The year is 2007
We love the 80's; it had some of the greatest music. Some of the best movies and some of the wildest hairstyles we've seen on this planet in a long time. It's the backdrop for Ubisoft's gonzo take on Far Cry 3 - Blood Dragon.
Set in the ashes of a world turned to chaos after Vietnam War 2 this downloadable game is something else, it takes the Far Cry 3 engine and lets it loose with neon cyborg enhanced soldiers and giant lizard-like neon Blood Dragons - shooting lasers out of their eyes.
It is in a word: fantastic. This is probably one of the best downloadable titles available for just switching off your brain and pulling your trigger finger. The story is packed with 80's cheese, enough 80's cheese to contain many grand clichés and typical B-movie subplots/twists - exactly what the Dr. ordered!
Plus, you are a Mark IV Cybercommando called: Sargent Rex Power Colt, how COOL is that?
All the cut-scenes are in animated form using state of the art 1908's animated techniques and dodgy camera-angles - superb stuff. It even has that static video recorder effect too, so you'll think you're watching a VCR tape.
If you've played Far Cry 3 then the play in Blood Dragon isn't too far removed. It has a few changes to the way it does things, gives you a lot more freedom and unlocks several of the important skills already as you start the game. Armed with a decent weapon arsenal and many of the early brutal takedowns, Rex can kick ass from the get-go and as he explores...kills people and does missions he'll get even more powerful. You earn XP from murdering your enemies, but it's OK since they're cyborg soldiers and deserve to be put down painfully.
Level up and you unlock one or two new skills, get a new health bar and so on.
As you progress through the game's main missions you'll unlock side missions where you either have to kill a type of animal or bad guy with a specific weapon, or rescue a nerd from a bunch of soldiers before they kill him. None of this requires amazing stealth skills, but the game supports stealth and rewards you for stealth-like play if you bother to take that route.
You unlock weapons, weapon attachments and upgrades as you explore the large island replete with vicious animals, bases and Blood Dragons. None of it feels forced and you can just get out there and explore, take over bases in your own time and just kick back with uber-violence if you want. In many ways this is actually a better game than Far Cry 3.
Did we mention BLOOD DRAGONS?
You rip out enemy cyber hearts, throw them to distract the loveable pesky critters and then when they're not looking sneak in a few well placed shots to their E.T. like glowing heart-lights. If you get truly lucky (we recommend the 4 barrel shotgun with inferno rounds) you can put one down, raking in a huge chunk of XP and some kudos for being a BADASS.
Mark IV style!
We also mentioned bases; you can practise your stealth here and rake in some nice XP for taking one over ninja-commando style. Or you can blaze in guns spitting death and violence to all your enemies. We had a lot of fun with Far Cry 3 outpost take-overs, but in Blood Dragon we had even more fun opening the base shields and inviting a Blood Dragon in to play with the guards whilst we snuck around and kept out of sight.
The bow is also the way to go, all covered in neon and with shiny neon arrows. It's still just a bow though, so don't expect massively overpowered laser arrows or anything.
Once the story's over there's the matter of the open world, which you can go back to and tidy up any missing collectibles and so on.
The controls are exactly the same as Far Cry 3, so if you played that you'll be right at home.
Using the Far Cry 3 engine Ubisoft has managed to smooth it out a bit since Far Cry 3. But not only that, they've added neon to everything - neon everywhere and it works. The game is bright, vibrant and full of character. The textures are really solid and everything fits together nicely.
The character designs for Rex are great, his cyber-arm and weapons look the business.
There are tweaks here and there but the animations are largely the same as Far Cry 3. They're good stuff and we have no complaints here.
Once again, the AI is pretty standard to Far Cry 3. It knows the environment and can offer a solid challenge - though you are a Mark IV Cybercommando, so don't expect the generic bad guys to offer much in the way of a fight.
Blood Dragons are pretty vicious, short sighted and work better through sound - sneaking past them is possible and they can be distracted with tasty hearts.
Not much has changed here from Far Cry 3.
A great tech-80's sound suite runs through the whole game, replete with distortion and reverb. These are the sounds of the 80's B-movie sci-fi extravaganza and the sounds of films like Terminator.
80's Terminator-like music resounds through the whole Blood Dragon game, it's packed with that great thumping vibe and it sounds truly superb.
Michael Biehn (Rex), Phil Lamarr (Spider) and Grey DeLisel (Dr. Darling) are joined by Danny Blanco Hall (Sloan) in a great tongue-in-cheek cast which mimics the 80's style perfectly.
Mark IV style! Seriously, we haven't laughed so much in a long time at video game dialogue - it is suitably cheesy and also really well written to ape the 80's style of the game.
None, you're in this game for the single player fun!
Yes, it has a lot of value for money and it's a superb downloadable game which sits alongside Mark of the Ninja as one of our favourite 360 downloadbles for ages. 1200 points will let you sample the delights of the neon island hellhole - and the price is just about right!
Come on down!