Trials has been a consistently excellent series, and Far Cry's 80s-themed Blood Dragon expansion was an exhilarating breath of fresh air. Therefore, a mashup of the two should be one of the best releases of the year, right?
Well, one of the easiest ways to answer that question is with another question; did you ever play Trials and find yourself thinking that it could use more on-foot segments? And the answer to that question is "no."
Trials has always been a game about precision. Its trickier tracks have required perfect feathering of the throttle, while getting the balance of your bike right on some perilous segments. That's where Trials of the Blood Dragon falls apart; it tasks you with running and gunning more frequently than it should and it just doesn't feel right. In truth, it feels like a low-budget platforming shooter with floaty jumps and imprecise controls. This is a bugbear that's particularly highlighted in sections that have you outrunning a Blood Dragon or climbing upwards before the section of land you're on ends up underwater.
To back up for a moment to explain how you get into the whole running-and-gunning element, Trials of the Blood Dragon is a sequel to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. The voice of Rex Colt introduces the premise, revealing that his wife went missing leaving him to raise Roxanne and Slayter, who are not only bikers, but cybercommandos too. It is this duo that you'll control over the course of the relatively short game.
When on a bike, Trials of the Blood Dragon is at its best. The Blood Dragon theme and baffling storyline that takes you around the world lends itself to some amazing settings and stunning set pieces. It's classic Trials that requires you to carefully navigate jumps, dips, and obstacles. It also throws firearms into the mix so that you can take enemies down on the fly during some levels, which is more of a distraction than anything, and a grappling hook, which is actually quite fun as you fling yourself across impassable gaps.
However, it's the easiest Trials game in memory. While you will faceplant from time to time, no level feels insurmountable and unlike other entries in the franchise the timer ticks down rather than up. This makes it a race against the clock, but one that you're always the favourite to win.
Perhaps RedLynx should be credited for trying to mix up a familiar formula, but its efforts fall flat. There comes a point where after a few levels of platforming that you'll find yourself dreading that you'll be on foot. And all too often, you'll be disappointed, or you'll find yourself strapped to a jetpack, which doesn't feel much better.
One of the other elements that made Blood Dragon enjoyable was its tongue-in-cheek humour and willingness to parody. Again, Trials of the Blood Dragon's efforts feel underwhelming. There are some amusing, if not off-the-wall video segments, but the dialogue and moment-to-moment attempts fall flat.
Whether you were looking for a sequel to Blood Dragon or Trials, you will be disappointed. The Blood Dragon tie-in means that there are some interesting tracks and set pieces that would make Michael Bay proud, but this is a partnership that has sullied the otherwise stellar reputation of the Trials franchise.
4/10 - Mark O'Beirne