Well, this was unexpected. Over the course of just a few days, I burned through nearly everything Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon had to offer, and I loved every minute of it. Well, just about. Trying to kill a cyber-shark with a grenade was tedious and based around luck, and some of the “save the scientist” side missions required too much perfect planning to pull off effectively, but otherwise–this was a whole lot of fun. And yes, I find that very strange, considering I’ve never wanted anything to do with the mainstay Far Cry franchise, even the newest one that Blood Dragon takes its engine and mechanics from.
The crazy, totally 1980s-influenced story goes a little like this: Rex Powercolt, a Mark IV Cyber Commando, is on a mission to save the world from the corrupt and evildoings of Colonel Ike Sloan and his Omega Squad. This all takes place in a post-Vietnam War II world, brimming with neon and enhanced super soldiers, as well as a dragon or two. To stop Sloan, Powercolt must go on an epic quest of killing, sneaking, commandeering, and straight-up loving, becoming the badass super soldier he was constructed to be. It’s a bombastic story, but one backed by history, and if you have an appreciation for the genre and era, as I do, having been a boy that watched every single American Ninja film that came out, it’s wonderfully delightful without being stupidly cheesy.
I downloaded Blood Dragon because it was not Far Cry 3, and by that I mean, sure, it looked visually different from the green-and-blue tropical jungle setting where tigers roam and waterfalls fall, but it also wasn’t focused on shooting real people/animals with real guns in a realistic manner, something I have an aversion to. I’d rather shoot super soldiers with a laser beam powered by the amount of health bars I have. It’s not an expansion or piece of DLC; it’s an appetizing, alternate take on sound mechanics, for those that grew up in an era when action heroes spoke gruffly and took on the seemingly impossible. Oh, and all that is backed by a throbbing, synth-heavy soundtrack, that spasms and perfectly sets the mood and kicks into action whenever Powercolt himself, well, kicks into action.
Like a delicious mix of Fallout 3 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Blood Dragon lets you both run into scenarios guns blazing or be a sneaky, stealthy ninja, taking down enemy soldier quietly from the shadows. Naturally, I prefer the latter until shit hits the fan, and then it’s easy enough to mow enemies down and still be standing at the end of it thanks to an overwhelmingly generous healing system. Easy, but not as much fun. Stealth options include silent kills from behind, attacks from above, bow and arrows, and so on, and you can even chain a stealth kill to another using a throwing star. Tricky to pull off, but when it does, you really feel like a commando that knows the game. When you tag an enemy, you can track their movements, even through walls, which I loved and gave me a bizarre sense of comfort and security, just at least knowing where everyone was in the building.
Truthfully, I was surprised how short and to the point the main story missions in Blood Dragon were. I think there was six or seven of them total, and they aren’t anything more than go here, shoot stuff, protect this guy, shoot stuff, shoot stuff, ride this thing, and shoot more stuff. The real fun, at least for me, is in exploring the island and the side stuff, collecting VHS tapes and TV sets, all of which do factor into unlocking new gear and upgrades. You can buy maps that tell you where each collectible is, and you just have to work out how to get there. Commandeering the garrisons is the real meat of the side activity work, and I would often spend upwards of half an hour trying to take one as quietly as possible; the key is to first destroy the alarm system, so no reinforcements can be called in. They also work as quick travel spots when they become yours, which makes moving around the map much swifter.
Hmm. Let’s see. There are still a couple of Trophies left to unlock, but I think I could really only get two more of them. Can’t remember which enemies I have “headshotted” and which I haven’t, so I will just stick to killing a few more dragons, earning some coin, and buying the rest of the weapon upgrades before finally putting Blood Dragon to bed for good. I may not be looking forward to the next installment in the Far Cry franchise, but I am looking forward to whatever weird, offbeat spin-off comes from it.