(Ubisoft for XBLA)
By Mike Delano
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a neon-streaked nostalgia bomb, an unabashed love letter to the ridiculous action movie clichés of the Reagan era. It takes the framework from last year’s excellent Far Cry 3 and molds it into a starkly different experience – a more streamlined (but still very open-ended) FPS that is dripping with the kind of awkward pseudo-futuristic vibe and muscle-bound antics that defined films from Rambo to The Running Man. The game immerses you so completely in its retro vibe that it’s bound to bring back memories: For me, this was the kind of so-bad-it’s-good trash that my buddy Rob and I would watch in his parents’ basement in high school, either because we stumbled upon it on Cinemax at 2 a.m., or because we rented the VHS from the local video store based solely on how goofy the cover art looked. Blood Dragon gets pretty much everything right from that time period, from the bad guys’ coordinated outfits to the bro-ed out/supermacho storylines that make Gears of War look like Steel Magnolias. The hilariously primitive cutscenes accurately recall the games from that time period that had to further simplify those already-insipid storylines of ’80s action movies to make them work inside the limits of 8- or 16-bit technology. The presentation of Blood Dragon is uniformly excellent, and while the gameplay has no such ambitions, it’s more than competent. It offers a condensed sampling of FC3’s wide range of activities, from tracking down wildlife to overtaking enemy strongholds to searching every remote corner of the island for collectibles or missions: There’s such an incredible amount of things to do that it only feels ‘condensed’ when compared to the enormity of the original game. Blood Dragon is a funny, creative way to bring players back (or introduce them for the first time) to the Far Cry universe, and as a nostalgia piece it’s a much more endearing and effective snapshot of the ’80s that many other recent attempts.