What I like most is that the game doesn’t take itself seriously for a moment, and it’s not above poking fun at other games too. My favourite moment was when Rex, the ‘cyber commando’ you play, finds one of the many collectible TVs scattered across the island and remarks “At least it’s not a f**king feather” in a sly dig at a certain other Ubisoft franchise with a penchant for inane collecting. There are plenty of other amusing quips from Rex throughout: at one point he’s tasked with a ‘mission’ to kill a mutant cassowary with only a pistol, prompting the remark “That doesn’t even make SENSE!”
However, despite the clear aim at humour throughout, the game is excellent in its own right. Being built on the Far Cry 3 engine it looks stunning, and the combat is varied, giving you the opportunity to go for an all-out attack or use a bit o’ the old stealth. Another option is to lure one of the titular blood dragons into the lair of your enemies, providing suitably grisly and morbidly hilarious results.
Speaking of the blood dragons, your first introduction to them is one of the game’s high points. Left to die in a cave full of the blighters, your only option is to sneak past the beasts in a tense game of hide and seek. They prove to be formidable, almost invincible opponents, but in a satisfying turnaround, by the end the game provides you with enough firepower to make mincemeat of their scaly hides.
Speaking of firepower, one of the reasons the game is so fun is that it ramps up your powers to ridiculous levels. Being a cyber commando, from the very beginning you have the power to survive falls from any height and sprint endlessly, but you unlock more and more abilities as the game progresses that only add to the mayhem. The various ‘takedown’ manoeuvres are a blast, and the final mission takes the firepower up to ludicrous levels… although I won’t spoil it for you here.
It’s the perfect length too: I finished it in around 8 hours, although that time included a bit of fannying about to get some Achievements (normally I wouldn’t bother with Achievements, but I was enjoying myself so much I decided to dabble). Eight hours is just about right for a game I reckon – long enough to provide good value for money, but not long enough to outstay its welcome. One of the reasons I put off playing Mass Effect for so long was that I knew I’d end up sinking 30+ hours into it, and the thought of starting something that might end up taking a month to complete was just too draining. I find this with a lot of games these days – I’m tired of enormous, bloated games with ridiculous running times. Give me a game like Enslaved any day – 8 hours of solid fun and quality, not 30 hours of padding.
The only slight problem I had with Blood Dragon is that the difficulty curve goes in the wrong direction. It starts off quite hard – indeed, the hardest part is probably the first mission – but as you unlock more of Rex’s abilities, the game gets easier and easier. But to be honest, I was having too much fun blowing up neon dinosaurs with laser eyes to care.
[As dictated in a suitably gravelly voice by Lucius Merriweather.]