Replay Review: Far Cry Blood Dragon | ThinkCreatePlay

Replay Review: Far Cry Blood Dragon

Today, I sit here writing this review and my opinions have been changed yet again, although not nearly as dramatically as they had before.
I’ll start off by pointing out that anyone who has seen the trailers and previews for Blood Dragon knows exactly what to expect, it’s an over the top tribute to action films of the 80′s, skinned over the top of the Far Cry 3 engine. Thanks to this engine, the game naturally looks pretty. But instead of the lovely island we had before, with beautiful sunsets, gorgeous skies, and lavish greenery. We now have a rather purple world, almost as if you’re looking through a 1980′s VR simulator, with the purple broken up by bright orange explosions, the bright colours of the clothes of your enemies, their ripped out hearts, or the skins on dragons. It can be a little odd when you first look at it, in much the same way I find it odd to look at the myriad of FPS games set in world war 2 that were nothing but layer upon layer of brown. Possibly this was a shot at that, more than likely it was a stylistic choice. But regardless of the reasoning, by the end of the tutorial it’s something you don’t really notice.
Outside of the purple overlay that the game has, everything else in the graphics department is what you should expect from a stand alone downloadable game. There nice touches that help the game maintain the illusion of an 80′s game. Cutscenes are delivered in animated comics that wouldn’t be out of place ending levels of the original Duke Nukem, they may be more 16-bit than the 8-bit 80′s setting, but they do the job they’re there for. Loading screens are change to a 4:3 screen ratio as the screen fills with static and a ‘tracking’ bar pops up at the bottom to tune your TV back in. Everything adds to the over all experience, even if nothing feels truly incredible. The sound effects though are a different story, but in a good way. They really excel.
Blood Dragon cutscene
The cutscenes are a nice throwback to a bygone gaming era
This game lives and dies with it’s sounds. If this game had no voice overs, main character Rex Colt would read as an obnoxious git. If there wasn’t music playing in certain parts of the game, it would feel just like any other shooter. There are dozens of moments in the game where the voice overs, and the way lines are delivered just make you think to yourself that you could see this game being a film from the 80′s.
Other little sound bits offer nods to the past too. As you start your tutorial you have to chain gun your way through a base from a helicopter as music plays very loudly, the music of choice? Tutti Frutti by Little Richard. Later on, in the same area, the background music becomes very very reminiscent of the theme from Terminator, and as you get ready to do your first task a security alarm informs you that ‘You have 20 seconds to comply’ in the same tone as ED-209.
Outside of the direct references to the past, there’s plenty more to be found. In the 80′s there wasn’t an action film around that didn’t involve the protagonist swearing allegiance to Lady Liberty and the United States. Best friends died and made lead characters promise to give loved ones messages more often than Jason Vorhees punished promiscuous teenagers. This game includes both of those movie staples, infact swearing allegiance to the United States is reworded and worked into Rex Colts script in most of his cut scenes where he’s asked to do anything slightly dangerous. It seems silly to hear it repeated all the time, but for those of us who saw films from the generation being aped. It’s not exactly a bad representation of your average script.
Away from the cutscenes and big dialogue sections at the end and start of levels, Rex Colt is given plenty to say delivering terrible one liners every few seconds as you take out your enemies. You’ll often hear quips about C4 delivering the sort of blow job you want, or an enemy who shot his mouth off. Shoot someone with your bow and you can make them ‘get the point’, it’s all terribly cliché and all delivered really well by the voice acting of Michael Biehn, who starred in a few movies himself in the 80′s that this game makes the odd nod too. It’s fair to say, that the script of the game is the biggest reference to the decade the game is trying to ape, and as such is possibly the most important part too and this game nailed it.

