The only thing better than a great April Fools' joke is a great reverse April Fools' joke. When many first saw the logo of "Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon", they immediately recognized the many 80's-inspired stylistic flourishes, raising questions on how this related to the actual "Far Cry 3" game. Well, it's real, it has Michael Biehn as Rex Power Colt, and it's coming in fast, out May 1st on XBLA, PSN and PC. I got considerable hands-on time with "Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon", and while it is a reskin of "Far Cry 3", it's a brilliantly executed one. It's an homage to 80's action films not just in references but also in attitude, a time when it felt like there was an R-rated release every week. For those of us who still have "Far Cry 3" controls in our muscle memory, there's practically zero reorientation time needed. That includes the knife kills, climbing vines, and even aerial takedowns.
This early hands-on access also included a one-on-one chat with "Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon" creative director, Dean Evans:
MP: When you have something so specifically thematic and stylistic as "Blood Dragon", did your team ever have an issue of making the game too 80's?
Dean Evans: For sure, I think one of the misconceptions of the game is that it's "EIGHTIES!!!". We see it more as "VHS-era" which we classify as 1985 to 1992. There are still aspects of the early nineties that were extremely "cyber" like "Robot Jox", "American Cyborg", "Nemesis", that kind of shit. Of course, we could have gone over the top and make it non-stop quotes and references to things, but we wanted to be more inspired by that period rather than being more direct. We're more fond of nods.
MP: Was it a tough pitch getting Michael Biehn on board?
DE: He was my first choice. When we were working on the concept of the game, I was at the Fantasia film festival with Jason Eisener, a good friend of mine and director of "Hobo with a Shotgun". He was like (pointing), "Michael's over there!". After my heart rate went up and I exclaimed, "Holy shit!", I went up to Michael and talked about the concept with him and right there and then he went, "Right, let's do this!"
As much as it is visually different from "Far Cry 3", I do appreciate how it takes little to no time to get familiar with "Blood Dragon's" controls, having put in 20 or so hours into "Far Cry 3".
DE: It's a testament to the skills of the "Far Cry 3" development team on how they created that beast of a game. I think it's some of the best first person shooter controls out there. It was such an honor to be given the reins, "Here's the engine! Go f*ck around with it!".
MP: And that includes the middle finger taunts and the unnecessary ammo clip reload twirls…
DE: Absolutely. It's player expression. We worked really closely with our animation team. When you think about it, all these guns are on your screen all the f*cking time. You might as well give them some character. We didn't want a game that even remotely takes itself seriously. We didn't want to send any emotional message. It's just a f*cking game, one where you're murdering hundreds and hundreds of cyborgs. What do you want to feel? Love? Loss? F*ck off.