like
RoboCop. The 8-bit inspired cutscenes conjure memories of the NES era. Even the
Drew Struzan-style box art would be right at home on a VHS tape. Each subtle
flourish demonstrates an admiration for a time when entertainment products
weren't overly concerned with political correctness or insightful thematic messages.
This game starts and ends with cyborg armies, cheesy dialogue, and lasers.
In this alternate reality 2007, the Cold War is still
raging, Canada and Australia have been nuked, and women still style their hair like Rocky IV
actress Brigitte Nielsen. When his former Omega Force commanding officer goes
rogue to raise an army of android killing machines, cocky cyber commando Sergeant
Rex Power Colt (voiced by Terminator actor Michael Biehn) sets his blasters to
"annihilate." Clearly inspired by Duke Nukem and the action heroes who came
before him, this half man, half machine spits out one liners like a gatling gun
spits bullets and celebrates high body counts by throwing up the devil's horns
with his cybernetic fingers. Andriods aren't the only threat facing Rex; mutant
animals and dinosaur looking menaces known as blood dragons also roam this
Blood Dragon's neon veneer and synth-heavy soundtrack may
call to mind B action movies, but this retro aesthetic is slapped on top of the
state-of-the-art Far Cry 3 engine. The tight gunplay, open-world exploration,
animal hunting, and wealth of side activities all return with slight
modifications to fit the totally radical motif. Only a handful of story
missions chronicle Sgt. Rex Power Colt's revenge tale (including a hilarious
and explosive finale), so players spend the majority of the time capturing
garrisons, completing rote side missions, and finding the collectables
scattered across the island.
The island houses 13 garrisons, each with slight architectural
variations. Nearly all of them have high walls, so picking off enemies from
afar isn't always an option. Your best bet is often infiltrating the base, deactivating the alarms, and stealthily picking guys off one by one. If a blood dragon is nearby, I recommend turning off the base shields and chucking a cyborg heart toward one of the doors to lure it in. These beasts are more than capable of doing the dirty work for you.
Once liberated, the garrisons open up a few different
side mission types (rescuing hostage scientists, hunting rare animals, or
assassinating elite cyborgs). A couple of these side missions break from the
pack (including one inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), but the repetitiveness
of most is disappointing. The tedious collect-a-thons are also
deflating to the point where Rex himself utters, "Yep, another one. What the f---
am I doing?" Unfortunately, scouring the wilderness for TV sets and VHS tapes
is a necessary evil if you want to unleash the fury of the amazing end-game
As you check these tiresome tasks off your list, you get
closer to attaining a few weapons destined for the first-person shooter hall of
fame. Explosive sniper rifle rounds can take out a jeep and all nearby soldiers
in one shot. The quadruple-barrel shotgun makes short work of the
extremely dangerous blood dragons. The best weapon of all, however, is the
Killstar, a Krull-like glaive that
allows Rex to shoot a devastating laser beam from his hand. As much as I grew
bored with freeing nerds from captivity, earning weapons capable of
eviscerating entire legions in a matter of seconds is highly recommended.
many of the '80s action flicks it mimics, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has the
potential to alienate people with its crass sense of humor and repetitive
one-liners. But if you long for an era when
smart-mouthed badasses were more concerned with making things go boom than
catering to social sensitivities, Rex Power Colt is your man, and Blood Dragon
is your game.
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.