The 1980’s. This current generation of gamers weren’t alive at that point and the bit babies were getting into their early teenage years, but man we know a lot about the eighties. If popular culture has told us anything it’s that the eighties was filled with insane and hilarious rock ballads (Heart – we’re looking at you! We never really cared until we met you), crazy hair, bikes with neon lights and lots and lots of brilliant films – Terminator, Star Wars, Transformers (the good one). Let’s not forget the games and consoles released in the eighties ether – NES/Famicom, Gameboy, Pacman, Zelda, Mario, Tetris, Golden Axe, Sega Megadrive/Genesis. Heck the eighties sound like an obscure time to live in with even more obscure fashion and popular culture. How on Earth could anybody mess up a satirical jab at the eighties? Blood Dragon. Blood Dragon will show you how to mess up a mockery of the 80s, tropes of gaming, and pretty much anything else it tries to be quirky about!
Let’s get to the core of the issue, the summary of this issue, let’s ignore all the unfunny references and failed attempts at humour: this game is bad. But wait! No, Blood Dragon is –meant- to be bad! It’s meant to be stupid and make you face palm! Yeah yeah, I know, but hear this review out – let’s compare Blood Dragon to another game that was meant to be ‘bad’ and ‘stupid – Saints Row the Third. It was balls-to-the-walls ridiculous, it was so bad and nonsensical it was good, and above all it was a fun game to play. Even if you took away all the swearing, stereotypes, tigers in cars and giant purple dildos then Saints Row the Third would still be a fun game. Controls are nice, gameplay is nice and the missions were fun. If you took it all away and replaced the tits and six packs with basic armoured guys it would still be enjoyable – nowhere near as brilliant – but still enjoyable. If you take away all the bright neon lights, dragons and references away from Blood Dragon it would be completely unplayable. The controls are average, the gameplay is boring, the environment outside the random towers of neon lights is just boring. Here’s a tip to developers out there – if you’re going to make an open world game in which you want the playing to explore, make it at least look nice. I’m not talking pretty flowers and trees, it can be a dystopian world filled with nothing but killer plants – just make sure it’s an interesting and varied dystopian world filled with nothing but killer plants! Don’t make it just bushes and red mist, Blood Dragon style. But enough comparing, let’s just break it down – what exactly makes Blood Dragon a bad game?
Firstly I must say the advertisements and trailers of Blood Dragon painted it to be something it isn’t – if you’re expecting a crazy FPS set in a bright, futuristic dystopian city then you will be disappointed – as stated this game is mainly bushes and red mist with towers scattered about. The tower locations themselves are all very samey, the neon gets boring – almost as boring as the battles with the dragons and foot soldiers. There is about four or five types of enemies who attack in very predictable lines, there is very little variety and after about an hour of playing you will become very bored of the shoot ups, so much so that it’s worth just running into them with your melee to get through it quicker. Dragons sadly pose little threat – they are just annoying. Which is a shame, really as at the beginning of the game they look so promising – you must harvest hearts from your enemies which the dragons will eat, throw them towards living enemies and watch the dragons do their thing. You get the chance to do that one or two times during the game. It is novel the first time but afterwards it gets rather boring unfortunately. It had so much potential to be good fun, which is a recurring theme with the game itself. Secondly, combat – very, very boring with no challenge at all. Either just sit down and snipe the enemies off or run in and shotgun/stab people. Pair this up with very average controls and all you have is a standard duck and shoot first person shooter with flashy lights and sometimes annoying giant lizards.
Now, at the start of this review I complained about terrible references, so let’s talk a little more about them. There are two types of references in this game – stuff the characters say and stuff that you play in the game. For example, when you set some grass on fire Sergeant Rex ‘Power’ Colt will state ‘We didn’t start the fire…’ not terrible, not great, but not terrible. An example of a play-through reference is later in the game where you have to set alight a load of eggs. This is a reference to the Alien films, and it’s one of the more fun parts of the game. You might be asking, why is this so bad? Well, simply because of how the game sets itself up. It’s not actually being satirical about anything despite the game making you painfully aware that it’s aware of itself. It’s just ‘look how good and weird the eighties were. This was in the eighties. This was a song from the eighties. Neon lights were in the eighties. Now it’s in this game. Yep.’ No charm, nothing at all. The opposite of charm at some points in the game, completely frustrating, especially right at the beginning of the game during which all of the instructions are thrown at the player all in one go. Then the game thinks it’s hilarious and says [paraphrase] ‘Press A if you want all of these annoying instructions to stop’ then continues to give you all the instructions for the game. It’s obvious what the aim was – to be cutting, witty, meta, self-aware, post-modern, whatever you’d like to call it. Alas, it’s just painfully annoying. Sometimes it is funny when a game and the characters within it are self-aware (Looking at you Tales of Monkey Island!) but Blood Dragon just falls short. It’s the equivalent of someone punching you in the face and then stating they have punched you in the face. It’s funny because they know they punched you in the face! Wait, that’s not funny? Oh, I guess it isn’t. How about that.
Not all is lost in this game though; there are some good aspects to it. This is no crazy frog racer, far from it – the music is absolutely brilliant. The Australian duo Power Glove composed the games soundtrack so if you want a preview of the music in the game go and check them out. The cut scenes in the game are absolutely brilliant, they are all 8bit style stills or slightly animated pieces of art which contain the funniest moments in the game (The great Star Wars/Transformers reference lurks later in the game within these cut scenes). The final good aspect of Blood Dragon is the last twenty minutes of the game which is what the rest of the game should have been – absolutely ridiculous, crazy fun. You’re able to get onto a giant robot dragon that shoots lasers from its eyes which is completely mindless fun – until the dragon starts talking to you and states ‘Immah firin mah laser!’ which takes away all immersion the player had finally developed with the game. Despite this the last twenty minutes are fantastic – the question is are the first four boring hours worth it? Probably not.
Finally, one last thing worth mentioning about Blood Dragon. There is a point in the game where one of the characters states anybody who thinks video games causes violence is a ‘fucking moron’. Now, whilst this is obviously something the gaming community feel strongly about…really Blood Dragon, really? Is that how you want to raise and approach the issue? Blood Dragon isn’t the sort of game to be pointing fingers in regards to that matter, and it just makes the gaming community look immature and foolish. Blood Dragon hasn’t earned the right to insult people who oppose the medium, honestly it’s the sort of game you would not want to use to introduce anybody to the medium whether they thought it negative or not. Overall, there are far more better things to spend ten of your hard earned pounds on. It’s unfunny, insulting, boring and just downright terrible. ”
Editors comments “As with all review the score and opinion is always based on the reviewer. I have also had a chance to play test this game and I would have to say growing up in the 80s, this game just makes me laugh at all the stupid comments, having a dig at the gaming community when it comes to violence in video games and much more. I loved this game from start to finish and would recommend buying it, If you are a person that would take offensive to something you feel strongly about then … well you have be warned”.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.