The Last Action Hero

It’s time for Blood Dragon’s Sgt. Rex “Power” Colt to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And he’s all outta gum.

By Drew Toal • April 30, 2013

“I’ve been wanting to kick those assholes in their assholes all day. Let’s go.” This memorable line could’ve been uttered by any number of late ’80s action stars, right before they bust down the door of the bad guy’s hideout and blow the place to smithereens. These characters—your John McClane, your Martin Riggs, your Marion Cobretti—are unmoored from the rules governing normal society. They are violent men with a distaste for crime and a bottomless supply of explosives and bad puns. They don’t play by the rules, but they get results.

This particular bon mot, however, comes courtesy of Rex “Power” Colt, a futuristic cyber soldier cut from this same cloth. He is, more accurately, a patchwork quilt sewn together with flotsam from every bad action flick ever conceived. Colt, a hard-bitten survivor of Vietnam War II, must take down a rogue officer who has gone all Colonel Kurtz and threatens the planet’s stability in post-apocalyptic 2007.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

And so goes the plot of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, the mildly insane companion to Far Cry 3. (You don’t need the original game to play Blood Dragon—this shooter is a standalone affair.) From the beginning, this game makes two things clear: It takes the schlocky ’80s action pedigree seriously, and it takes nothing else seriously in the least. The game’s purposely condescending tutorial walks the player through the cyber soldier’s basic functions: jumping, crouching, running, silently taking down an enemy soldier, linking that takedown into a shuriken toss that brings down a second enemy, ripping out their cyber hearts for later use, and so on. The primer is done in a way that would be insulting if it wasn’t so damn funny. It’s a little like the beginning of Portal 2, where the robot helper Wheatley mocks you in a charmingly British fashion as you learn the game’s controls.

The glue that holds the thing together—“the thing” being the joke or the game, depending on your point of view—is the gravelly voice of Michael Biehn. The actor, known for his roles in Aliens and maybe Navy SEALs, imparts Rex Colt with the perfect blend of toughness, stupidity, and capacity for ridiculous quips. He sounds exactly like a drunk guy at the bar doing his best impression of Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken. That’s entirely appropriate, because Colt is the kind of soldier who flips a stream of shells through the air and directly into his shotgun to reload it. The kind of soldier who yells, Rambo-style, when he opens up on a chopper with the Terror 4000 chain gun.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

The world is peppered with enemy garrisons for Colt to “liberate.” Conquering these strongholds opens up new side missions and weapon upgrades. It’s not necessary to take these bases down to complete the main quest, but these diversions are where the best of Blood Dragon happens. The liberation process can be repetitive, so it’s important to experiment with different attack methods. Rather than sniping from afar, it can be fun to drop a base’s “mega shields” and lure a blood-crazed blood dragon—colorful, angry dinosaurs with lasers for eyes—into the enemy encampment and just watch the mayhem ensue. With each victory, Colt’s personal arsenal grows. It’s as he says: “These guns made me safe. Bigger guns make me safer.”

The question seems to be this: Does Blood Dragon exist solely as a vehicle for the joke, or is there more to it? The answer will undoubtedly vary from player to player, but it’s hard to imagine someone who grew up steeped in the karate-fied debris of Steven Seagal or Chuck Norris not loving this over-the-top homage. Even as it affectionately lampoons those films, though, Blood Dragon stands as something of a rebuke to monochrome, humorless shooting games that celebrate disturbingly real depictions of war. Colt’s brand of ultraviolence is of a decidedly cartoonish bent, and even pulling “cyber” hearts out of the chests of dead enemies—which happens a lot—feels more akin to adolescent gross-out than ad hoc battlefield autopsy.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

As dark as Colt’s world is—something about the Soviets, nuclear war, and the invasion of Canada—it’s pretty colorful. The blood dragons themselves are all interesting shades of neon, and the red-tinged sky creates a bizarrely alien backdrop for Colt’s mission. And while the island in itself isn’t that diverting a place to explore, there are, to its credit, a fair number of conveniently located zip lines, and no shortage of things to blow up with a brick of C-400.

