Hands On: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

By Craig Pearson on April 11th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Welcome to the party, pal.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is stupid. It has a terrible story, one-dimensional characters, and there’s no emotional value in playing it whatsoever. I can’t even criticise it for all those things, because that’s everything Ubisoft wants the game to be. They think they’ve found a loophole in any criticism by deliberately aiming low. Hah! The joke’s on them! Blood Dragon is pretty good.

It’s everything fun about the ’80s. It is desert chrome and crappy cut-scenes, RoboCop’s sequels and Terminator’s music, silly names and apocalypses happening to apocalypses. And for some bizarre reason, they’ve made it into a Far Cry 3 game that has nothing to do with any of the previous Far Crys.

It is the future, the year 2007. After Vietnam II and multiple apocalypses, the world is all purple and glowy, like a corrupted VHS tape. You are Sergeant Rex Power Colt, a Mark IV Cyber Commando sent to a distant island to solve world peace by killing cyborgs. At this point you should know that at no point in its development was this ever a normal Far Cry 3 game. It always existed as a love letter to the ’80s.

Like the good bit of Predator, it begins in a helicopter with Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” blaring. We land, via a crash. Following a tutorial where the game freezes me in position and the character rails that he just wants to kill things (voiced with all the world weariness that Michael Biehn can muster), I am let loose on this retro futuristic world that’s decades away from Far Cry 3. The mercs are now electro-voiced robots. I giggled when I heard one shout “holy crap” through a grime of electronic distortion as my ninja star spiked him. I expected a more robotic expression. Who programmed a robot to do that? Probably the same person that programmed my robo-hand to toss up a metallic single digit whenever I mashed the stab button.

Send a maniac to catch a maniac.

It’s incredibly stylised. The robots blast back with neon bullets, heads pop and glowing goo leaks out, the soundtrack is a thumping synth dirge that fits *perfectly*. Take too much damage and the screen will warp like a paused VHS. Cut-scenes play like they’re on an 8-bit console. The only bum note is the swearing in the animated sections. My inner child doesn’t remember any game with such rude language.

I meet up with another Mark IV and we head down to missile silo to disarm a nuke. It is sadly an escort mission through a heavily-armed area. It’s the opening mission, so it has the benefit of the doubt, but like all escort missions it comes with a sense of futility. I play Far Cry 3 to be free, and this is not that much fun. Not even when my partner died and I was forced to stop the nuke from exploding by punching it. That was cool, but it was also a cut-scene.

I eat green berets for breakfast, and right now I’m very hungry!

But it got better. After the nuke punching, I was captured and deposited into a plot of land filled with the game’s titular Blood Dragons. They’re real, and their vision is so poor it’s possible to sneak by them by crouch-walking. They also fire lasers from their eyes, because being a dragon isn’t enough. Handily, they’ll also attack anything covered in blood, so it’s possible to aggro them over to your cause by ripping the heart from the robo-mercs and tossing it like a grenade. This helps in the next section, an assault on an overground base that has giant shield protecting it. The first section is easy enough: I toss the robo-hearts through a megashield and the Blood Dragons start burning everything with their laser eyes. As you do.

The second section feels a little more Far Cryish: I finally have a bow, and can shoot down into the main area of the base below. The game’s HUD starts going over all the possibilities available to me, mockingly telling me of the stealth route, the assault route, how to cut the alarms, pissing off the one-note action hero I’m inhabiting. It’s fun when a game can make fun of its own conventions. I cracked up when I’d taken too much damage and instigated one of Far Cry’s grim ‘self-surgery’ animations: Rex brought out a welder and fired it over his damaged robo-hand.

If it bleeds, we can kill it.

This area feels like a bigger base than I’m used to from FC3, but it’s really just taller than the previous game’s spaces. I zipline down into the area and take cover, using the leftover hearts to draw the dragons in, and the bow and arrow to take the robots out. It’s wide, and I have plenty of room to move. I try and direct the laser beams to the majority of people I’m fighting, and only need to pick off a few stragglers with the bow. But just as I was getting exciting and interesting, the demo ends. I’m not allowed to venture out beyond this base.

This is not just a reskin of Far Cry 3, but it’s definitely cut from the same cloth. I wasn’t allowed to wander, but I’m told the world shares the same systems of the previous game. There’s an ecosystem of animals still out there, though they are roboticised variants of the beasts we once knew. There’s no need for crafting, but there’s a simplified character tree and you can upgrade weapons. The wingsuit is gone, but the hang-gliders remain and Rex doesn’t take fall damage. The mission structure remains in place as well: the central story will drag you across the island, but there are bases to liberate, marked on the game screen by laser-beacons firing into the purple sky, and missions pop up at each when you take them over.

Eye of the tiger!

