Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
FC3 Blood Dragon Cover.jpg
Key art by James White
Developer(s)Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher(s)Ubisoft
Director(s)
  • Dean Evans
  • Alexandre Letendre
Producer(s)Fabrice Cuny
Designer(s)Kevin Guillemette
Programmer(s)Raphaël Parent
Artist(s)Olivier Nicolas
Writer(s)Lucien Soulban
Composer(s)Power Glove
SeriesFar Cry
Platform(s)
ReleaseMay 1, 2013
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single-player

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a 2013 first-person shooter game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is a standalone expansion to 2012's Far Cry 3 and the eighth overall installment in the Far Cry franchise. Blood Dragon, a parody of 1980s action films, cartoons and video games, takes place on a retro-futuristic open world island with players assuming the action role of the military cyborg Sergeant Rex "Power" Colt. Gameplay is largely similar to Far Cry 3, though several systems from the base game were simplified or removed, and the game introduces the titular blood dragon, a massive reptile-like creature which can be lured to attack hostile outposts.

The game's development was completed in about 6 months. It was part of Ubisoft's initiative to release downloadable content that would appeal to newcomers to the series, and the team was tasked to create something unexpected for the DLC for Far Cry 3. The game was inspired by movies from the 1980s such as The Wraith and Terminator, as well as recent movies such as Manborg and Hobo with a Shotgun. The director for Hobo with a Shotgun, Jason Eisener, became the game's informal advisor after he befriended the game's director, Dean Evans. Michael Biehn was invited to provide his voice for the game's protagonist, while Australian synthwave duo Power Glove composed the game's soundtracks.

It was released for PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 in May 2013. The game received generally positive reviews upon release, with praise directed at the game's gameplay, soundtracks and its 1980s influence. However, opinions were divided on the game's attempts at humor. The game was a commercial success for Ubisoft, with the game selling 1 million copies by August 2013. A remastered version of the game was currently in development and would be available for players who purchased the season pass of Far Cry 6. While the game did not have any sequel, a spin-off, Trials of the Blood Dragon, was released in 2016. Netflix is currently producing an animation series based on Blood Dragon titled Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix.

Gameplay[edit]

In this gameplay screenshot, protagonist Rex "Power" Colt is attacking the titular blood dragon.

Blood Dragon is a standalone expansion to Far Cry 3, which is an action-adventure first-person shooter video game. In the game, the player assumes control of Rex "Power" Colt, a cyborg military commando who was stranded on an unnamed island. Like the main game, it allows players to use various means to approach their objectives. For instance, players can use various firearms such as pistols, assault rifles, shotgun, and sniper rifles, and explosives like grenades to kill their opponents.[1] Alternatively, they can utilize stealth tactics such as distracting enemies by throwing a dice, or performing silent takedown using a large knife. Enemies can also be tagged using Rex's camera.[2] The game features a simplified character progression system. With sufficient cyberpoints (the game's equivalent of experience), new skills and combat perks, such as increased health or increased defense, would be automatically unlocked.[3] At the beginning of the game, most of the skills unlocked by the end of Far Cry 3, such as swimming for an indefinite duration underwater and chained combat takedowns, are already unlocked.[4] The crafting system featured in Far Cry 3, however, was removed in Blood Dragon.[5]

The island is an open world that is about half the size of Far Cry 3.[6] Players can hunt various wildlife, complete side missions to unlock new weapon upgrades and attachments, and liberate enemy outposts and garrisons.[3] The unnamed island is the home of the titular blood dragon, as well as various wildlife such as cybersharks and mutant cassowarys.[4] Blood dragons are blind, but they can shoot lasers from their eyes and hunt using their sense of smell. Players can throw cybernetic hearts to lure blood dragons to an enemy base, which would help Rex to wipe out nearby enemies.[7] The only way to collect cybernetic hearts is to rip them out from the corpses of fallen enemies.[8] Blood dragons are infused with the lights of neon, and the color the neon lights radiated reflects their hostility status. Red means that the beast is already attacking, yellow suggests that the beast is being cautious, while green means that they are calm.[2] The game features 13 hostile garrisons that the players can liberate.[9] Hostile enemies will call for reinforcements and activate the alarms if they detect the presence of Rex in their compound.[10] These bases have an energy shield that must be deactivated before a blood dragon can enter the compound.[11] Once liberated, these outposts became fast travel points for the players, though they can also freely exploring the world on foot or by various vehicles.[2] As the player explores the world, they will find various collectibles in the form of VHS tapes and CRT TVs.[12]

Plot[edit]

Michael Biehn provided his voice for protagonist Rex "Power" Colt.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is set in a dystopian version of 2007, where the world is suffering the aftermath of a nuclear war. Ubisoft described the game as "an 80s VHS vision of the future" where the player must "get the girl, kill the bad guys, and save the world."

