You are Sergeant Rex Colt: Mark IV Cyber Commando. The year is 2007 and Earth has been ravaged by a nuclear war which erupted in the 90s. The east vs. west conflict has raged for generations, and humanity continues to struggle to progress after a disastrous decade. New paths for peace must be found, and the US cyborg army may have found a solution: a powerful bioweapon on a distant island. Your mission is to gather information and figure out what the hell is going on.
Before we move onto the details of the game we have to point out that if you love 1980s action films then you should get a kick out of this game. There are so many movie references with quotes, music and visual cues that will often have you in stitches. What are some of these films? Well think Terminator, Predator, Star Wars, Cyborg, Die Hard, Rambo, Robocop and so many more. It's a blast just trying to find these references.
One difference from Far Cry 3 to Blood Dragon is that you don't start out with few weapons or ability and then build them up over time - you're an action guy right from the get go here with plenty of weapons and explosives on offer. You character can upgrade these weapons (mainly by completing side missions), but it's a simplistic mechanism of upgrading when you reach the right experience level.
In keeping with Far Cry 3 this game includes wildlife to hut, or avoid as many of these have been mutated. When playing this game I recalled a scene in an Austin Powers film where Dr. Evil talks about "Sharks with frickin' laser beams". Well, the developers of this game seem to have liked that line as this game contains Dragon's with lasers, and they're pretty friggin' awesome! These Blood Dragons not only look great but can be used to attack enemies by taking down garrison security barriers and letting them loose.
Again, I want to bring up a question about the rating on this game. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has been given an R18+ rating, which is interesting as it's essentially the same game as Far Cry 3, and while there may be a little more swearing, the enemies being shot in this game are cyborgs, not humans. Apparently the rating was awarded due to a single sex scene - but it's during a cut-scene with 16-bit visuals. Crude at best, and in our book hardly worthy of the higest rating. If anything the ratings on these two games should be reversed. Still, this isn't a game for youngsters.
It should be pointed out that several aspects that made Far Cry 3 such a comprehensive package are missing here. Gone is the level editor so there's no way to create and share maps (and there's no way to play levels created in Far Cry 3 here). The bigger omission though is that of multiplayer - this is a single player experience only which is a bit of a shame, but we have to remember this is a budget release and at $AU21.95, this remains great value. The final big omission is that of a detailed leveling up system. In this game you level up simply by experience points earned, and when you move up the level you get a set "unlock".
As with Far Cry 3 however there are occasional issues of screen-tearing, and it appears this game suffers a little more from frame rate issues, but they are rarely to the point of distraction. In keeping with the 1980s styled action and theme the cut-scenes are similar to the static, or near-static, 16-bit storytelling moments you would have found on the old SNES or Megadrive consoles. It's good, but in all honesty I would have loved a couple of high quality cut-scenes to match the production values in the gameplay sections.
Dialogue is a key component of this game and Michael Biehn has been hired to voice Sergeant Rex Colt. He has plenty to say during the game too, not only in the cut scenes, but also after taking down enemies, completing mission objectives or talking to others. The dialogue is often (deliberately) groan-worthy, but perfectly suited to the 1980s action film era which makes it a big positive to setting the "vibe" for this game.
For the price of a pub meal Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a fantastic title. If you're a fan of 1980s action films (think Schwarzenegger in particular) then this is pretty much a no brainer - it's a fantastic game, with a fantastic sense of humour and technically polished as well. We love it.
Review By: Dave Warner