I was a little bit miffed and surprised that I wasn’t allowed to adventure out from the first two missions. I don’t know anyone who sits down to tell you all about their adventures in Far Cry 3 and actually talks about the story missions, but that’s all that Ubisoft allowed me to play. I do trust them, though: it’s the same team working on this, and they’ve put a whole lot of love into it. I just can’t say for sure that the open-world is as exciting and as varied as the main game. I hope so, and think the left-of-field aesthetic has magicked up something so unexpectedly delightful that it might even make the original game seem a little bit flat.

All-in, they expect you to be fighting for about eight hours. It’s out May 1st.

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94 Comments »

  1. trueplayer says:

    Um, shut up and take my money?!

    • Dowr says:

      Take my money but please don’t shut up?

    • povu says:

      How much money do they take?

      • mmiasmostati says:

        You can preorder RIGHT NOW for Twelve quid: http://store.steampowered.com/app/233270/

        • Snidesworth says:

          That’s a very nice price right there. And, unless I’ve overlooked something, it doesn’t require uPlay either?

          • DarkLiberator says:

            I’m thinking it does like every other Ubisoft game.

          • Snidesworth says:

            Well crap. Still, it wasn’t too bad when I played Far Cry 3. I’m wary of Blood Dragon being pretty similar to that (tedious), but neon, chrome and lasers makes for a far more appealing world than whatever it was FC3 was trying to do.

          • kwyjibo says:

            Given the UPlay DRM fuckup, it might be that they can’t fix it before the game’s release. So maybe it doesn’t require UPlay. I wouldn’t risk it though.

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          • EOT says:

            Considering that there’s a working cracked version already up in torrent sites, and has been for a week or so, you could always just crack the retail copy to stop uPlay shenanigans.

            Not a perfect solution but still a viable one.

  2. DarkLiberator says:

    “it is the near future, the apocalypse has had an apocalypse.”

    That trailer is fantastic. Good to hear the game is decent.

    Also, panthers with green eyes? Wut?

    • Urthman says:

      That is the greatest game trailer I’ve ever seen. If the game is 1/10th as good as that trailer, it will be GOTY.

      I love the cyborgs with the Cylon / K.I.T.T. moving LED light re-done as a smiley face. So 80′s awesome.

  3. Uglycat says:

    I dare say this could become the new Duke Nukem.

    • soundofsatellites says:

      funny, when I was watching the trailer it occured me that this is what duke nukem forever should’ve been

  4. Lobotomist says:

    Wait…
    How this went from its 1. April joke , its fake ( so said you RPS people)

    To, its launching next month (no mention how we were wrong in thinking its joke)

  5. P7uen says:

    They’ll never be able to say our satire was too subtle this time!

    • Universal Quitter says:

      I was stating to wonder if this was an apology of sorts. I wonder if the far cry 3 writer was involved in any way.

      This sounds more like the game he was describing in the infamous interview than far cy 3 itself.

  6. TheApologist says:

    Far Cry 3 was on my list of games to get at some stage. It’s now top of my list.

    (assuming this is DLC and not an expandalone, that is?)

    • DarkLiberator says:

      It does not require Far Cry 3. Standalone DLC apparently.

      • TheApologist says:

        Even better! Thanks :)

      • lizzardborn says:

        I remember the olde times when it was called standalone expansion :)

        • TheApologist says:

          Of course, in the Beforetimes of the Forgotten Age there were only sequels.

          No one knows the time when some sequels became standalone expansions, nor the reason why. Only that it was the Marketers of Legend that did move their hand and provide us modern mortals with such a bounty of neologism.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            Wasn’t the distinction in whether they used the same engine and art assets? I always took standalone expansion to mean “we aren’t stupid enough to try to pass this off as a true sequel.”

            Then again, that hasn’t stopped them from releasing the same Tropico game 3 times.

          • TheApologist says:

            That’s kind of the sense it has in my mind too, but it quickly gets a bit fuzzy as you say. I’m thinking of the Dawn of War expandalone’s vs Assassin’s Creed 2 / Brotherhood / Revelations – they both used the same engine but had new assets and some new mechanics and a new story.

            I guess they were charging less for the ‘expandalones’ than for the ‘sequels’.

            As for ‘standalone DLC’ that has no story connection to the original and doesn’t require it to play…heaven knows. It’s just a cheap downloadable game (for which I am excited!)…

          • DrollRemark says:

            Ah yes, but what of the Total Conversion?

        • phuzz says:

          The first one I remember was Alien Breed Special Edition ’92, although that didn’t go to such random lengths as this, it did have a video of SuperFrog on the disk, which was pretty amazing at the time.

      • cunningmunki says:

        ‘Standalone DLC’ isn’t that an oxymoron? I’d call it an ‘official mod’. It uses the same gameplay, animations and models (reskinned).

  7. jimangi says:

    But why would they get rid of the wingsuit!? That was the best thing in the world!