Any doubts that this is anything but a batshit labor of love are dispelled after the final sequence begins. I won’t spoil the surprise, but suffice to say that it includes a karate headband, a training montage, and something called the “Kill Star.” I was laughing myself stupid even as the entire island was being brutally demolished. For me, the joke never got old. I love that this game exists, and that it was produced by a major studio, no less. I only hope that we haven’t seen the last of Sergeant Rex “Power” Colt—that Blood Dragon follows in the footsteps of its predecessors and spawns a large number of even more preposterous sequels.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Price: $15
Rating: M

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64 Responses to “The Last Action Hero”

  1. DrFlimFlam says:

    I have been on the fence on FC3, but I’ll buy this just to support this kind of insanity.

  2. duwease says:

    So, for someone approaching the end of Far Cry 3 currently, is the gameplay similar enough that I might want to play something else for awhile in order for the repetition not to run thin?

    • Biclops says:

      From IGN’s review:

       “Blood Dragon is philosophically, tonally, and mechanically the fundamental opposite of its straight-faced predecessors.”  

      Seems like they kept the IP solely to move more copies.  

      • duwease says:

        Yeah, but the description of gameplay (liberating outposts, etc) sounds the same.  I still want to play it solely for the tone and setting you describe, but if the gameplay is mechanically the same I’d prefer to cleanse my palate a little first with something else.

        • I’m playing this game right now. It plays exactly the same, but with a completely different tone and setting. For what it’s worth, I don’t care. I freaking love it.

      • Chum Joely says:

        From what I’ve heard, the engine and core gameplay, not to mention a fair number of the actual graphical assets (animations, and many of the animals) are basically Far Cry 3 “re-skinned”. @duwease:disqus , I think your assessment is probably about right.

        That said, the tone, setting and by the way SOUNDTRACK to this game (the latter by Power Glove, who I hadn’t heard of before but now like quite a bit) have sold me on it, even though I am not all that excited by the original FC3. That, and this one is shorter and not trying to be a 60-hour epic with incredibly meaningful story.

    • Peter Fehrs says:

      I watched some of the 15 minutes of play posted (and then pulled).  Looks very much like the FC3 mechanics (some of it appears to just be re-skinned enemies).  So, there’s the kill from behind takedown strung with other takedowns.  So, you may want to break it up a bit before diving in.  (I beat FC3 a month ago, just beat Tomb Raider, and am looking forward to playing this).

      • The Guilty Party says:

        How did you like Tomb Raider? I thought it was great fun, but I was thoroughly unversed in both the Tomb Raider franchise and in the action games that it supposedly cribs heavily from, whose names I have suddenly completely forgotten. Undelivered? Unforgotten? Deliverance? Something involving packages, it seems.

        • Jonathan Dewar says:

          The newest Tomb Raider takes most of its inspiration from the Uncharted series (PlayStation exclusive), though Uncharted in turn took its inspiration from Tomb Raider, amongst other things.  So really, the whole thing has come full circle.

          • The Guilty Party says:

            Uncharted! That was it. I was being entirely serious, I couldn’t remember the name at all, since I have never played it. Thanks!

            I think I would be sad if all games were like Tomb Raider/Uncharted, but I’m all for occasional releases in that style. Sometimes it’s fun to play a not-too-hard interactive story where you get to be an action hero.

  3. His_Space_Holiness says:

    I’m glad that shooters are embracing rampant silliness again. All the ultra-brown death parades were getting to be a bit much. For a while there it was just TF2 carrying the torch, so it’s good to see this and the Borderlands series keeping the craziness alive.

    • Fluka says:

      I like the fact that it’s full of non-brown colors!  I mean, for heaven’s sake, look at all that *purple!*  And pink, even!

      • neodocT says:

        It’s really disappointing how ugly most shooters are. My brother recently bought CodBlops2 and I tried playing the zombie split-screen mode with him (I’ve got a weakness for co-op modes), but everything is really, really dark and blurry! You can barely see anything! What the hell?! 

        • Yeah BLOPS2Z is way too dark. There’s actually a part in Transit where you get to a well lit building and the contrast to the outside is literally blinding.
          More games should have colorful schemes. I haven’t seen screenshots that looked this interesting in awhile.

