When Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon launched a few years back, it was an announcement that many thought was an April Fools Day joke due to its outlandish premise. It was completely legitimate, however, and the over-the-top and bizarre 80’s action throwback wowed audiences for just how crazy and fun it was. While a sequel to that game is something that fans have been wanting for a while now, Trials of the Blood Dragon is definitely not what most were hoping for.
While the story and zany visuals remain familiar, the tale that has Rex Colt’s twin children taking on a mission to save America from the commies is actually a Trials game when all is said and done in the gameplay department. All of the character quips, bombastic visual flair and machismo is still front and center, but it’s more of a backdrop for the tried and true Trials gameplay.
And, honestly, when it just tries to be a Trials game is when things gel the most. While anyone who has played the most recent titles will be used to the ridiculous obstacle courses that players must zoom through on their motorcycles without crashing or falling into bottomless pits, that craziness actually blends really well with Blood Dragon’s DNA. As you speed through levels you’ll be racing across collapsing paths as Blood Dragons stomp around and neon colors flash in the background, and these sections result in some seriously fun gameplay sequences.
However, that is the only place where Trials of the Blood Dragon gets it right with the gameplay, because elsewhere it tries to blend in more of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon’s gameplay ideas that just don’t work here. The game is packed with on-foot platforming sections that are incredibly dull, with controls that are too floaty and imprecise. These sections have you gunning down enemies with an uzi, but they’re so easy and straightforward that they get old quickly.
The standard Trials levels are solid, but things get shaky elsewhere
These sections are made even worse when a jetpack is mixed in, which is easily one of the most frustrating segments of a game that I’ve played this year. This is not due to a legitimate challenge that the game offers, but the downright atrocious controls that have you smashing all over the place where the level design calls for you to take things slowly and precisely to avoid dying. A bomb eventually gets tied to the jetpack that requires you to be even more precise with your movement, and I honestly cannot fathom who on the development team thought this was something that was enjoyable to play.
The messy gameplay transitions aren’t helped by the game’s story, which is serviceable but is brought down by the game’s two leading protagonists. They are both terribly written and voice acted, and do nothing at all to make you give a damn about whether or not they actually make it through their trials. Their dialogue also constantly tries to be funny and witty, but what comes out of their mouths is almost always boring. The secondary characters in the game are able to pick up the slack a little, delivering more of the endearing machismo from the big and muscular characters that continues to be entertaining.
Thankfully, even when the game is at its worst it is able to deliver dazzling visuals and set pieces that are regularly pure eye candy. Blazing through the levels at high-speed while you are bombarded with a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors and 80’s-fueled insanity keeps things interesting, ensuring that there is always something around the corner to catch your eye. The game’s soundtrack is also really cool with its synth-heavy instrumentation, making you feel like you are right in the middle of an 80’s action movie.
Trials of the Blood Dragon gets some things very right and other things very wrong, and unfortunately it ends up being a mixed bag. When it focuses on being a Trials game with the Blood Dragon inspirations being purely visual it’s awesome, but when it tries to take risks and add Blood Dragon into its gameplay is when everything collapses. Hopefully we get a true Blood Dragon sequel at some point, because this would be an unfortunate sendoff for this promising series.
Trials of Blood Dragon
- Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Published By: Ubisoft
- Developed By: Ubisoft Kiev, Red Lynx
- Genre: Racing
- US Release Date: June 13th, 2016
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "Trials of the Blood Dragon gets some things very right and other things very wrong, and unfortunately it ends up being a mixed bag. Hopefully we get a true Blood Dragon sequel at some point, because this would be an unfortunate sendoff for this promising series."
- Bombastic vehicular sections
- Wild and ridiculous visuals
- Cool soundtrack
- Non-vehicular sections range from dull to frustrating
- Humor falls flat
- Boring protagonists