The player controls an American cybernetic super-soldier named Sergeant Rex "Power" Colt (Michael Biehn). He and another American cyber-soldier known as T.T. "Spider" Brown (Phil LaMarr) travel to an unnamed island to investigate Colonel Sloan (Danny Blanco Hall), an elite agent who has gone rogue. Upon confronting Sloan, he reveals his treachery, kills Spider, and knocks out Rex.

Rex is awoken by Sloan's Canadian assistant Dr. Elizabeth Darling (Grey DeLisle), who, disillusioned with Sloan's goals, betrays him. Rex teams up with Dr. Darling to overthrow Sloan's plan to revert the world to a prehistoric-like state with his rockets, armed with the blood of the "blood dragons" that roam the island. After liberating bases, saving scientists, and killing animals, Rex fights Sloan's assistant Dr. Carlyle (Robin Atkin Downes), who has used the blood of blood dragons to turn humans into zombie-like creatures called "the running dead". After Rex fights Dr. Carlyle's cyber soldiers and blood dragons, Dr. Carlyle is killed by his own AI, who had been mistreated and acted out of revenge.

Rex then goes into a parallel dimension, where he fights legions of Colonel Sloan's running dead. Upon defeating them and "testing his might", Rex gets the Killstar, an arm-mounted laser gun that gives Rex the power necessary to defeat Sloan, at the cost of his own vitality. Following a training montage, Rex and Dr. Darling have sex; Darling is abducted the following morning. Rex then makes an assault on Sloan's base with the assistance of the Killstar and later, the Battle Armored Dragon Assault Strike System (B.A.D.A.S.S.).

Rex confronts Sloan who, having programmed Rex, prevents him from attacking Sloan. However, Dr. Darling's and Spider's memories remind Rex of his humanity despite his cybernetic nature. With renewed strength, Rex impales Sloan with his robotic hand and fires the Killstar, killing Sloan. Dr. Darling appears immediately after, informing Rex of his success in stopping Sloan's plans, then proceeds to destroy the base. They embrace while looking on at the destruction, only for Darling to look behind with purple eyes and a sinister gaze.

Development[edit]

"We’ve worked really hard to do a really bad script and it’s been a lot of fun to embrace that, tick off a lot of tropes, and try to create something that really is quite atrocious. But we’ve gone along that line of so bad it’s good. It’s almost like the Troll 2, or Miami Connection kind of aspect of things.

— Dean Evans, the director of Blood Dragon.[13]

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a standalone expansion for Far Cry 3, which was released in late 2012. At the time, Ubisoft was experimenting with a new approach to releasing downloadable content (DLC) for their games. They wished to release additional content that would appeal to newcomers in addition to the existing players of their games. They first experimented with The Tyranny of King Washington, a DLC for Assassin's Creed III that is set in alternate history. The team intended to continue this approach for Far Cry 3, and allowed the developers to abandoned the characters and the settings of the first game. Ubisoft welcomed all types of idea for the DLC, and they were approached by Dean Evans, who have previously worked on Assassin's Creed III and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, about a game that is set in "a 1980s vision of the future". Both franchise director Dan Hay and Ubisoft executives in Paris were pleased with the idea, and gave Evans approximately 6 months to complete its development.[14]

The game was heavily inspired by B-movies released in the 1980s and the early 1990s.[13] Since Hay gave the team free reign to create something unexpected, Evans wanted to use the opportunity to "resurrect a VHS-era aesthetic he felt was lost to the times".[14] At the time, the release of nostalgic films such as Manborg and Hobo with a Shotgun made him believe that Blood Dragon would yield similar success, especially since the genre was underrepresented in the video game industry.[15] Evans contacted director Jason Eisener after watching Hobo with a Shotgun, and the two soon became friends, and Eisener became Blood Dragon's informal adviser, as Evans would regularly send assets and soundtracks to Eisener. Ubisoft also invited Eisener to viist their Montreal office to brainstorm additional ideas and read the game's script. Initially, the team planned to include a boss battle in Blood Dragon, which saw Rex combating "the Plague", characters from Hobo with a Shotgun, though this was removed from the game due to the game's limited development time.[14]

