Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon for PC Review

Check out our video review:

Far Cry 3 is the one that turned things around for the franchise. It was the winning formula, a very successful title for Ubisoft. According the internet, at the time, Ubisoft was experimenting with a new approach to downloadable content. They experimented with The Tyranny of King Washington which is DLC for Assassin’s Creed III and wanted to continue with a similar approach to Far Cry 3. Long story short, the end result was Blood Dragon which is considered a standalone expansion as in you don’t need Far Cry 3 to play it. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was released for PlayStation 3 in April, 2013 and Xbox 360 and PC in May of that same year. A remastered version was included in the season pass for Far Cry 6 and a standalone version titled Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Classic Edition was released for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in December, 2021 and Stadia in July, 2022. For this review, I played the PC version of the original game.

Blood Dragon is a retro-futuristic parody of 1980’s media including action movies, cartoons and games. The player assumes the role of Cyborg Sergeant Rex “Power” Colt who is sent to an unnamed island to investigate Colonel Sloan who has gone rogue. What really makes the plot stand out is the campiness, humor and presentation. It’s presented like an “80s VHS vision of the future” which means scanlines, a lot of neon lights and a synthwave soundtrack. Those familiar with 80’s media should certainly be able to identify the many cultural references. There are nods to The Terminator, Aliens, Predator, Transformers, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among others. Rex is voiced by actor Michael Biehn who delivers a lot of hammy one-liners. Ultimately, I thought the plot was pretty good. The cut scenes are presented in a slideshow animation format and it’s the humor and aesthetics that really drive the experience.

If you strip away the Blood Dragon coat of paint, the game feels very much like a watered down Far Cry 3. Most of the mechanics are identical and the formula is very similar. It just doesn’t have as much content. You complete missions to advance the story but can ignore the story at any time to explore, find collectibles and complete side missions to unlock stuff and there is no crafting. There’s nothing like Radio Towers here so the entire map is revealed from the start and instead of outposts, the world is filled with Garrisons to liberate. You do earn experience or what the game calls Cyber-Points, and when you earn enough you level up and are awarded skills. The skills are carried over from Far Cry 3 and several are unlocked from the get-go. You cannot manually activate or unlock skills in Blood Dragon. Instead, you are awarded specific skills at certain levels. One thing I don’t really care for is how the game handles the opening tutorial. The game goes out of its way to make fun of how annoying tutorials can be but proceeds to force you through one. It should have been optional.

Blood Dragon features several futuristic styled weapons and several can be equipped with different attachments and upgrades that need to be unlocked before they can be purchased. Every Garrison you liberate comes with side missions including Hostage Rescue and Predator’s Path which can be initiated from Adventure Cabinets. Hostage Rescue missions requires you to rescue a scientist or nerd and Predator’s Path missions require you to kill a rare animal or specific enemy. Completing these does unlock specific weapon upgrades but some are unlocked by meeting certain requirements like by completing certain missions and finding a specific amount of a certain collectible. Each Garrison also comes with a store where you can purchase any unlocked weapon attachments along with ammo among some other things.

I can’t say the world here feels as alive as that of Rook Islands from Far Cry 3 but this is supposed to be a dystopian future so it does make sense. Vehicles, boats, and jet skis among other methods of transportation can be found all over the island. Some animals do roam around the world along with friendlies and enemies, and you’ll often come across them shooting at each other or trying to fend off Blood Dragons. These are large dragons that can fire laser beams from their eyes. It’s pretty cool. They are dangerous but can prove to be helpful. You can pilfer bodies for not only loot and credits but also Cyber-Hearts which can be thrown to distract or lure Blood Dragons to specific locations including Garrisons. And watching a Blood Dragon clear out a Garrison for you never gets old.

The primary enemy faction in the game is Omega Force and the enemies come in different types which are basically the same types as those in Far Cry 3. Stealth works the same way and it’s still fun sneaking around and performing takedowns and silently dropping foes with arrows from your bow. The gunplay does feel great and some of the upgrades and attachments truly make you a force to be reckoned with. The Galleria 1991 is a shotgun that can be upgraded to a quadruple barrel and if you unlock and purchase the fire rounds for it, it becomes a real beast of a weapon. With the right weapons and upgrades, you can decimate multiple foes quickly and easily and even blow off their heads which can be quite satisfying.

I think one of my biggest complaints with Blood Dragon is that it’s way too short. You can get through the story in a single sitting and outside of that, there’s not much to do except liberate Garrisons. And, yes, you can reset all Garrisons to their hostile state if necessary. The campaign is action-packed and just like Far Cry 3, you typically have the option to approach situations however you see fit. This applies to Garrisons as well. You can go in all guns blazing, eliminate foes quietly, or even let Blood Dragons do the work for you. The campaign missions are linear and consist of typical run-and-gun first-person shooter action and Far Cry’s brand of stealth with a few on-rails shooter sequences peppered throughout. And there’s a really cool set piece where you get to utilize a Battle Armored Dragon Assault Strike System (B.A.D.A.S.S.) or in other words ride a cybernetically enhanced Blood Dragon and use its firepower to lay waste to all enemies in your path.

Visually, I think the presentation nails that “80’s vision of the future” the developers were aiming for. It’s very slick with a lot of bright neon lights, dark clouds loom overhead and lighting frequently rips through the sky. The gloomy and ominous world helps create a tone and atmosphere that I feel is a perfect fit for the story and theme. Outside of the unique aesthetics, Blood Dragon’s visual fidelity is basically on par with that of Far Cry 3. The music is also amazing. The soundtrack was composed by Power Glove and consists of a lot of awesome tunes that perfectly fit the style and tone of the game. On the technical side, I did not encounter any serious issues. I should mention that I did consult the game’s PCGamingWiki page before playing and made some tweaks. The game does come with some issues and eyesores that can be rectified.

I had a blast with Blood Dragon but I do wish there was more to it. As a fan of 80’s action movies, I had great time in the company of Michael Biehn and enjoyed the numerous nods to many of the films I love. As for the gameplay, the fun comes from the story and liberating the Garrisons. Other than that, it doesn’t offer much which is a shame because I love the world the developers created here. It’s fun getting into firefights and seeing lasers whiz past your head. It’s fun coming across friendlies and enemies engaged in a battle in the world and seeing Blood Dragons kill people. That kind of stuff is awesome. The futuristic stuff is awesome. And it all comes to an end way too soon. It really is the style and aesthetics that carry Blood Dragon because if you take those things away, it feels very much like Far Cry 3 with less to do. It basically plays the same with few alterations. I have read that some features were cut because the developers got over-ambitious and that does explain some things but I do think there’s a lot of potential here. I would love to see this concept and world fleshed out more.

I would absolutely recommend Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. You don’t need to have any knowledge of the series or Far Cry 3 to enjoy it and even today, I think it’s a unique title in the genre. I can’t think of many other games that capture the “80’s vision of the future” so perfectly like Blood Dragon does. It’s also the reason why I wish it was fleshed out more. If you played Far Cry 3, this is basically more of the same but with a very unique aesthetic and style and if you’re a fan of 80s media, you should find a lot to love here. Definitely check it out.

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