If I made a list of my favorite games in 2012, Far Cry 3 would be at the very top of that list. The game dominated a lot of my gaming time thanks to its expansive, engrossing, and thrilling free-roaming world filled with fun activities and a compelling mission structure and leveling system that made it impossible for me to put the controller down. I loved almost everything about Far Cry 3, and I never thought I could get enough of the Far Cry 3 formula. But then Blood Dragon came along.
Blood Dragon is set in the 80′s vision of 2007 on an island filled with mutated animals and cyborgs. The setting is interesting, but the story that takes place in this setting is far from it. Players take control of Rex, a cyborg himself that has to stop another cyborg from bringing forth the end of the world. The story is ridiculous, which is fine, but the game leans way too heavily on the one-note joke of “wow, the 80′s had a messed up vision of the future, huh!”
Most of the plot is told through retro cut-scenes not unlike the little sprite-filled stills used to tell stories in the Ninja Gaiden NES games. This is admittedly a nice touch, and they are sometimes very amusing, but they are far too frequent and last way too long for my tastes. In the end, the story is handled poorly. What could have been a wonderfully cheesy and over-the-top affair turns out to be far too abrupt and downright stupid to be enjoyable on any level, really.
At least the core Far Cry 3 gameplay remains intact. Anyone that spent a significant amount of time with Far Cry 3 will feel right at home when it comes to playing Blood Dragon. Unfortunately, Blood Dragon fails to even match Far Cry 3 in terms of quality in the gameplay department at all.
There are seven missions in the campaign, so the campaign is incredibly short. From there, there are the typical Far Cry 3 side activities, but all the joy has been sucked right out of them. Here, they are just tedious and boring, and don’t offer good enough rewards to justify actually bothering with them.
In the original Far Cry 3 game, I really enjoyed hunting animals, crafting new items, and all that jazz, but Blood Dragon strips this all down to nothing. The leveling system in the game has been majorly simplified, so now you can’t even choose your specific skills, but rather are given set rewards at each level up. Exploring the world in Far Cry 3 is a painful experience, but one that I will get into in just a little bit here.
Virtually nothing new is added with Blood Dragon, really. Yes, there are minor tweaks here and there, but it’s just Far Cry 3 with an uglier paint job. One of the major new additions to the gameplay are the titular Blood Dragons, which are like big Komodo Dragons that have neon colors and are very tough. Unfortunately, fighting these things is more annoying than it is fun. They are just giant ammo dumps and don’t pose a real threat most of the time, and having to interact with them for mission purposes is just a nightmare because they never seem to do what you or the game expects them to be doing.
At the end of the day, Blood Dragon simply lacks the charm of Far Cry 3, but it’s not for a lack of trying. Using 80′s style fonts and music was a nice touch, and I do admit that the retro-style cut-scenes can be hilarious at times. The actual in-game art style is just painful to look at, however, with a ton of purple and black neon colors, and it’s really tough on the eyes. After awhile, it just becomes visually uninteresting. It’s like being stuck in one of those ugly other dimensions in an Elder Scrolls game, except for the entirety of Blood Dragon.
Rounding out the presentation is the audio. I already mentioned my appreciation of the soundtrack, but the dialogue and writing just can’t keep up or offer anything worthwhile. There are a few funny lines, but for the most part, the dialogue is just painful and downright atrocious. One particular speech by a character in the middle of the game about people that are against video game violence came across as forced, unfunny, and came across as a rather pathetic attempt to seem cool or edgy.
On top of all these issues, Blood Dragon crashed on me multiple times. I’ve had the game lock up, I’ve had issues where a vehicle I was supposed to be able to access was just floating in the air, and the I’ve also ran into issues with the AI. Partners that I need to open doors would just stand in place, no matter what I did, forcing me to restart the entire mission just to proceed.
Blood Dragon can be fun at times, but that’s only when it reminds you of Far Cry 3. Blood Dragon was an interesting experiment, but ultimately a failed one, and I can’t see myself recommending this game to anyone, fans of Far Cry 3 or not.
Tested on Xbox 360. Final Score: 4.25/10