Initially, Ubisoft was considering to hire Dolph Lundgren for the lead role, Rex "Power" Colt. However, Evans met Michael Biehn, who was known for his roles as Kyle Reese and Dwayne Hicks, during a Q and A session for his film, The Victim, and decided that he would be the perfect candidate for voicing Rex. Evans contacted Jennifer Blanc, Biehn's wife and business partner, to set up a meeting, but he was initially reluctant to meet with Evans due to his unpleasant experience voicing Hicks in Aliens: Colonial Marines, his only voice role for a video game. Biehn changed his mind after meeting Evans, as he found the 1980s influence to be inherently interesting. The team described Rex Colt as "Michael Biehn in Terminator - but if he was the Terminator".[16] Biehn portrayed Rex as "somebody that was old and done [wiping out blood dragons] 100 times". Evans added that Rex was "bored" and "cynical" about the events happening in the game. As a result, the team have Biehn recording satirical one-liners with a hoarse voice.[14]

To ensure that the game captured the aesthetics of the 1980s movie, Evans held weekly "Cyborg Nights", in which the development team gathered together to watch films such as Robocop, Predator, and The Wraith. The cutscenes featured in the game are slideshow-styled 16-bit animations.[14] Evans also asked the team to design the characters as if they only have a budget of $150.[17] Many characteres in the game looked like action figures, and the team incorporate found objects into their design that is commonly seen in "B-movie sci-fi".[14] According to Evans, the team was proud of the script, which was "bad", and boasted about having "predictable and one-dimensional characters", "terrible story" and "minimal emotions" during early preview events.[7] He further remarked that Blood Dragon did not "make much sense", and that the game was designed to be "ridiculous", "fun",[4] "stupid" and "honest". The team hoped that the game can evoke the feeling of playing with action figures when players were young.[18]

Since the game had a very short development cycle, many systems, such as skill trees and crafting, were either removed or significantly streamlined. According to Evans, the essence of the game is entirely about "running around with very big guns and shooting cyborgs in their faces whilst trying to avoid dragons that fire lasers from their eyes".[17] The design of most of the enemies in the game was simple, but creating the blood dragons was challenging for the team due to their massive size. They had to rethink the design of the island to make sure that the dragons can fully interact with the environment without clipping into the terrain. Many features were cut from the game since the team became over-ambitious. One ending involved Rex eating the heart of Sloan, and then transforming into a giant to battle a massive dragon. A boss fight with Sloan was also replaced with cutscenes.[14] At one point the game included self-aware quick-time events, such as "press A to show emotions" and "press A to cry", but this was subsequently removed from the game.[19]

Australian synthwave duo Power Glove served as the game's composer. Evans was asked Eisener, who worked with the duo previously on Hobo with a Shotgun, to help him reach them. The soundtracks were produced fairly early during the game's development, as Evans wanted to use them as a baseline for the game's development. According to Evans, this allowed the team to understand more about the atmosphere and the tone the game was striving for. Concept arts were sent to Power Glove for inspiration. The team first composed the Blood Dragon theme, the theme for Rex Colt, and "Omega Force". The production of the soundtrack went smoothly, as the team rarely needed to ask the duo to revise their soundtracks. The soundtracks produced were mainly electronic musics that paid homage to John Carpenter and Terminator films.[16] To capture the retro vibe, the team also recruited the sound designer of Airwolf to serve as the game's audio director.[18]

Release[edit]

In March 2013, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was found listed on a Brazilian ratings site.[20] On April 1, 2013, Ubisoft released a teaser video and website for Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, leading many to believe that it was an April Fools' Day joke.[21] Suspicions that the game was real were further confirmed when retro electronica group Power Glove uploaded music from the soundtrack to music hosting website SoundCloud.[22] The game was leaked on April 7, 2013, due to an exploit in Ubisoft's digital distribution service, Uplay.[23] This led to the service being closed until the exploit was fixed. On April 8, 2013, the game was listed on the Xbox Live Marketplace.[24]