The last main section I need to talk about, is the gameplay. How does the game play? Pretty well. Does it break the mould? no. Does it do anything new? That’s not the point of the game. Does it succeed at what it’s trying to do? For the most part. Is it worth the money? Kind of.
The game feels like an expansion of Far Cry 3, and for that reason you know the game plays well. Shooting mechanics are solid, close combat is violent, driving is fun, hang gliders are great and controls in general are smooth. Whilst feeling like an expansion of Far Cry, it also does a great job of feeling different. The constant tips of the hat to the VHS era are great, and certain parts like the music montage are genuinely awesome.
The game has side quests, just like Far Cry 3, which are down to hunting animals or saving prisoners. Both varieties are very short, but fun. The enemies aren’t stupid, they will seek cover when trying to kill you, but can be easily drawn out and more than once I was able to bottleneck entire armies and take them all out. The enemy varieties aren’t exactly massive. We have standard soldiers, snipers, soldiers with flame throwers, some with chain guns, and some with just knives, their appearance changes a little depending on what weapon they have but it would have been nice to see a bit more of a difference, especially between the soldiers you meet inside and outside of the bases.
The Blood Dragons, the massive lizards with luminescent teeth and blood lines on their body are a pretty good strategic addition to the game. They never really play the part in the game I was expecting, but the ability to throw bait for them into an enemy compound and watch as it goes and destroys the enemy for you is a welcome change from just going in guns blazing, or sneaking around with a bow and arrow. The Blood Dragons, along with some of the Far Cry staples like chain kills and death from above provide some truly great moments in the game.
However, it feels like the game is over too quickly. Right now, the game is on Steam for pre-order priced at £11.99, it’s not the priciest game in the world. But It’s not the best value when you know you can blow through the story in just 3 hours. Determined to experience as much of the game as possible for this review, I decided that completing the main game should be my main objective. I had a lot of fun doing it. I liberated garrisons, I saved scientists, I avenged friends and I went through coliseum like events towards the end. However, just before I took on these Coliseum like segments, I was informed that if I went through the doorway ahead, I would not be able to come back to the open world until I had killed head bad guy, General Sloan. I was shocked, I’d totalled just over 2 hours by this point, I expected a fair bit more and was expecting that this next segment would a bit longer.
What followed was disappointing. I won’t spoil it for anyone, because it is genuinely fun, but in the next hour we manage to get the games main weapon, having a thrilling shootout from a much different perspective to the rest of the game and then we see Sloan, and the game ends. That’s the disappointing part. There’s no final boss battle. You may remember Boss Battles from Far Cry 3 were weird hallucinogen filled dreams, they were weird quick time events, a bit easy, but they were boss battles. Blood Dragon doesn’t have that. Instead, after arriving at Sloans location at the conclusion of the thrilling and explosive final section, complete with Nuclear Warhead fireworks, the game goes in to a cut scene. Where you see the end of the game acted out for you in another 16-bit style comic. It a double blow of disappointment for me.
I’m not expecting 40 hours of gameplay here. But I’d hope for more than 3, and I’d certainly hope for a greater resolution to the story than a cutscene that takes all the control out of it for me. I felt short changed when the credits rolled. After the credits finish, you are given a chance to go back to the island with the games ultimate weapon and finish your side missions of hunting animals and saving scientists, as well as liberating the last few garrisons. They’re fun little additions, but you could knock all of it out in just over an hour. I know, because I did.

In a way, It’s nice to have a game that I enjoyed enough that I was left wanting more. It’s just a shame that it was due to the price as much as the content. Had this game come in under £10, I’d have probably thought it good value. Going over that £10 threshold though usually leaves me, and like minded people, expecting something a bit more than an add on. A little more than a couple of hours of content.
It really is my only big gripe with the game. The voice acting can get a little repetitive, and some of the one liners repeat way to often and can become a bit annoying. The Blood Dragons that the game gets it’s name from can be pretty much completely avoided in most sections. Even later on when they have brain cages, they can have them shot off to turn them on your enemies leaving you free to leave. There’s no real urgency when fighting them after you’ve found out the best way to do it, which is pretty much given to you in a tutorial.
Both of those last issues though are small, and don’t take away from the enjoyment of the game. The price is something though that I just can’t help but feel that it leaves a bad taste.
Regardless though, the game is enjoyable and those of you who can’t wait to get a bit more Far Cry action, or are more eager to get to 1985 than Marty McFly you will find a lot to enjoy here. Whether it’s enough to justify the price though will be for you to decide.
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