More Entertaining Than:
Duke Nukem Forever
Less Entertaining Than:
-plenty of humour
-relentless action sequences
-chock full of explosions
-occasionally slow and unmanageable controls
-game doesn’t save during missions
Rating (out of ten): 9.5
Synopsis: This is quite possibly one of the single most stupidest games I have ever played; I loved every minute of it.
Move over Jon St. John, Michael Biehn is here to command the screen as one of the most humorous action heroes in video gaming.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon has absolutely nothing to do with the game that this mod is crafted from – with the exception that it is set on an island. Based upon the old retro oriented games in the ‘80s where ideas on post-apocalyptic futures commanded by mechanical-cyborg organisms were postulated, Ubisoft uses this connotation and completely takes the piss out of it to create a riveting action experience.
Set in 2007 after a terrifying war between Russia and the U.S has left Canada completely irradiated from nuclear warfare and Australia invaded by enemy troops, the world is attempting to come to terms with the word ‘peace’, which seems to be something that may in fact never come to fruition. To fight these wars, humans, who are brought back to life as war machines, are commanded to annihilate the enemy with extreme prejudice. Kind of gives new meaning to the term ‘no rest for the wicked.’
The character the player takes control over, Rex Power Colt, is a Mac IV soldier. With the hiring of Michael Biehn (Terminator, Aliens, the Abyss, et al) to voice the central protagonist, Ubisoft is apparently attempting to accentuate a futurist type of feel to the game and the use of music that is similar to that of the terminator soundtrack further empowers this ideal. Mr. Biehn does a flawless job at voicing the character, his voice being incredibly husky and coming out in a growl and the sheer patriotism of his character is further empowered by such talented voice acting.
Moving on, Rex has been replaced with the all new Mac V, a tougher, more advanced killing machine. This however does not necessarily mean that he has been disposed of; the U.S does not remove what they can still use. After a threat is discovered on an island, Rex and his fellow Mac IV, T.T (Spider) Brown are sent in to exterminate the enemy.
As a Mac IV, Rex comes attached with many benefits that the human body is yet to master. For one, Rex can survive basically any fall, whether it be from ten meters or ten thousand. Moreover, he can hold his breath under water for an indefinite amount of time and can run impeccably fast without having to take a moment of pause.
The cinematics displayed between levels are reminiscent of a comic book and those familiar with Star Hawk may see some resemblance here. The graphics in these movies have been purposefully designed to have an ‘80s appearance to them, much like the arcade games that this particular title is loosely based upon. Although these cinematics are nothing terribly special, they certainly get the job done in showing the audience what is happening.
The game begins with an amazing aerial battle in which almost every single thing is capable of being blasted into oblivion, before you land and continue the battle on foot. It is now that the tutorial begins, thanks to your good friend Spider who believes you are in need of a basic refresher. Right from the start when the tutorial states ‘running is like walking, only faster’ you genuinely know this is not going to be a serious experience. On top of this, your character is prone to spout some pretty humorous one-liners. Shoot a man in the head and it’s either ‘he’s heading for hell’ or ‘now that’s my kind of head job.’ Wield a shotgun and it’s ‘he called shotgun’, use a grenade and it’s ‘I like the part when they blow up.’ The lines are endless and even after they have been repeated several times they never grow old. Furthermore, Rex will additionally have quite comical conversations on occasion with his HUD, who proves to be quite an annoying specimen over the course of the campaign.
Rex immediately has the ability to assassinate enemies and execute chian kills. Additionally, one is able to assassinate an enemy and then toss a ninja star at their next unsuspecting opponent just to change things up a bit. On top of this, the player begins the game with a pretty impressive arsenal of kick ass weaponry, including a semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, an assault rifle that fires lasers and a sniper rifle. For me, the sniper rifle handled much like a double-decker bus and half the time when I held down the sights I was barely able to hit the target, let alone what happened to be behind it. Then again, maybe this was just my general incompetence. After all, the game did say in the statistics that me general aim was worth a whopping 15%. Not exactly something worth throwing a party over now, is it?
Each weapon in the game can be upgraded at stations found in camps (which shall be discussed later), these upgrades including anything from the ability to carry more ammunition, a larger magazine, silencers, etc. Later during the game, the player will have access to other weapons which are reflective of the fire power found in the game this mod is based upon, including a bow (which is far more impressive than the one in Far Cry 3), a flame thrower and an alternate version of the original assault rifle, just to name a few. Of course, the one weapon that you, much like myself, will probably come to love the most is the minigun, however this weapon is unable to receive upgrades. Then again, why would it need to when it kicks ass just fine without any.
On top of this, the player has access to the usual grenades, Molotov cocktails, mines, etc. These do some impeccable damage, however seem to take an unfathomable amount of time to throw. If you wish to launch a couple, one after another, you will find that the game will not respond at an adequate speed, which proves to be a little annoying. Adjunctively, the weapon wheel takes some time to master and half the time the player may incidentally select something that they never wanted in the first place, from acquiring the wrong weapon, to, more than likely, incidentally exchanging their secondary weapon (grenade) for an alternate explosive ordinance.
Moreover, much like in Far Cry 3, the player is able to level up and become stronger, the game allowing the player to reach the rank of level 30. Unlike in Far Cry 3 where the player had the option of choosing what skills they gained after levelling up, the game does this automatically. Each level provides the character with a new skill, whether that be moving faster whilst crouching; the ability to drop down on unsuspecting prey; the ability to reload whilst moving, etc. Additionally, almost every second level the player reaches will increase the player’s health by one slot. Trust me when I tell you; you are going to need it!
