How many people have you killed? Hopefully zero, at least in the real world. In the digital world though, you probably make Pol Pot look like Mr. Rogers. Killing is a serious business in most of our games. Protagonists are tough and stoic, stories revolve around wars and pride, and everything from the setting to the menu music is meant to provide a titillating gravitas. But one of the most storied rated-M-for-mature FPS franchises out there took a detour into comedy and created one of the most entertaining shooters of the last decade.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a standalone expansion for the third installment in Ubisoft’s flagship Far Cry brand. It’s a delightfully tongue-in-cheek homage to 80s action tropes and overwrought gaming mechanics, wrapped in some solid fundamentals that make it a must-play for anyone who likes to have fun killing people in video games or otherwise.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon’s origin story begins, fittingly, on April Fool’s Day. the leak was initially dismissed as a prank until portions of the soundtrack were released and Ubisoft was forced to admit the game was real. On April 11, it released the magnificent trailer posted above. This was a very different tone than Far Cry 3, which pioneered the series formula of larger-than-life villains in lush settings. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon may have been using its namesake’s gameplay, but the similarities stop the moment you get past the crosshairs.
Set in a near-future, post-apocalyptic dystopia (“the apocalypse has had an apocalypse” is *chef’s kiss*), the game stars 80s icon Michael Biehn. Most famous for his roles in sci-fi epics like Terminator and Aliens, Biehn plays Sgt. Rex Power Colt, a hardscrabble future soldier known as a cyber-commando. Colt is sent to stop another cyber-commando who has gone rogue and wants to destroy the world. Typical stuff.
What isn’t typical is the sheer volume of joy you can feel coming from the devs all along the way. This is one of those projects where talented people were given license to get weird and absolutely reveled in it. Biehn deadpan delivers some fantastic lines, and the 80s vibes are potent. There are easter eggs atop easter eggs for classics like Predator, Die Hard, TMNT among many others. Biehn’s fourth-wall-breaking Colt is the perfect protagonist for taking players through this funhouse.
The gameplay itself is what you’d expect. It’s a Far Cry game, you take down outposts and occasionally fight towering dragon monsters with frickin’ laser beams coming out their heads. Upon release the biggest criticism of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was that it tried to hide how Far Cry 3 it actually was with a perma-night setting and garish neon lights. And while YMMV on whether or not the reskinned world bothers you now nearly a decade later, it’s clear from subsequent releases that the Far Cry 3 formula has overstayed its welcome. In fact, Blood Dragon is the second-highest-rated game in the franchise since 2012. Not bad for a wacky expansion.