    • SamPlays says:

      Bulletstorm was pretty over-the-top silly, too. 

      • Chalkdust says:

        My favorite thing about Bulletstorm, after the combat and juggling mechanics, is the over-the-top profanity, or more specifically the developer’s reaction to the controversy surrounding it:

        “In an interview the main developer Adrian Chmielarz stated that English isn’t their mother language and that they didn’t realize how crude the swearing was. ‘Swearwords in another language have less impact than in your own language. Those F-words just sounded funny to us. We didn’t feel the impact.’ However he also admitted: ‘I swear often, and by that I mean really a lot, and yet I feel a little ashamed for the language in the game.'”

        • Girard says:

          When I taught English overseas, my students would sometimes ask me to teach them curse words, and I generally avoided indulging them for exactly that reason – it’s hard to know the ‘register’ of different ‘bad’ words when you haven’t grown up hearing them all your life, especially since the distinctions are so arbitrary (like why asshole is more inappropriate than just ass).

          There were times when I considered producing a beautiful diagram of profanity illustrating the continuum from least offensive expletives (euphemisms like “shoot”) to words so toxic they aren’t even classified as expletives and are so insulting they should probably never be used by a non-native speaker (like the N- and C- words) and everything in-between. But realized that was kind of an audacious undertaking for an extracurricular bit of subject matter I probably shouldn’t have been teaching them anyway…

        • SamPlays says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus You mean “North” and “Carolina”?

        • neodocT says:

           @paraclete_pizza:disqus I love knowing dirty words in other languages, but your idea of explaining the impact of the words could really have helped out your students.

          Last year I went to New York with a non-English speaker who kept throwing the N-word around because he thought that’s how you said the word “black” in English (and he told me the most awful story about how he found out it wasn’t). He was an idiot, but my point is that they’ll learn the words either way, so it’s better if they somewhat understand why not to say them.

        • My high school french teacher would indulge us a little, and she pointed out that French Canadian swear words were blasphemous rather than sexual in nature.

        • Citric says:

          Thanks to a spanish movie I watched once, I learned that “puta” means every swear word. It might have been a subtitling decision but man it was translated as everything.

        • neodocT says:

           @twitter-493417375:disqus Ooh, speaking of French classes and cursewords, I’ve got a completely non-game related story!

          *Mild Spoilers for the “The Captive”, the fifth volume of In Search of Lost Time *

          I was reading a Portuguese translation of Proust while starting French classes, a few years ago, when there was something I didn’t understand. (gee, writing this down makes me sound like a douchebag…).

          The emotional climax of the fifth book happens when a character says something to her boyfriend, which shocks him and causes him to reconsider their entire relationship. But the phrase in question was in French! I had not idea why it was left untranslated.

          I had read that part the night before class, and hadn’t had time to look it up online, and so decided to ask my French teacher what it was that she said. She got really flustered and just said it was a curseword, but left it at that.

          When I looked it up online, later, i found out it was a very vulgar reference to assfucking. I don’t know how I managed to look my elderly female French teacher in the eyes after that…    

        • Jackbert says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus : My friend and I made a chart like that – it was even color-coded.

          @neodocT:disqus : I attended an international school situated in the downtown area of a pretty big city for a couple years. At one point, near the start of a semester, a new Korean student went up to a couple African-Americans. He called them the N-word, for reasons still unknown. He promptly got both his arms and one of his legs broken. So yeah, I don’t think it’s the worst idea to educate ESL students about the power of words like that.

          @Citric:disqus : Try out “coño” sometime. Apparently, it can mean anything from “shit” to “vagina.” “Puta” typically means “whore,” but it can be used as other things e.g. “puta madre” means “mother fucker.” Thanks to that international school for all this useful knowledge!

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus   It would be nice if you could secure academic funding for that project, but given how unlikely that is, take that shit to Kickstarter. 

