Remember my Far Cry 3 review? Yeah, me neither. We really need to quit drinking. Anyway, the game now has a standalone DLC that’s different enough from the base game to merit its own review (though all the controls and stuff are the same as Far Cry 3). It’s an insane little piece of neon-tinted nostalgia that drills a warm, fuzzy little hole in your brain. I’ll explain that sentence later.
Remember the 80s? Yeah, me neither. I’d venture a guess that those most likely to pick Blood Dragon up are those with little to no actual experience with the time period, either being born in the late half of the decade or popping out sometime in the 90s, fashionably late. Nonetheless, we all have experience of some sort with 80s action heroes. You know the type. The kind of action heroes who always win against impossible odds and act like it’s no big deal. The kind who have unlimited ammunition and immaculate aim. The kind who throw out one-liners like clowns throw candy from parade floats.
This is that, only turned up to 11 and thrown into a blender with glow sticks. The story can barely be called a story, instead being a bunch of loose excuses to run around shooting up places. There’s no subtlety, no shades of grey; in Blood Dragon, you’re the good guy and you have to kill the bad guy (and everyone standing between the two of you, obviously). It’s just that simple. The lack of an actual story doesn’t undermine the fact that this is a hilariously over-the-top homage to the insanity and cheesiness of the decade’s action movies, though. The whole thing works, not only because it’s smile-inducingly weird at times, but also because it’s short. Completionists will get something between 7 to 9 hours out of the game, while those who rush through the main story could very well complete it in a single sitting.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. Blood Dragon is so over the top in every way that being any longer than it currently is would mean overstaying its welcome and becoming grating rather than fun. As it is, it’s just about the perfect length. Any longer and the humor would just become annoying; I finished in something like 8 hours—with that time including some mindless wandering to see the sights—and had grown seriously tired of the headshot one-liners. Main character Rex Power Colt has a tendency to use one-liners specific to the way you finish off your enemies, so sticking to one style of play on a completionist playthrough can mean hearing the same ones over and over and over and over and over. It’s for the best that this game isn’t any longer than it is, because even the humorous loading screens (which are amazing at first) begin to repeat to the point where you get sick of them. Jokes cease to be funny the fiftieth time.
In fact, Blood Dragon should be even shorter. There’s a section toward the end where you have to fight a bunch of undead enemies, and this mandatory part of the game proves to be quite annoying. I’ll never play through this game again because of it, because you’re no longer able to choose your weapons for yourself. Through the whole game you’re given the opportunity to improve your weapons and choose what to carry for each mission, and then at the end you’re suddenly railroaded into fighting a bunch of enemies (who mindlessly run at you) with the weapons that the game decides to give you. It’s stupid and frustrating to suddenly force you to use a predetermined weapon, and trying to figure out how to best use an unfamiliar weapon while being charged at by hordes of the undead is not exactly the game’s best moment. Surely this could have been replaced or changed for the better, because it really is awful.
Despite that bit of stupidity, almost everything else is solid. Taking over bases (garrisons, whatever) is still as fun as it is in Far Cry 3, watching random fights between “your guys” and “the enemies” that you’re not even a part of is always entertaining, and fighting Blood Dragons (tough dinosaur-esque enemies that shoot lasers out of their eyes) is always fun. The only reason I say “almost” everything is solid is because of the animal attacks, which return from the base game. The game is dark and neon-colored, which is a nice visual effect, but it makes the “don’t die” QTEs (quick time events) difficult to see compared to in Far Cry 3. Here’s an example where the crazy colors conspire to make me fail by making it difficult to tell which key to mash:
The minor quests are far better than in Far Cry 3, with amusingly-written explanations of why you have to go save a hostage scientist or hunt an animal/person. There are just enough sidequests for them all to seem varied despite all being quite similar as far as their goals go, and many of them subtly reference pop culture stuff and hit that warm and fuzzy nostalgia spot. In one sidequest, for example, you have to go down into some sewers and kill four turtles who are, according to the game, “befriending rats.” Once you’re down there you’ll find pizza boxes littered all over. If you don’t understand the obvious reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then I seriously pity you.
Remember when I said that I’d explain my whole “neon-tinted nostalgia drilling a hole in your brain” comment? Yeah. This game is totally neon and brain-damaging. I mean, just look at the screenshots. The unmitigated flurry of colors was fatiguing at first, but then I got used to it. The neon became fatiguing again toward the end of my playthrough, though; Blood Dragon can be very overwhelming because of the perpetual night (there’s no daytime) mixed with its blinding blues and purples and reds shining all over. It’s really a migraine just waiting to happen. The mixture of colors makes for a unique art style, but that certainly proves to be a mixed blessing in the end. As for the music… it fits the game, but I never really noticed it. I really dislike that whole “synthy-equals-futuristic” style of music in games, but it actually has a totally legitimate purpose existing in this game. I just don’t remember any of it because that style is so indistinct.
Here’s what you should do: