The 1980s were the golden age for action flicks. Muscled heroes destroyed hapless mercenaries while spouting off cheesy one-liners. Those who grew up on "Terminator" or "Rambo" films remember those series with a sense of nostalgia.
Ubisoft takes players back to those halcyon days with "Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon." Ubisoft Montreal's stand-alone downloadable game distills the essence of that era and pours it into an unapologetically macho shooter.
It puts players in the role of Rex Colt, a soldier who died in battle and is resurrected as a cyber commando. He and his buddy, Spider, are sent to a mysterious island to take down a rogue commander named Sloan. What follows next is every cliché from an action movie.
Head band? Check. Over-the-top cursing? Heck yeah, it's in there. Training montage? It's spectacular. "Blood Dragon" cleverly mixes 8-bit style cut scenes to move along the plot points. But the core of the five-hour main campaign are the missions structured on the gameplay of "Far Cry 3."
It's focused on taking over garrisoned bases through stealth, overwhelming firepower or cunning. Veterans of last year's game should be familiar with the first two. The mechanics are the same. Players can sneak up on Sloan's Omega Force soldiers, stab them and toss throwing stars at a nearby foe. They can snipe at the bad guys and wait for them to rush in to Colt's mines.
The strength of the game has always been the freedom to handle these situations any way players see fit. But the new tactic that players can employ is taking down the garrison's surrounding shields and tossing bait into the camp. That draws a fearsome Blood Dragon to wreak havoc on Colt's enemies. It's a devilishly useful game plan.
That's half of the campaign though; the more enjoyable part is the story-based missions that are so over-the-top and silly that it almost tops Volition's "Saints Row" series. The writing sparkles here as Ubisoft Montreal creates dialogue and scenes that are absurd but fit right within the lines of the '80s, an era when everyone was pro-America and anti-Communist.
The main missions also show off the flexibility of "Far Cry 3's" gameplay. They're mostly in cloistered hallways and multilevel rooms that are the opposite of the original's wide-open stages. Fighting in these claustrophobic areas with Colt's skill sets is just as enjoyable as blasting Omega Force soldiers in the larger world.
"Blood Dragon" is a brilliant move by Ubisoft Montreal, revealing a surprising sense of humor and sharp wit. This project shows the versatility of the large studio and how it can work magic on a smaller scale.
'Far Cry 3:
* * * ½
Platforms: Xbox 360,
PlayStation 3, PC