  8. RobinOttens says:

    Is this Far Cry 4 rushed out to be a Far Cry 3 expansion so that the proper Far Cry 4 can be a more generic sequel now that Far Cry 3 has proved an unexpected succes?

    Sorry, no basis for this, just random speculation that popped into my head.

    This looks pretty fun though.

    • Ross Angus says:

      But the Far Cry series has never been about continuity. Remember mutagens? Grim realism in Far Cry 2? I’m happy that they throw away the lore each time, and start afresh.

      • Universal Quitter says:

        If only Bethesda would try that, just for shits and giggles. I’m still waiting for them to realize that hardly anyone actually cares about their lore.

        • strangeloup says:

          There’s an awful lot of people that’d disagree with you. A pretty substantial Elder Scrolls lore community exists.

        • EOT says:

          I’d have to disagree with you there. Most discussion I see regarding ES is based around the lore, because, let’s face it, the games themselves are pretty poor. The fiction’s top-notch though.

      • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

        More franchises should do that.

      • altum videtur says:

        Far Cry 3 has multiple allusions to Far Cry 2 actually.
        Bowa-Seko conflict diamonds for instance.
        Aaaaaanyhow.
        I just hope they got rid of Yohalem as a writer. He’s… not so good.

    • Grey Poupon says:

      My guess would be that they started making this as a pass-time activity, as a joke, but then it turned out to be a funny enough an idea that they pitched it to Ubisoft. Doubt Ubisoft would come up with greatness such as this on their own.

      • cunningmunki says:

        I suspect this is the game they REALLY wanted to make, before they had to fulfill their ‘duty’ and make it another ‘serious’, ‘realistic’, derivative sequel with a dull plot and annoying stereotypes.

  9. Drayk says:

    I don’t really like the tongue iin cheek satire of Far cry 3, because It felt liek they missed their point
    Probably because they wanted to make their game less of the brainless shooter it was but still hadn’t the balls to make a proper satire…

    … but THIS I want.

    • DXN says:

      Right. This is what a good parody looks like. In its philosophy it captures and makes fun of everything that is dumb about dumb vidyagames but without being snide. In its gameplay it captures what is fun about vidyagames. BAM DONE. Turns out irony isn’t dead.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      I’d say a ‘brainless shooter’ is something where enemies just pop out in front of you and there’s no thought required in popping them back down. At its best, during the base captures, Far Cry 3 is not a brainless shooter. Its story missions were mostly terrible, but there’s a good quality shooter in there somewhere.

      • cunningmunki says:

        You’re right. And Blood Dragon IS that shooter, with all the nonsense stripped away.

  10. RedViv says:

    It really seems proper delightful.

  11. MajorManiac says:

    Duke Nukem: The DoneRightening

  12. Inigo says:

    It’s a satire of the white male power fantasy of having neon robot hands.

  13. Bhazor says:

    A shooter with colours! Sweet crimney!

    I am so happy I’m crying a little. Shame the dialog and humour seems to be leaning on swearing, 80′s saturday cartoon humour would be much more fitting.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah.

      The only bum note is the swearing in the animated sections. My inner child doesn’t remember any game with such rude language.

      That hit me in the trailer, too. Boosh, illusion shattered.

      • DrollRemark says:

        The “fuck you” flip-the-bird scene was definitely the low point of the trailer. Rest is cool though.

        • P.Funk says:

          I definitely think that stuff is obviously much more influenced by Arnold movies. In most of his 80s absurdity roles like say Running Man he’d have some pretty colourful moments.

  14. Oozo says:

    First Double Dragon Neon, then this. Do I smell a trend? What’s the next logical step? Call of Neon: Dragon Fighter?

    Anyway, count me to the number of people who were not all that interested in Far Cry 3, but probably will get this one here without hesitation.

  15. Spoon Of Doom says:

    I’m loving everything about this. Also, Ubisoft has earned a lot of respect from me for allowing such a project to happen.

  16. Tridae says:

    OH please oh please oh please release the physical copy of the game in a VHS box.
    The big chunky ones with cheap plastic covers.

    Would love one of those, if not the standard edition a collectors edition would be great to have as VHS.

  17. lowprices says:

    Everything I’ve seen of this makes me think of the first Crysis, with a neon filter and the suit set to MAXIMUM IRONY.

  18. Moni says:

    I’m sort of surprised more developers don’t do this kind of thing. Take their very expensive technology from a big game, and just go nuts and make a small, budget priced game with it.

    It just seems to make a lot of economic sense to milk the technology and the brand with something that’s relatively low-risk.

    Just off the top of my head, imagine: If Ubisoft made, “Assassin’s Creed: Free-run racing”; or if DICE made “Battlefield 3: Helicopter Ace Combat ‘em up”.