By the end of the first mission, the player discovers the ruthless antagonist who runs the island is none other than Rex’s former leader; a champion Colonel named Ike Sloan; a patriot turned delusional nutcase who believes that bringing death and destruction to the world is the only way to facilitate peace. But we’re not gonna let him go through with this plan, are we? No! I’ll tell you what we are going to do! We are going to blow him! Wait, that didn’t sound right. Let’s try that again; we are going to blow him away! (Better).
After meeting Colonel Sloan, who realises that Rex will not co-operate, he apparently decides that it will be reasonably hilarious to throw him into a Blood Dragon pit. It is here that the game acquires its name. The Blood Dragons are incredibly dangerous monsters that are nearly invulnerable to harm. Although their eyesight is reasonably deteriorated, they can track their enemy efficaciously with their other sensors. Immune to fire and capable of discharging a radioactive beam of energy from their mouths that causes massive trauma upon their victims, the only thing that is capable of temporarily acquiring the attention of these vile brutes are the hearts of fallen cyborgs. Much like in Far Cry 3 where one could loot the bodies of the dead, in this particular title, Rex will rip the hearts out from enemies and use these to distract the Dragons who will more often than not run in the direction of the food and gobble it up quick smart. Such a tactic can additionally be used to lure the dragons towards enemy cyborgs and have the two duke it out. More challenging however are the Dragons that are successfully under Sloan’s command via a device on their heads that identifies his men as friendly units, which such Dragons will not dare attack. These particular monsters are invulnerable to the lure of cyborg hearts; of course, if one were to shoot at the coupling device that keeps them as Sloan’s bitches; yeah, you see what I’m getting at!
However, much like with the weapon wheel, attempting to lure the Dragons is no easy task. On the XBOX controller, the button used to lure the Dragons is on the left of the D-pad. Why is this so much trouble you might ask? Well, the top of the D-pad is reserved for the binoculars. This particular device allows the player to zoom in and see everything in infra-red. Even enemies hiding beneath the water can be efficaciously seen. The button on the right moreover is used to toss dice, that will temporarily distract cyborg opponents. My point here is that although I hit the left side of the D-pad, I more often than not inadvertently activated the binoculars when attempting to toss hearts out at the Dragons, which significantly impaired my ability to survive, and when you are, for instance, going up against two Dragons at once, which later happens during the game (in a rather enclosed space mind you) this can become considerably annoying. Safe to assume a few choice words will no doubt be said during these moments.
Of course, it is not just Blood Dragons that the player will need to look out for, with Ubisoft having a few extra surprises in store for the player…
Furthermore, it is from this moment on that Rex works alongside Dr. Elizabeth V. Darling, a scientist who worked with Sloan who has realised how deranged he is and has turned against him in an attempt to halter his madness. The six major quests that the player undertakes (after the original, bringing the total count to seven) are provided to Rex by the good doctor who assists him in helping to take down Sloan.
Although quintessentially an action experience, it is from now on that the player is given leeway to explore the island. Much like in Far Cry 3 there are enemy encampments which the player can capture and thus make their own. Of course, much like in Far Cry 3 also, enemies at these camps can call in additional strike teams to suppress your attempt to take out the enemy stronghold. Once captured, the player will have access to the weapon station (as mentioned previously). However, not all weapon upgrades will immediately appear and thus need to be unlocked by completing side quests that appear at the camps which have been captured. These come in two flavours; one is the stereotypical hunt down a particular animal quest, which was found in the game this mod is based upon. Unlike Far Cry 3 where the game was blatantly cruel to animals (half the missions involving the killing of animals I never bothered to undertake because they made me feel sick at the thought of hurting sweet, sweet creatures), in this game the animals are all cyborgs, much like your opponents. Cyber sharks, alligators, dogs, tigers; you name it, they are, all of them, either robotic in nature, or in serious disrepair (take a look at the goats and you’ll see what I mean) which means that killing them will probably not cause any great deal of distress. The other mission variation available to the player is to save a nerd. In each quest, a nerd has been captured and needs to be rescued. Although the game recommends the player does this stealthily, you can actually be as raucously loud as you wish. Go in all guns blazing; I certainly did most all the time. The nerd however can only sustain so much damage before they expire so it is recommended that you eliminate the enemy post haste.
As for the main quests on the other hand, these are often random acts of incredible violence, with enough action and explosions for several video games. These include anything from decimating a hydro-electric dam; descending into the depths of a Blood Dragon research facility and even making one’s way into an alternate world (no kidding!) which players may find symbolic of one particular moment from Far Cry 3. Each mission ends with a relatively challenging scenario that is sure to test the player’s genuine skill, but the real test of one’s skill is their patience. Although missions checkpoint, much like in Far Cry 3, they do not save. The game can only be saved when the player is not on any mission. Whilst undertaking a job, Rex must successfully complete it, for if the player quits during a quest, all of their progress will be cancelled, so when the player returns, they will be forced to grudgingly do everything all over again.
Upon reaching the sixth mission moreover, the player will no longer be allowed to explore the island again until successful completion of the main campaign, so be sure to be stocked up before moving forward marine! As for the ending; if I could use one word to describe it, it would be this; SPECTACULAR!
Filled to the brim with action, suspense, sex, humour and more fire power than you could possibly poke a stick at, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is not just the kind of mod that you simply must play; it’s the kind of mod the Far Cry 3 should have been in the first place. A worthy instalment for any action gaming fan!