When Trials of the Blood Dragon was announced, I was more than a little skeptical. While familiar with the origin of the Blood Dragon plot, introduced back in 2013 as an add-on to Far Cry 3, there was something about bringing the Blood Dragon IP to the Trials series that left me with a feeling of concern. I felt as if the combination of the two (if not done properly) might somehow dampen them both – something I didn’t want to see for either. After the first “mission”, it was clear to me that Ubisoft put in the time to give Trials of the Blood Dragon all the attention it deserves.
Cybercommando Boot Camp
To know where we’re going, we need to know from where we’ve come. For the uninitiated, Blood Dragon was a standalone add-on for Far Cry 3, introducing the Cybercommando Sergeant Rex “Power” Colt. Rex is the stereotypical soldier who doesn’t much care for details. Go to A, kick ass, accomplish B. The expansion has us stop a rogue agent from sending a war-ravaged Earth back to the Prehistoric age. Back to the Prehistoric with bombs, of course. The cover art even screams “classic 80’s dystopian movie”. Oh, and there are BLOOD DRAGONS. If you can imagine Godzilla supercharged with grape Fanta, you’ve got the right idea.
Become the Best of the Best… of the Best
The first level opens to a young individual tearing through a military base set in a dense forest. Rex Colt, the hero of the original Blood Dragon story, provides narration, describing how the Communist Empire of Vietnam has begun using Blood Dragon tech. He also makes a point to note that he doesn’t understand how it works, he just came to “shoot people in the face”. Spoken like a true Cybercommando. Finally, he introduces the protagonists of our new plot. We now take the role of Rex’s children, Slayter and Roxanne. They’re a new class of Cybercommando, and they’re stopping the Commies once and for all.
And that pretty much sets the tone for the entire game. Bright colors, upbeat 80’s music, over-the-top action sequences, cheesy dialogue, and an unbelievable plot run rampant. There’s also a few major developments to the overarching Blood Dragon story that I won’t spoil here.
It’s a fun reprieve from the space epics, world championships, and gritty combat games. Trials of the Blood Dragon doesn’t take itself seriously, and that’s its strongest trait.
So This Is a Trials Game, Right?
Perspective is important when considering the gameplay elements.
If you’re expecting another deep, customizable, intensely challenging Trials game, you’ll be left feeling shorthanded. I was disappointed to find that there are no customizable tracks this time around, and no additional tracks outside of the story missions. However, this doesn’t detract from the quality or quantity of the missions we’re given. Coming in at 28 unique missions (tracks), there is certainly plenty of content to keep busy, particularly for the completionist crowd aiming for that “A+” in every mission. Yep, that’s an achievement.
What Trials of the Blood Dragon delivers is a unique take on the Trials series. Unmounted sections are introduced, allowing the player to platform and gun your way through enemy soldiers, laser grids, and aliens. This took me by surprise, and while the platforming doesn’t feel quite as smooth as it could, it definitely provides a unique and (later on) refreshing break from motor bikes.
Another small addition to the gameplay introduces the Micro Flip, a small RC car that can drive right side up and right side down. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Tyco released the Rebound in 1996. Our little Micro Flip is the direct reflection of a generation’s childhood, and now it’s infiltrating Communist military facilities. No big deal.
No Fate but What We Make
So what’s the verdict? The atmosphere is awesome. Enjoying a self-aware throwback to the theme of Cybercommandos, Communists, and dragons for the affordable price of $15 USD seems like a no-brainer to me. Trials of the Blood Dragon is a welcome addition to my library.
While some story elements reference the first game, Trials of the Blood Dragon does a sufficient job of introducing the key points from the original, providing a cohesive story all neatly packaged in a Trials game. The gameplay is solid, but not too terribly challenging (unless you’re going for that perfect score). It’s surprising, hardcore, ridiculous, and completely fun. If you’re looking for that “little something” different in a game, search no more.