Trials of the Blood Dragon…. I don’t get it… There is a saying that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, and that’s what this game feels like. Redlynx, who have given us some awesome Trials games (Trials: Fusion, Trials: Evolution, Trials HD and and and…) was bought by Ubisoft (every game you’ve ever played and enjoyed), who gave us the unexpected retro-futuristic hit Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which was an unusual stand-alone expansion to the 2012 Far Cry 3.
[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ow, you’d think that a game that combined the mad physics of the Trials games with the off-the-wall humor of an open world 80’s parody like Trials of the Blood Dragon would be awesome!
It just isn’t…
One gets the feeling that the takeover of Redlynx by Ubisoft was a hostile one, and as a way to enforce their authority, Ubisoft forced Redlynx to make this game as a way to humiliate them into submission.
Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but let me give you my impressions and you decide…
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of platformers, but after the pleasant surprise I received from Ori and the Blind Forest, I was actually quite keen to give Trials a go.
A massive nod to (my) golden age of gaming, the 80’s and 90’s.
Splashes of neon everywhere, and a choice of 3 soundtracks, all straight outta the 90’s. You got grinding house, dirty rock and electro to choose from.
There are 16-bit scene intros and levels that pay homage to every cool movie and TV show from that era.
So far, everything seems promising.
I love the retro cartoon slides that serve as the break scenes that further the story.
But then I use the term “story” very loosely…
Before I get into that train wreck, let me tell how it begins:
Load game, get through plot introduction and BAM!
You’re Slayter burning through Vietnam on a crapped out nuclear-powered motocross bike, during the 4th Vietnam War, trying to keep control of the maddest physics I’ve ever played!
Doing hundred foot jumps and trying not to land on your face, which is basically impossible.
When you do break your neck, or spine, or pelvis, or, more often than not, all of the above, you get a little motivational sentence like; “Dope dying skills!” or “Yo mama..!” flashing above your mangled corpse.
Everything about the Trials portion of this game feels like a crash in progress, and the best you can do is try to minimise the damage, which I can totally dig, but then it slips into a platformer that would have felt out of date in 1995.
In the platformer mode, the shooting function feels like it’s totally based on luck.
You can catch a stray enemy bullet just as easily as your opponent can, and there is no health bar, no armor, no multiple hits. You get hit once and that’s it, start the level over.
I found myself just rushing through these parts of the game so I can get back to the Trials stuff.
You basically feel like you’ve grabbed hold of a tiger with its tail on fire, and you know that unless the god’s of luck smile on you, you’re dead, with “Way to eat shorts!” flashing over your head.
You have to complete a stage in as short a time as possible and with as few spills as possible, and you get graded, the higher the grade, the more goodies get unlocked, but I never felt the urge to replay a stage to try and improve my grade.
Just to be clear, this game isn’t a total turd burger.
As I’ve already mentioned, the visual design, for the most part, is awesome.
They have taken cues from some of my favourite TV shows and movies, like Miami Vice (There was a game at that time called Hotline Miami, if I remember correctly, which kicked ass!), Raiders of the Lost Ark, Power Rangers, and (I think) Starship Troopers, but then they just go too far with it with a constant VHS digital glitch effect!
The music is awesome, after playing a few levels, I find myself doing everything in time to the rhythm, muttering Dumdumdumdum DUUUHHHH…! Even making a cup of tea becomes a musical experience, with every clink and tap in perfect sync with the concert in my head, “dumdumdumdum DUUUUHHHH…DUH DAAAAA!”
This generally clears the kitchen of children and pets, but trying to explain to either of them how awesome the 90’s was is pointless.
Anyway, more variety would be nice.
The levels are too short, anything from around 4 – 8 minutes, depending on how many times you land on your head from 40 feet.
So this game can be played in its entirety in around 4 hours.
Personally, I would have preferred a straight Trials experience, set in the Blood Dragon world, even if the game was shorter
There is a leaderboard function, which I guess you could play forever trying to get to the top of, but like I said, no ambition no interest…
It could have been so much fun!
I did consider the possibility that I may be too old for a game like this, and that’s why I just don’t get it, but it seems like this one is aimed directly at gamers like me who can remember the 90’s!
Then there is the story line…
It kind of picks up where Far Cry Blood Dragon ends off, give or take a decade.
Rex “Power” Colt, has retired from the Blood Dragon killing business and lives with his Wife, Dr. Elizabeth Darling along with their two kids. As the story unfolds, Rex faces an unfortunate death after fighting in Vietnam War 4 and his wife Dr. Elizabeth mysteriously disappears, leaving the responsibility of defending America on the shoulder of their two kids: Slayter and Roxanne.
And that’s about it.
The voice acting is, I’m going to say, intentionally cheesy, but it slips into cringe-worthy quickly and often.
Another thing I did like was the sticker book you fill up by getting sticker packs as rewards, and the contain pretty clever perversions of popular kids shows, like a mad grey Telly Tubby called Skelly Tubby and a pepper shaker with long sexy legs called Spice Girl.
The Trials portion of this game isn’t just limited to a motocross bike, you also have to pilot tanks, a jet pack and my personal favourite, a BMX, and all of them have a different physics feel, which is really cool, though, trying to fly the jetpack is like trying to swim in a bucket of wallpaper paste.
At certain stages, you get to use a grappling hook to make ludicrous stunts work, but they come out of nowhere and you only have one place to hit accurately, at 150 miles per hour, otherwise, splat; “You suck!” flashing overhead.
I don’t know what else to tell you…
Trials of the Blood Dragon is a camel, and I just don’t get why they made it. My “Ubisoft trying to break the spirit of an uppity Redlynx” theory is the only thing that makes sense to me.
Personally, I’d spend my $15 (off the Xbox Store) on something else, like the original Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, and wait for this to be given away for free as a Xbox Gold monthly offering.