Video games came of age in the 1980s, a decade that was also the heyday
of cheesy Hollywood action movies. Thirty years later, you don't have to
look hard to see the influence of one medium on the other. The
ultraviolent power fantasies that seem so corny today - movies like
"Rambo," ''Commando" and "The Delta Force" - pretty much provided the
template for popular games like "Call of Duty" and "Gears of War."
Cry 3: Blood Dragon" (Ubisoft, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC,
$15) makes that connection more explicit. It's an affectionate tribute
to a cinematic era in which one guy with a lot of guns could solve all
the world's problems.
The musclehead here is Rex "Power" Colt, a
cybernetically enhanced supersoldier who's sent to a remote island to
prevent a madman from building an unstoppable army. Rex is voiced by
Michael Biehn, a veteran of genuine '80s classics like "The Terminator"
and "Aliens," and his growly one-liners contribute as much to the
atmosphere as the game's pulsing synth-heavy soundtrack.
has everything you could want from the genre, including a painfully
awkward sex scene, a montage of Rex training and a flamboyantly
over-the-top climax. The plot is laid out in pixelated, minimally
animated cut scenes, although most of the action takes place in the
fully up-to-date engine Ubisoft created for last year's Far Cry 3 (Review).
don't need that game to play "Blood Dragon." Instead, your $15 buys you
a scaled-down version of "FC3" with a smaller map, fewer weapons and a
streamlined leveling-up system. It takes just six hours or so to play
through, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you felt "FC3" dragged
on too long.
"Blood Dragon" is an intriguing experiment in
downloadable content from a big publisher like Ubisoft. If you loved the
parent game, you get a fresh new adventure using the same mechanics. If
you didn't play "Far Cry 3," you get a solid sample for one-quarter of
the price. Either way, it's hard to resist. Three stars out of four.