Review by PTP2009

Reviewed: 07/30/13

If you loved Far Cry 3, get Blood Dragon

First of all, you should know that this is not an expansion or DLC for Far Cry 3. It is a stand-alone game that doesn't require Far Cry 3 to play.

This review assumes that you've already played Far Cry 3 and are just wondering whether or not to pick this up. The title says it all, but I'll elaborate. Just keep reading until you're either satisfied that you'll like it or see a dealbreaker, then feel free to stop.

Blood Dragon is a parody of '80s dystopian future sci-fi, such as Terminator, as well as early commando shooters like Contra. It doesn't take itself seriously and makes that extremely clear from the outset. This game is just something silly and fun that Ubisoft created with the Far Cry 3 tools. The story is simple enough, I won't even bother to summarize it.

This game is relatively short. It's just one island, no radio towers, with 13 garrisons, a handful of story missions, and an average of about 1.2 side missions per liberated outpost. However, it's priced appropriately, at only 1200 points. Since the game is so short, you level extremely quickly so that you'll make it to max level in the short time span. If you're an obsessive sidequester like me and you decide to just liberate the entire island first, you'll be fully leveled before starting the story, which is fine.

How this game differs from the main Far Cry 3:

* You start with many of your abilities (takedown, takedown drag, chained takedown, knife throw takedown, dual death from above/below, fast sprinting and swimming, grenade cook, the running slide thing) and several more are obviated by the mechanics (there's no falling damage, mounted guns don't overheat, I don't think you can drown (?), medical syringes always heal you fully, and there are no other types of syringes).
* Rather than picking new skills from a tree, the skill acquired at each level is predetermined. Half of them are extra health slots, giving you a ton of health by the end.
* Weapon upgrades become available after completing side quests, collecting enough collectables, and killing all the different kinds of animals, and all upgrades can be equipped simultaneously (except for ones that override each other, like shotgun double barrels being overridden by quad barrels, although the sniper scopes do combine).
* Animals are not skinned, instead you start with the full holster, and ammo carrying upgrades are lumped in with the weapon upgrades.
* There's only one weapon of each type, you start with most of them, and the others become available for free when they're introduced in the story.
* The side mission types are Hostage Rescue, similar to the old Wanted Dead quests but without the knife restriction, and with a hostage that they'll start shooting at if you're spotted; and Hunter's Path, where you have to kill a certain rare enemy or squad leader with a specified weapon, sort of a mix between Wanted Dead and Path of the Hunter. No Supply Drop missions or random tasks from the locals. No minigames.

The titular blood dragons are another type of wildlife, a large t-rex-like lizard with a ton of health and extremely powerful attacks, which are central to the story. When you start, they're nearly unkillable, but fortunately they have terrible eyesight so you can just walk right by them if you're crouching. You can also lure them around by their sense of smell by throwing Cyber Hearts, the hearts of the enemies which you get from looting them (apparently you don't smell like anything). The outposts have shields that repel the blood dragons, and one (very effective) way of clearing outposts is by disabling the shield from a console in the base, or destroying the shield generator (it'll respawn when you finish capturing the outpost) and letting them easily kill everyone inside. They also provide a TON of experience when killed, as well as some money, which is nice since you probably depleted your ammo killing them and will need to hit the store to restock.

One of the things I appreciate the most about this game is that even when outposts are captured, there are still enemies to encounter in the area. You'll frequently run across groups of your allies engaged in firefights with the enemies, and enemy vehicles continue to roam around in captured areas, though with less frequency. This means that the island doesn't become quite so devoid of fun like it did in the main game.

My biggest complaint with the game is the low lighting--it's that purplish darkness like from the shots of the future in Terminator. I get that it's part of the setting, but it does make it very hard to see. Fortunately, all of the enemies glow, making them very easy to see even from a distance. The real victim of the lighting is the terrain, which you really can't see at all. Fortunately for adventuring's sake, the terrain is pretty nondescript and you can generally get anywhere by just running straight there. Most of the collectables are just sitting out in the open, and the few that are underground are near very easily found cave entrances.

Many people have complained about the simplified leveling system, but I actually kind of like it. The progression of skills they give you is very reasonable, and as you undoubtedly found during the original game, the skills are alternately critical or useless, so you end up picking them up in a certain order anyway. Removing the choice removes the potential for buyer's remorse and streamlines the game.

That's all I'm going to say about it. It's fun. If you liked Far Cry 3 you'll like this, just possibly a little less if those changes bother you.

Rating: 8

Product Release: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (US, 05/01/13)

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