  19. Snids says:

    The music is glorious. Mmmmmmmmm synthy…

  20. mrd says:

    Totally against the finger wagging entreaties on RPS a while ago but… this makes me want to pre-order.

    It looks so silly and fun and I really enjoyed the FC3 gameplay so this looks like a (cheap) winner for me.

  21. Metalhead9806 says:

    Awesome…

  22. HadToLogin says:

    Wow, 8 hours long game for $15? That have AAA, not mid90s graphics? The quack is going on here?

  23. Captain says:

    someone making this had much love for Captain Power, best show of the 80s

    • Oozo says:

      It’s a sad day when you realize that things like this actually do exist, have done so for years, and you have lived half a life in complete ignorance. A sad day, indeed.

      At least, we have the videogame hommage.

  24. Widthwood says:

    Hmm I wonder why no one is writing their thoughts about “demo” that is already available on not very official sources?…

    I did try it and thought it to be much less amusing. Too much neon, it’s always dark, gameplay is pretty much exactly the same as farcry 3, overall setting tries to much to be like early 90s, but in the end is kinda nothing like it and constant over the top jokes/irony/hyperbole/screaming got me tired pretty quickly.

    That was my impression from first couple of hours (any longer would be pushing my conscience about it being a “demo”), maybe it becomes better, but it surely ain’t nothing like NOLF.

    ps. Actually, now that I think about it, what bothered me most is that it tries to be old-school on the outside, but gameplay-wise is still a modern clunky FPS. I guess I would’ve loved it if it handled with a buttery smooth feeling like quake 1-3, without stupid bobbing and slow reloading, with pixel-perfect aiming, always-run without inertia, etc

    • derbefrier says:

      Cause stealing is wrong and you should feel bad. That’s why.

  25. derbefrier says:

    Sounds like some stupid fun for cheap. It’s always refreshing to play a game that doesn’t take itself to seriously amd I enjoyed FC3

  26. DeanLearner says:

    I’ve never seen the term “desert chrome” before but I instantly knew exactly what it would be.

    • Skabooga says:

      I had a similar reaction: Desert Chrome is something that I always knew existed but never knew it had a name. I’m so happy to learn this.

  27. mehteh says:

    If it requires Uplay then forget it. They lied about backpedaling on their DRM when they were hyping up FC3. When the servers when down briefly people weren’t able to play FC3 or they had very odd glitches

    • DarkLiberator says:

      Well, I merely put Uplay on offline on day 1 and never had a problem with FC3. I had zero interest in the multiplayer anyway.

    • Craig Pearson says:

      I set it to ‘offline’ and had no such trouble.

    • harmlos says:

      I had the same experience as Craig – set Uplay to offline, and played the game. True, the short pause every time I went into the menu where it tried to phone home was annoying, but at least I could play the game. In contrast, Steam’s offline mode has never worked for me so far, so some kudos for Ubisoft for getting this right. Let’s hope it lasts …

  28. Jason Moyer says:

    The incredibly shitty Filmation-style animation is totally selling this to me.

  29. SuicideKing says:

    And Age of Empires 2 HD is for $20.

    Not to mention unplayable too, apparently.

  30. SuicideKing says:

    Far Cry® 3: Blood Dragon is THE Kick-Ass Cyber Shooter. Welcome to an 80’s vision of the future. The year is 2007 and you are Sargent Rex Colt, a Mark IV Cyber Commando. ,Your mission: get the girl, kill the baddies, and save the world.

    Did they just take a shot at Bioshock: Infinite there?

  31. Shooop says:

    I’m not keen on them keeping the playable tutorial trope, but everything else here looks like a blast.

    The blood dragons actually being dragons who want blood? Sold.

  32. strangeloup says:

    This looks like literally the best thing to ever be made in the history of time.

    I found non-80′s Far Cry 3 to be far too bloaty (see also: AssCree3) but this looks like it has a much tighter focus. A focus on being awesome.

  33. LennyLeonardo says:

    “The good bit of Predator”? You are referring to the bit between the beginning and end credits, surely?

  34. buzzmong says:

    I want to play this, as it looks to be right fun.

    For people loving the music, it’s by an Aussie group called Powerglove (yes!), of which you can find their music on Soundcloud (or Facebook): https://soundcloud.com/powerglove

    I urge you to turn the volume up and start at the top, it’s pure awesome.

  35. Wubbles says:

    The cutscene swearing would jive with the rest of the game’s theme if they replaced the animation with cheap live-action. Then, the game would be a parody of schlocky direct-to-video b-movies.

  36. G_Man_007 says:

    They had me at “he’s got Robocop’s gun…”.

  37. Snubbz says:

    “They also fire lasers from their eyes, because being a dragon isn’t enough.” Love’d it :D

  38. Iskariot says:

    This game is mine.

  39. Jraptor59 says:

    It looks great and I already purchased it. Did they mention its only $15?.