- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gamers looking for a dose of 1980s blockbuster sci-fi action need only infiltrate the apocalyptic world of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (Ubisoft, rated Mature, reviewed with Xbox 360, 1,200 Microsoft Points or $15).

Acting as a stand-alone, downloadable adventure, this violent, yet slightly cheesy first-person shooter is a joyously brooding, cynical and spandex-wearing cousin of the famed Far Cry franchise with comparable free-roaming fun and explosive excitement.

Depending on your love for the 1980s, the game is either a tongue-in-cheek tribute or sarcastic indictment of the era perpetrated by our new favorite hero Sgt. Rex “Power” Colt.

The player — part man, part machine — is one of the last-surviving Mark IV Super Cyber commando models of the global Omega Force, complete with metal arm, cybernetic eye and metallic patch covering half of his face.

Voiced by the potty-mouthed actor Michael Biehn, a distinguished pop culture hero for his roles as Kyle Reese in “The Terminator” and Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in “Aliens,” the hero enters a multi-houred jaunt played out on a Tron-infused tropical island backed by Jan Hammer-inspired orchestration.

Featuring over-the-top action mixing both firefights, buckets of florescent blue blood and an endless supply of cool explosions, the story set in 2007 finds our grizzled hero out to save or destroy the remains of a planet devoured by a nuclear war in the 1990s between the U.S. and Russia.

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Pixilated-cut scenes only a 16-bit gaming addict could appreciate leads the way to a more polished exploration of an oppressive, red-tinged island terrain punctuated with neon coloring and filled with lightening storms, attack helicopters, mutated beasts and armies of cyborgs controlled by the megalomaniac Col. Ike Sloan.

Our hero’s arsenal will feel most familiar to those who wanted to control Robocop’s modified berretta, the T-800’s Winchester sawed-off shotgun and a Marine colonel’s Xenomorph hunting pulse rifle.

Now add in a bow, chain gun, flamethrower, a variety of grenades and ninja stars (you must always have ninja stars), and it’s the complete assault package.

A player will also have ample opportunity to upgrade each to unleash such concoctions as a semi-automatic, quad-barreled shotgun with explosive rounds.

By the way, Sgt. Colt, is on a constant mission to cause mayhem, rescue scientists, assassinate warlords, liberate garrisons and use vehicles to drive over cyborgs while collecting as much junk as possible, including VHS tapes (rental-only please) and cathode-ray tube televisions.

Don’t feel bad about diving into an impossible fight, either. Our warrior heals in a multitude of ways, played out in cool gestures such as pulling a bullet out of his arm, using an exercise hand grip, handling a portable welder to fix his metal appendage and popping his wire-dangling hand back into place.

Thrown into the dangers on the island is an assortment of animals stalking about the mostly lush areas. Less of a bother are robo-dogs, cyber-panthers and mechanical sharks while the granddaddy of the food chain arrives with the gorgeous Blood Dragons.

With their changing hues of fluorescent scales, these near single-story-tall, Tyrannosaurus-like monsters do not see so well but can shoot laser beams from their eyes and eat cyborgs.

Sgt. Rex can avoid them by crouching in tall grass to watch some ferocious attacks or, more effectively, he can also strategically throw hearts he ripped out of Omega soldiers (too cool, right?) around like rawhide bones.

That trick not only leads the dragons away from him, or on a path to cause chaos, but it works especially well at any Omega bases unprotected by a Megashield.

After getting the girl, killing the bad guy and saving the world, a player will consider Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon a humorous overload of retro entertainment for only $15. Its success should lead to plenty more downloadable adventures to continue the inspired crusade of Sgt. Rex.

Parental advice: The ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), after watching a Blood Dragon devour Omega soldiers whole and watching Sgt. Rex flip off an enemy after slitting its throat, decided to label this game “M” and that stands for mature — adults 17 years and older need only enter the Wayback Machine to try Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. So don’t let your 14–year-old convince you that “I’m just terminating a bunch of blue-blooded robots, and I’m the Six Million Dollar Man.” It’s loaded with gratuitous violence dished out by a cybernetic tough guy that revels in every kill.

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