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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.

TranscriptEdit

The relationship between retailers and game publishers reminds me of the British coalition government; they're like two people who have to work together but you can tell from their toothy smiles and firm handshakes that both are waiting for the other to flinch, just for an instant, so that they can rip off their shirts and start clawing for the eyeballs.

"Retail? Pah! Direct download is what all the cool kids use!" cry the game publishers. "Also we're designing future console hardwares so that if you put a pre-owned game in it, it will catch fire and launch hot acid at your eyeballs."

"What was that about a new console?" go the game retailers. "Okay, I guess we'll stock it on this shelf here, behind a rack of Nancy Drew hidden object games and a series of rotating knives!"

Come on, guys, learn to live with each other. You might as well accept that some people are always gonna want physical copies of games, if only because deleting a game just doesn't give the same sense of closure as microwaving it. Presently however, retail releases are having a little sleepy time after the big spunky blow-out of Quarter 1, so let's ride the wave of the future and motherfuckin' download some shit, starting with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon!

You know what, as much as I like games like Spec Ops: The Line, there's a danger of video games starting to take themselves a bit too seriously with all these gritty character arcs and bombastic orchestral soundtracks playing as they very earnestly and dramatically raise their mounted taint periscopes to gaze at their own bumholes. It is possible for violence to be fun, remember? That's basically written on the archway leading into Video Game Town. And Blood Dragon opening with a helicopter minigun sequence to the sound of "Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard is probably one of the most efficient openings I've ever seen in terms of laying out its one's intentions. The tongue is not only in the cheek but it has bored right through the cheek, burst out of the face and has signed on to a whimsical Zucker Brothers film.

Most overtly, it's a spoof of 80's sci-fi action, meaning basically every Schwarzenegger film before Kindergarten Cop, but also takes the time to parody both retro action games and modern shooters which it does by basically being a modern shooter. You play Rex Power Colt, cyber-commando voiced by Michael Biehn in the less embarrassing of his two video game appearances this year. He's got to end the evil machinations of his former commander gone rogue with the help of a beautiful scientist, because he may be constructed from radio parts and Meccano but all that matters is that he still has a human soooouuuuuull, etc., etc.

Despite appearances, this isn't actually Far Cry 3 DLC, it's an entirely stand-alone affair based on Far Cry 3. But it's only a 1 gig download and that didn't seem like it could stretch that far. For most AAA games these days, that gets you an intro cinematic and maybe a party bag to take home. Turns out what this gets is in this case one island, thirteen garrisons to liberate and a story campaign that you could miss entirely if a large dog happens to run past the screen at the wrong moment.

When I say it's "based on Far Cry 3", that's kind of like saying that a car with a suspiciously fresh respray job and licence plate is "based on" another car that went missing around here recently. It is Far Cry 3 but with neon colours and synthesizer music. It reminds me of those zero-effort Doom mods from back in the day when they just replaced all the sprites with pictures of girls and coloured the rocket launchers pink. It's the same terrain and the same gameplay, but they're trying to sell a special bukkake edition.

And while I like Far Cry 3, the tone of the gameplay just doesn't serve a jerky sci-fi game as well as it did the original. There should have been a more fitting way for Rex to get around the island than constant bloody nature hikes, and might as well stop beating around the bush, where's my fucking jetpack?! That was an opportunity sticking its six foot wide arse in the air and you still missed it! Largely it's back to the old routine of clearing out garrisons and hunting, except the vibrant neon colours on a dark background are kind of like undergoing reconstructive dentistry in that it can make things hard to make out (slightly tortured simile).

The only real gameplay addition is the titular blood dragons, a sort of logical progression of the old Far Cry 3 trick of delegating the clearing out of garrisons to Mister Whiskers and the forest friends. If you sneak into garrisons and deactivate the forcefields, you can bait giant glowing dinosaurs to come and do the spring cleaning, but it's a fiddly and unreliable technique when if there are no more baddies in their line of sight, they decide to snack on some Kyle Reese's pieces instead, perhaps a plate of fish and Hicks!

But at the end of the cyber-day, one must judge an intentional comedy by whether or not it's funny because a comedy I don't laugh at is like a strangling murder that doesn't make me cum: I might as well not have bothered. But fortunately Blood Dragon does make me laugh, fairly often.

I still wish more video games could figure out that there are more schools of comedy besides being ironically over the top or referencing pop culture and internet memes, and some moments in the oh-so-hilarious, retro style, barely animated cutscenes can seem a bit try-hardy (yes, that's a word), but the humor is densely packed. Every single collectable document or database entry contains one or two reliable chortles, and that gives me far more motive to seek 100% completion than Skyrim ever did.

It's the best kind of parody in that you don't have to be fully familiar with any one thing that it's referencing in order to find it funny, which is the stick I will beat Duke Nukem Forever with until I've extracted every micron of entertainment value it promised me. Michael Biehn's deadpan voice proves quite an effective parody of himself, this is what's known as the Leslie Nielsen career trajectory.

But funny as it is, all that is wallpaper and the hiding blanket of irony only covers so much. The ending for example wasn't ironically as over the top as it needed to be, ironically. Yes, you get to ride an armoured laser dinosaur into the enemy stronghold but then it just kind of stops. No boss fight and the main villain dies in the ending cutscene. There should have been some kind of disco arena space battle with another guy on an armoured laser dinosaur and you should have both been wielding American Gladiator paddles with hedge trimmers strapped to the ends.

I suppose it wouldn't be Far Cry 3 if the villains didn't all die as anti-climatically as possible and if the "It's a Parody" shield stops working, then they can always swap it with their "What Did You Expect for Twenty Bucks" defense. But on the whole, I find Blood Dragon to be a positive development in... uh, development. Someone wants to unwind after a big AAA project by taking all the tools and making a funny ancillary game that appealed to them 'cause they didn't have to take it so seriously, and then lo and behold! People liked it 'cos it's fun and got a bit of heart that makes it stand out among the usual AAA releases

Blimey, who could have predicted that a man dressed as a giant light-up purple cock would turn a few heads at the Paint Drying Appreciation Society!

AddendaEdit

That's the wrong kind of laser eye surgery: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

Apparently 'Biehn' is just pronounced 'Bean' because some people are determined to make things complicated for everyone else

Bungle the Tapir now available for after dinner speechwriting

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins · Sonic Forces · Star Wars Battlefront II

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