Failing to fall in love with this old-school slice of (intentionally) nonsense standalone DLC probably gets you lumped in with people who can’t see the point in Instagram, or pine for the days when moustaches weren’t ironic. Blood Dragon has been designed to appeal to gaming hipsters to such an extent you can easily imagine that one step in the development process was to go through a checklist of popular internet memes one by one.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon PS3 review
Thankfully, on the humour front at least, it’s a success. The whole thing is soaked in ’80s nostalgia, from the VHS ‘tracking’ bar that comes up during loading screens to the static, pixelated cut-scenes, to the dialogue – which has been taken from the most poorly scripted Van Damme movie you can imagine, and then taken down a peg or two. The whole thing is self-referential, self-effacing and deliberately off-the-charts stupid. But it’s all done with an intelligence that means few recent games have delivered so many laughs. From the opening tutorial (“To look around, look around”), to your character’s one-liners, to the atrociously animated sex scene, the vast majority of the funnies are actually that.
However, saturating the whole thing in the tropes of days gone by has a detrimental effect on Far Cry 3’s brilliance as an actual game. You guide Sergeant Rex Colt through a bastardised, miniaturised version of Rook Islands in an attempt to stop your former army Colonel who’s gone rogue, capturing garrisons and sabotaging key locations. The whole thing is set in the future, post-apocalyptic world of 2007, and scientific experiments mean that huge robotic lizards stalk the landscape.
What also stalks the landscape is dinginess. The scorched sky that remains after a global nuclear war makes the whole thing oppressively dark, instantly removing the exploratory joy and constant appreciation of your environment that was such a big part of the main game. Combat is also now largely forced indoors, and the corridors in which you fight are in no way as liberating or ripe for experimentation as before.
Then there’s the main problem: the audio. Although the actual music is excellent (and era-authentic), the rest of the sound design is atrocious. Guns no longer feel like they have any real impact, there’s no sense of urgency during firefights, and it’s nigh-on impossible to make out what your cyborg enemies are saying. Admittedly they’re unlikely to be spouting philosophical bon mots, but not being able to decipher their words means you can’t tell if your cover’s been blown – a big letdown given the game’s otherwise excellent stealth system.
Blood Dragon is supposed to be a big,
dumb slice of mindless retro nonsense, and ridicules the trends of the times brilliantly
Blood Dragon is supposed to be a big, dumb slice of mindless retro nonsense, and it is. Ensconced in decades gone by, it includes and ridicules the trends of the times brilliantly. However many of those trends were dispensed with for a reason, and resurrecting them reanimates many of the same problems. In gameplay terms this is a distinct step down from Far Cry 3 itself – DLC should enhance the core game, not make you pine for it – while from an experiential perspective, the trouble with setting out to make something disposable is that, even when you’ve done your job well, you’re left with exactly that.
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