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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon: Thoughts

toolio20 481 April 21, 2013 at 05:33 PM in Video Games (3)
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This is a rare opportunity for a chance to opine about a game before all the pussified fanboys "professional" critics have had their miserable way with it. I'd rather internet yell at people savagely but when my scribblings are moderated into oblivion enough times negative reinforcement becomes a thing so here's my bullshit opinion on a video game instead.

So...Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It's a standalone game. It has no multiplayer online teamspeak. Purported price is $15. Should you buy it? There's a TL/DR at the bottom.

Well, if you're a trend-whore bandwagon jumper then yeah, totally pick this up so you can "ooh" and "ahh" with your "friends" about "sweet" 80s shit you care about du jour then get teh fcuk on because you've got everything you need - this game will clearly be hipster approved due to it's ironic tone and small-batch pedigree (in itself doubly ironic since it's published by Ubisoft - SCORE!) so feel free to rock it out with your rolled-up selvedge cuffs (newsflash: it's still a capri, dick) and cruelty-free yerba mate latte. "OMG dinosaurs with lasers - hells yeah...that's like sooooo amazing." Ugh.

Which ties into a broader point - FC3:BD...ok, no. I'm just sticking with Blood Dragon, regardless of whether it evokes images of a socially untenable girlfriend in the throes of her monthly cycle. Or not. Anyway, Blood Dragon is a deliberate paen to the bad late-80's action movie and therefore easily digestible fodder for the trendy. But despite being accessible to dildos, there's a fair amount of substance to be found and without question Ubi has managed to create a loving homage to the Pepsi Generation [youtube.com]. The plot is generously thin, the characters refreshingly one dimensional, the dialogue is almost spot-on if not just a bit too forced, and the music is utterly perfect. PERFECT. These factors combine to make a game that, thematically, is more laid-back and fun than anything in recent memory, one that manages to conjure the feel of the NES heyday. Many games have been trying to surf the nostalgia wave lately - Blood Dragon nails it.

The secret is a light touch. Period jokes (heh) aren't ham-handedly force fed (ewww), everything is laid out in a straight-man approach which allows the player to enjoy the satire without ever feeling bad about not "getting" a reference. It succeeds because it doesn't ever take itself too seriously (if anything, it undervalues it's own worth). It also helps the game is visually striking and cleverly thought out with just the right amount of content to keep your attention without overstaying it's welcome.

Based on the decision to cast Michael Biehn as RexPowerColt it should come as a major surprise the world of Blood Dragon is heavily influenced by The Terminator, no bad thing because it actually looks the part. Lasers? Check. Littered remnants of T-800 Omega Force cyborgs? Check. Electric Blue/Neon Pink color palette? Check. Scan lines? Yup. Despite being skinned atop the Far Cry 3 engine everything from the player animations and weapons to the landscape and wildlife CYBERwildlife has been tweaked and tooled to look at home in the context of the "story" being told, with a visual style that's a welcome break from the status quo. The bad guys (the aforementioned Omega Force) lack variety, but as they're essentially a stand in for Cobra(aaaaaaa!!!!) right down to the fetish for emblazoning both their Terrordrome-esque garrisons and individual equipment with their ubiquitous symbol, the devs have made this weakness work in their favor. Added bonus: unlike the island inhabitants of...wherever, the Omega Force make headshots worthwhile. Bottom line: the Blood Dragon-verse, while sparse, is gorgeous, competent and pretty kick-ass.

But let's not get carried away here. There are some problems, and typically enough Ubisoft is to blame. The crime? Far Cry 3.

"But, don't you LIKE FC3?" Yes. Or, rather, I liked killing islanders. Until Blood Dragon showed up, kicked me in the balls and taught me how to learn to love again.

I'm of the opinion Blood Dragon is what Far Cry 3 should've been. Let's be honest - the FC3 story was just another please-Christ-won't-these-cutscenes-ever-END-so-I-can-get-to-the-next-fetch-quest snorefest with a shitty protagonist and insufferable supporting cast riding on the shoulders of an engaging villain. But the gameplay was solid. The baseline mechanics are fun (crouch, shoot bow, get shanghai'd by animal during tense stealth infiltration, curse, repeat). However, clearing the world map via one repetitive mission after another absolutely bleeds the enjoyment right out the experience rendering it stale to the point of sheer boredom - let's call it Assassin's Creed syndrome.

