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Ubisoft puts retro-spin on hit videogame 'Far Cry'

Ubisoft on Tuesday unleashed a wacky take on action title "Far Cry," illustrating how the low production costs of mobile-ready spin-offs allow videogame giants to show off their playful side.

"Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon" pits a cyber-commando against laser-shooting dragons in a sassy tribute to videogames from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The release of "Blood Dragon" comes as Ubisoft adapts to the booming popularity of downloading games for play on consoles, smartphones, tablets, or personal computers.

It will be joined in coming months by new titles including a "Prince of Persia" for play on Apple mobile gadgets and an online gladiator game in which players buy virtual slaves and turn them into arena fighters.

"These kinds of games give us more opportunity to take risks," Ubisoft vice president of sales Tony Key said while providing early looks at coming titles during a Digital Days event at the company's San Francisco studio.

"Blood Dragon,' available as a download to consoles or computers for $15, lets players "get the girl, kill the bad guys and save the world in a VHS-era vision of the future," according to the France-based videogame titan.

Dean Evans and his team at Ubisoft's studio in Montreal kept the script, graphics, and storylines simple while weaving pulse-pushing action and music into the intentionally retro title.

"We went a little bit renegade," Evans said.

"We decided to approach it as this mini-franchise that has gone absolutely mental... There is lots of cyborg murder rage."

Players take on the role of Sergeant Rex Colt, who is billed as "part man, part machine, all American" and out to defeat a former commanding officer turned villain with an army of killer cyborgs.

Controls in the game mirror those in its hit predecessor, "Far Cry 3," in which a carefree island vacation by young hipsters turns into a nightmare.

In the opening moments of "Far Cry 3" players go from swimming, dancing, skydiving and cavorting with friends to escaping the clutches of vicious and arguably psychotic pirates.

In contrast, the "Blood Dragon" script was pumped out quickly and game artists were given a B-movie budget for character gear, resulting in helmets resembling colanders and armor that looks like hockey pads.

"We wrote it with a lot of heart," Evans said of the game script. "It's difficult writing things that are so bad they are good."

The new title is set in a cartoonish future in which dragons fire laser beams from their eyes.

"We are not taking ourselves too seriously; we are just trying to have as much fun as possible," Evans said.

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