        • NakedSnake says:

           ‘Putain’ is French for whore. But in practice it can be used in every sentence. My favorite is ‘Putain de Merde!’ [Shitwhore – or more accurately, ‘whore made out of shit’]. It’s pronounced the exact same way as Vladimir Putin. As you can imagine, they have a lot of fun with that. But they also have some other good ones like bordel [brothel] for a chaotic situation. @twitter-493417375:disqus, ‘Tabernac’ is the French Canadian one you hear the most. For the Tabernacle. Those Franco-Canadians can’t even curse right.

        • Merve says:

          @baneofpigs:disqus: Ah, sacrament! C’est une hostie de vie de merde!

        • PaganPoet says:

          Malditas lisiadas! Todas!

        • Girard says:

          @neodocT:disqus : I would definitely address that stuff when it came up, especially with truly and deeply offensive words. (For example: Hip-hop is popular in Russia, and Russians on the whole tend to be more overtly racist than Americans, which meant all of my students knew the ‘n-word’ well, and didn’t entirely intuit why it’s such a thoroughly toxic word).

          But the request these students were making was basically that I, as a treat, just give them the English equivalents of various Russian dirty words because they thought it was funny. That kind of cavalier dishing-out of profanity is what leads exactly to that kind of lack of ‘register’ which leads to faux pas where you don’t realize ‘crap’ and ‘shit’ are at totally different levels of appropriacy, because they both translate to the same Russian word.

          While I never made up my uber-diagram of profanity, I generally still tried to articulate that stuff. Though generally, especially with lower and intermediate-level students where the discussion couldn’t be too technical, my general blanket advice was for them to avoid it altogether and play it safe.

        • Girard says:

          @Citric:disqus ‘Puta’ means ‘whore.’ Which is why John Swift named the decadent flying kingdom in Gulliver’s Travels ‘La Puta’ or ‘The Whore.’ Miyazaki was, however, unaware of the etymological origins of this word when he created a children’s film of the same name.

        • NakedSnake says:

           @paraclete_pizza:disqus You should have taken advantage of their naivety and told them that totally innocuous euphemisms were the equivalents. I love the idea of some Russians in NYC using the words ‘poo-poo’ ‘pork’ and ‘bumhole’ aggressively and repeatedly.

        • Citric says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus Mazda also named a car aimed at young women “Laputa”. They eventually realized what they did and it was replaced by a car that was not named that.

        • Eco1970 says:

          Girard- I have a ‘Swearometer’, which is a meter long piece of cardstock with a slifing window with various holes. Englush swear words from ‘Sugar!’ To ‘Cunt!’ Are arrayed on it from left yo right, grouped by theme and context, and also arranged in levels of offensivenesd drowmdemt on audience (I caould say ‘Balls!’ In front if my sister but not my mother, but Cunt is out of bounds for both).

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        Bulletstorm is a lot of fun. I played Crysis 2 for about six or seven hours, fatigued, and popped that in. Night and day.

        • SamPlays says:

          Crysis 2 was a little too self-serious for extended play. I found it sort of depressing, particularly the scored soundtrack, after several hours. However, it’s a really solid shooter with above-average open-ended stealth mechanics (so it’s my kind of thing).

  4. Ryan Smith says:

    So, I just started playing this game last night and it’s everything that Duke Nukem 3D wasn’t. Funny and fun to play. I even enjoyed reading the descriptions of the weapons in the database (Please read the description of the bow!). My non-Gameological endorsed score: 4.5 middle fingers out of 5.

    • SamPlays says:

      *This score has been flagged for review*

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      And it’s seriously a stand-alone game for $15? SOLD!

    • neodocT says:

       4.5 middle fingers? That’s your lowest grade ever!

    • George_Liquor says:

      Are you talking about Duke Nukem 3D or Duke Nukem Forever? While I agree that DNF is a hot mess, Duke3D is unimpeachably awesome, and I will Internet-fight anyone who says otherwise. 

      • Ryan Smith says:

        Sorry, I meant Forever!

        • George_Liquor says:

          Excellent. You, Sir, have narrowly avoided an Internet fight. Although I don’t really know what an Internet fight would entail; probably cat videos or something.

      • NakedSnake says:

         I remember when Serious Sam first came out, and it definitely felt like a response to all the oh-so-serious FPS that came out following the release of half-life. Serious Sam was like ‘Tactic? Plot? Fuck no!!! Just hold the trigger down and strafe like a motherfucker!!’

