For anyone who’s used to flicking on appalling Eighties sci-fi movies on their TVs during ungodly hours, or those who used to make dreadful mistakes in renting Jean-Claude Van Damme VHSs back when that was a thing, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a richly relevant send-up.
You’re cast as Sergeant Rex Power Colt, a badass soldier voiced by the most thematically appropriate of actors: Michael Biehn.
After being betrayed early on, you’re thrown into a huge futuristic-via-the-Eighties world roamed by blood dragons, giant shiny dinosaurs that hunt down anything alive while you make tactical assaults on military bases.
It’s all played thoroughly for laughs, meaning that Blood Dragon‘s relentless sense of irony and commitment to its choice target of parody makes it a far more valuable purchase than the more straight-faced shooters out there.
If you never played Far Cry 3, don’t worry about the prefix on Blood Dragon‘s title. This is a totally standalone open world shooter that hits every note just right – the garish art direction recalls questionable films like Battlefield Earth, the electro soundtrack has a ludicrous fistpumping energy to it and most importantly, Ubisoft doesn’t use its dreadful sources as an excuse for limp game design.
Based on Far Cry 3‘s template of quick burst exploration and conquering, this is a microcosm of that title’s well-regarded freeform experience, with the added spectacle of watching massive lizards wage war with sci-fi soldiers.
The missions get progressively better, too, with more ambitious set pieces and the onset of colourful hordes of cyber-animals.
The cutscenes are Blood Dragon‘s secret stength, though. Presented in a kind of early CD-ROM era style with deliberately poor voice-acting and a silly script, it’s actually very funny, right down to details like masculine soldier handshakes where muscles instantly tense or outrageous cornball dialogue that speaks of a real love for the original low-budget material.
Despite its ties to the bigger Far Cry series, then, Blood Dragon is a real one-off where its very existence is a pleasant surprise, as well as great counter-programming to shooters that take themselves far too seriously without the credibility to back them up.