What does this have to do with anything? If you've played Far Cry 3 you won't enjoy Blood Dragon as much as someone coming into it fresh, and I'm pissed off about that. I'm pissed I quenched my lust for Death from Below and chained takedowns with the Christopher Mintz-Plasse Experience instead of in the world of awesome lasers and exploding cyborgs and Kyle Reese that is the future. I'm pissed a game like FC3 had to be made in order for a major publisher to take a chance on one that's actually cool and MAKES SENSE.

Stay with me here. Super-Brody was a fcuking turd. I mean, seriously, a vacationing grad who fights tigers and Somalians with body art (although he at least had magic tattoos and awesome Skrillex to account for his Wolverine constitution and fighting prowess instead of just a British accent and..."spunk" like a certain parahuman female counterpart). Who thought this was a good idea??? "Let's make a character who's relatable - he went to college, he's got a shitty girlfriend, he even has a brother in the Army - then let's turn him into a killing machine because he gets tattoos and becomes 'down' with the local populace or whatever the kids say today." Yes, that's a hell of a lot more plausible than an 80's bionic commando doing impossible things because. Surviving a fall off a mountain - tattoo Cyborg. Scanning for bad guys and tracking them through walls and ceilings - tattoo Cyborg. Eye. Scuba diving without air - tattoo Cyborg. Lung. Brody is a complete failure of suspension of disbelief whereas Rex Power Colt is the embodiment of it, and this is what makes Blood Dragon such a breath of fresh air. There's no angst or hand-wringing or guilt or reluctant "why me oh how I'm tortured by my own awesomeness and pain" bullshit in an attempt to check the games-as-art box, and precisely because of that this game IS art - a deliciously bad action movie rendered an interactive experience, not the insult to intelligence and taste that FC3 was and so many other games are. In Far Cry 3 the "doing" was far more compelling than the "being" while Blood Dragon is a seamless Terms of Enrampagement-style synthesis of both. And it's a damn shame the fun factor is knee-capped by the former game's repetitiveness.

TL/DR: Obviously I think Blood Dragon is remarkable. If you haven't played Far Cry 3 I'd skip it entirely and pick this one up if you're at all a fan of action and sci-fi culture - it might be the most droll thing you've played in a while. If you've already slugged through The Brody I'm not sure $15 would be well spent - you've already done this before, just in an exponentially less interesting and overall crappier way. They should let existing Far Cry 3 owners have it for $5.

31 Comments

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Super Moderator
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#2
See attached
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Foxiest of the Hounds
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#3
I was so close to getting Far Cry before i read this. Sounds like this is gonna be right up my alley!
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Lord Baron of Sealand
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#4
Now I can't wait. I hated Far Cry 2 (and that was getting it for free with PS+), so glad to see I can skip FC3 entirely and not miss anything here. Great review toolio!
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#5
I love you toolio, have my baby!
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Foxiest of the Hounds
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#6
Quote from Bareborn View Post :
I love you toolio, have my baby!
Uh no, take a number and get in line, I'm first!
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Schrödinger's Frog
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#7
Quote from godfather927 View Post :
I was so close to getting Far Cry before i read this. Sounds like this is gonna be right up my alley!
Same boat here. I mean, I was going to wait until I could get FC3 for $5-10ish, but my backlog is big enough I can wait for a sale on this instead.
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#8
I was reading through the comments and a couple people were saying that save games weren't working? Is it auto-checkpoint saves, or saves in general?
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Super Moderator
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#9
Quote from Samsquanch View Post :
I was reading through the comments and a couple people were saying that save games weren't working? Is it auto-checkpoint saves, or saves in general?
It isn't officially release yet, so ymmv.
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2 tickets to the gun show
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#10
Rex Power Colt sounds like a creepy(ier) Senator John McCain.
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Lord Baron of Sealand
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#11
Quote from Deusxmachina View Post :
Rex Power Colt sounds like a creepy(ier) Senator John McCain.
laugh out loud

Also, for posterity, "Power" is his nickname, not middle name. Should read Sgt. Rex "Power" Colt. nod
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XBL GT: xGuN Slinger 77
210 Reputation
#12
i actually hated the storyline of Far Cry 3 as well as the charachters but I really enjoyed A LOT of the gameplay elements.

That said, I really want to try this Blood Dragon. I hope it's not PC only though.
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Lord Baron of Sealand
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#13
Quote from Roland Deschain View Post :
That said, I really want to try this Blood Dragon. I hope it's not PC only though.
It's definitely not. Coming to XBL and PSN.

BTW, get my email about baseball?
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#14
I quitted playing this game.
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Schrödinger's Frog
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#15
Quote from fakepook View Post :
I quitted playing this game.
Whoop-de-fark?
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