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      The fifth middle finger got bitten halfway of by a robo-shark.

    • Drew Toal says:

      It does feel like the true spiritual successor.

  5. rvb1023 says:

    So far shooters have been rather good this year, though they usually save the brown for the holidays.

  6. neodocT says:

    I was putting off getting Far Cry 3, but screw that now. Blood Dragon seems way more fun.

  7. Merve says:

    If you guys are looking for a deal on this, you can pre-order the PC download version from Gamefly for $12 (applying the coupon code GFD20OFF). The pre-order comes with the soundtrack.

  8. NakedSnake says:

     I’m glad that this review answers the fundamental question of “is it any good” a little more directly than the average Gameo review. The problem with both ‘satire’ games and games that are dominated by their art style is that they can sacrifice the gameplay for humor or art. Brutal Legend is a good example of the humor thing. It had a great gameworld, great sense of humor, great characters, but ultimately the battles (more so in the second half of the game) were confusing, repetitive, and frankly a chore. If only it could have been an adventure game or something. As for art, it may be sacrilege, but I really felt like Bastion falls into this category. The art style is so appealing that it was easy to overlook how badly implemented some of the battle features were.

    • Chalkdust says:

      Eh, combat in Bastion was kind of a non-entity to me.  Occasionally good, occasionally shaky, but never far enough in either direction to stand out (for better or for worse).  Agreed about Brutal Legend, though.  I just wanted to explore and talk to people and find hidden jokes!

      • NakedSnake says:

         Yea, Bastion was half and half. It just really stood out with any of the thrown projectiles. They were impossible to line up correctly. Ultimately, the art style won out and I enjoyed the game regardless, but the gameplay was occasionally a distraction. It also didn’t help that the game specifically set itself up as ‘hardcore’ with all of its achievements and challenges.

  9. The best thing about this game is the end credits music by Dragon Sound of Miami Connection!

    Fuck yeah! A 10/10!


  10. Jess Ragan says:

    Color! Glorious COLOR!

    For fifteen dollars, this sounds tempting, even though I’m not a fan of first person shooters. I do love me some 1980s tributes!

  11. Saltonstall says:

    In the span of about four minutes at the beginning, there are references to The Terminator, Predator, RoboCop, Commando, among others. It’s fan-freaking-tastic.

  12. Thisisjosh says:

    So, Michael Biehn isn’t known for the first terminator now?

    • Sleverin says:

       Wait, there’s a first Terminator movie?  I just remember Judgement Day…

    • uselessyss says:

      Michael Biehn may not have done much of note recently, but I watched the first Terminator recently and was impressed with his acting ability.

      If Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton weren’t as good as they were, we would not be talking about The Terminator right now.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      He should be known for his transcendent performance in The Rock. His speech in the showers (hee hee) was awesome.

  13. MSUSteve says:

    I’ve got to take exception to John McClane being lumped in with 80’s action heroes in the vein of that portrayed in Blood Dragon.  That character and franchise might’ve evolved into silliness in the last couple of entries, but that first Die Hard movie was about an every man caught in a situation where he had to act to survive.  He wasn’t perfect, he suffered and he prevailed due to grit and heart, not a bottomless barrel of explosives.

  14. Gentileman says:

    I beat Far Cry 3 about 2 weeks ago. I’m sure as heck ready for some awesome neon light shooter now.

  15. Nosgoth1979 says:

    I love the fact that this game is obviously not taking itself seriously. It just seems like good, mindless entertainment. Even though it’s a standalone game, I kind of feel like I should play through the original FC3 before I dig into Blood Dragon. And unfortunately my checking account is sitting on the empty side currently. That’s okay though since I have Blockbuster @Home from DISH I’ll just put Far Cry 3 in my queue. As an employee of DISH I try to test out all the different services we come out with, and I love this one. Before I signed up for it, my gaming habit got out of control over and over. Now with Blockbuster @Home’s flat pay-by-the-month service, my bill is always the same, no matter how many games I go through in a month, saving me a lot of money!