On April 11, Ubisoft officially confirmed the game's release with a new trailer, confirming that the game would be released on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and Microsoft Windows on May 1.[25][26] The trailer was animated in a 1980s style, including all the tropes of poor voice acting and imperfections designed to make the video look like a VHS tape.[27][28] A live-action video titled Blood Dragon: The Cyber War was released on April 16, 2013.[29] It was produced by Corridor Digital and introduces the "Apocalypse's Apocalypse", featuring cyborgs as a threat to the world.[30] The virtual box art cover for the game was designed by James White, who had previously created artwork for the film Drive.[31]

A remastered version of Blood Dragon will be included in the season pass for Far Cry 6.[32]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The game received generally positive reviews according to review aggregator Metacritic upon release.[33][34][35] The game was nominated at the D.I.C.E. Award for Downloadable Game of the Year,[43] and won the VGX award for Best DLC.[44]

The tone and the theme of the game received mixed reviews. According to GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd, Blood Dragon is "fascinatingly entertaining" and that the game's writing was more clever than most other shooters in the market, and that it was "hard not to be charmed from the moment it begins".[38] Mitch Dyer from IGN liked the 80s influence, and described the experience as entering the mind of a nine-year-old kid where action figures come to life.[39] Sinan Kubba from Joystiq compared Rex Colt to Duke Nukem, and lauded Ubisoft for successfully "combine crazy ideas with classy writing", a feat that the original game failed to achieve.[42] Dan Whitehead from Eurogamer agreed that the game was dumb, adding that it "wears its idiocy like a shield", but remarked that some players may not enjoy this kind of humor.[37] Matt Bertz from Game Informer thought that the story was hiliarious, but concurred that the crass humor featured in the game, similar to the 1980s movie, may alienate some of its players.[9] Jim Sterling from Destructoid and Alex Wiltshire from PC Gamer were more critical of the game's humor, with Sterling adding that some of the jokes can be banal and lame.[36][40] The game's soundtracks received criticial acclaim.[9][38] The cutscenes were genreally liked,[41][38] with VanOrd comparing them to those of older games such as Metal Gear and Shadow of the Beast,[38] though Dyer noted that some of these cutscenes were too long.[39]

The gameplay received generally positive reviews. Most critics liked the blood dragons, as their presence gave players an additional way to clear outposts and garrisons. They found blood dragons' interaction with other enemies an engaging experience.[11][38] Several critics, however, remarked that it was not too challenging to kill a blood dragon in the game.[42][38] Wiltshire added that they were not interesting to fight, and were more interesting as an ally than an enemy.[40] Whitehead praised the game's progression and pacing, noting that the game ends before it outstays its welcome.[37] Bertz, however, disliked some of the side objectives for disrupting the pacing of the game and noted that some of the quests were repetitive and boring.[9] Both VanOrd and Dyer liked how most of the skills in Far Cry 3 were already unlocked at the beginning of Blood Dragon, with Dyer noting that this made Rex a very powerful character. Many critics remarked that the gameplay strengths of Far Cry 3 remain in Blood Dragon.[40][38][41] While several critics were disappointed by the lack of new gameplay additions,[41][36] Arthur Gies from Polygon reckoned that Blood Dragon is a more managable game due to its smaller size and simplified systems.[11]

Sales[edit]

The game sold over 500,000 copies under two months, surpassing Ubisoft's expectations. Its success also boosted the sales of Far Cry 3.[45] At Gamescom 2013, it was announced that the game had sold over 1 million copies, and Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot stated that physical copies of the game may be available at some point.[46]

Legacy[edit]

Evans initially planned for a sequel,[47] though Far Cry 4 director Alex Hutchinson later added that the game would not have a follow-up.[48] Although no actual sequels to Blood Dragon have yet been released, a Trials game named Trials of the Blood Dragon was developed by RedLynx and released by Ubisoft in 2016.[49] Evans left Ubisoft in March 2018 after his project was cancelled internally.[50] Following the success of Blood Dragon, Ubisoft continued to release spin-offs for the series using assets built for mainline games. This led to the release of Far Cry Primal in 2016, and Far Cry New Dawn in 2019.[51] Blood dragons also return as enemies in Dead Living Zombies, the final piece of DLC for Far Cry 5.[52]

It was announced that Ubisoft are teaming with Adi Shankar to developed an animated series titled Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix.[53] The show was announced to be in production for Netflix during June 2021, with Bobbypills leading the animation and Balak as creative director.[54]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]