"How fucking sad is it that people actually thought this would never get made?" asks Far Cry 3 game director Dean Evans. The comment isn't directed at fans; given that the outlandish stand alone spin-off was revealed around April fool's day, their scepticism was understandable.
But the disbelief lingered, even as Ubisoft continued to promote Blood Dragon. In light of that, it was more of a commentary on the current state of the industry, where a shooter that doesn't take itself seriously and isn't a drab mesh of greys and browns seems so far from the realm of possibility. For those still in doubt, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is getting made, and Ubisoft Montreal is very happy about that.
Post Post Apocalypse
Blood Dragon jumps to a distant future, where the apocalypse has had an apocalypse and from the ashes of Vietnam ll a new breed of soldier has risen. Part man, part machine, all commando, Sgt. Rex Colt must take on a maniac leading cyborg army to ... well, we're not exactly sure to do what, but we presume it's to save the world.
"It's bullshit," says Evans. "It's fun. Things don't have to be serious. Things don't have to make sense."
Blood Dragon is what you get when you give a bunch of devs that love movies, music, games and pop culture from the 80s and 90s free reign on making DLC. The 30 odd minutes of Blood Dragon we played were ridiculous and over-the-top in every conceivable way.
It started with an introductory cutscene styled and written to evoke SNES/Mega Drive action games, transitioned to a f**k yeah turret sequence completely mismatched with a 60s feel good bluesy/jivey soundtrack, and ended with commanding a giant dinosaur thing to fire its eye-lasers at an enemy base.
"We looked at it at the point where an action movie franchise really jumps the shark and goes ballistic," continues Evans. "The game is really stupid, and that's not a bad thing. Games can be pretty stupid and awesome.
"Metal Gear Revengeance is one of the stupidest games ever made but it's absolutely spectacular and so much fun. That's the approach we wanted to take, just go over-the-top and not take ourselves seriously."
One close up shot on bulging biceps, a helicopter explosion, and a late title card sequence later and we find ourselves on solid ground. Spider, our prankster bro-in-arms, manages to remotely start a "military navigation for idiots" program in our suit, auto-holstering guns and activating helpful tooltips including 'press A to demonstrate your ability to read', 'crouch to go lower' and 'press B to activate your quadriceps and challenge your sense of balance.'
The tongue-in-cheek mockery of modern game design nicely compliments the quality irreverent nature of the game's writing. By design, the story is farcical and the characters one-note, as most action movies and games from the the source era were.
"We're proud the script is pretty bad. We're trying to make a really bad action movie, so there's a lot of tropes and cliches in there. We had a lot of fun writing it."
"Our characters are pretty one-dimensional, but they're also pretty fun. We just really wanted to encapsulate that time period. In a time when polygons equal emotions, we don't really have a story about loss, friendship or anything like that. It's ultimately a game about murdering cyborgs."
Blood Dragon carries its inspirations through to visual design too. During a presentation it is pointed out that enemy designers are instructed to apply a B-Movie work ethic and build characters as if they were costume designers with a $150 budget. The molotov cocktail-tossing enemy, for example, is reconstructed with a toaster, hockey pants and what looked like vacuum cleaner parts.