Published May 27, 2013The '80s were a golden era for baroque action movies fuelled by testosterone, Creatine and unlimited ammo. They were also a golden age for videogames, so it was inevitable that a team of developers raised on both would want to bring their childhood loves together like Voltron.
What's more surprising is that someone higher up the corporate chain said, "yes, let's do it." But someone did, and so the good folks of Ubisoft Montreal have turned their neon-streaked nostalgia into one of the most ambitious (and funniest) expansion packs in memory: a self-described, "'80s VHS vision of the future," set in the far off year of… 2007.
Though it uses Far Cry 3's game engine, Blood Dragon is a standalone download that doesn't require the original title, trading its pirate- and native-filled tropical island sandbox for a cyborg/ninja-populated, post-apocalyptic one. It's still a first-person shooter, and the basic gameplay and mechanics remain in place, if somewhat simplified — crafting is gone, for instance, and levelling is less complex — but you're still running, gunning, driving and, to a lesser degree, stealthing your way through a (smaller) open-world island. However, besides the gameplay, there's no discernable narrative connection to the Far Cry franchise.
Plot-wise, the game is set in a dystopian retro-future where the Cold War became white hot. In the aftermath of nuclear Armageddon, you play a cyborg soldier trying to stop a rogue colonel while fighting a cyber army, human zombies and the titular blood dragons. As you may have surmised, it ditches the original game's occasionally overbearing self-seriousness for a tongue that couldn't be more firmly in cheek, lovingly mocking everything from its over-the-top source material to the redundant tutorial.
Even the cut-scenes are eight-bit pixel art, which may have saved money, but are also an awesome homage to the graphics of yore. Also awesome is the fact that protagonist Sergeant Rex Power Colt is voiced by Michael Biehn, better known as John Conner's future dad, Kyle Reese, from The Terminator. And then there's the all-synth soundtrack by retro-tronic act Power Glove. (If you get the joke of their name, stop reading and go download the game already.) For those who didn't live through the Reagan Era, yes, you may miss many of this self-aware satire's retro references, so just think of it as a post-apocalyptic GTA: Vice City and get Netflix. (Ubisoft)