A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Trials of the Blood Dragon is a downloadable motorcycle action game with elements of platforming and side-scrolling combat. Players take control of a pair of young teen orphan siblings recruited into the military. They soon learn that their father, a soldier presumed dead, may still be alive and in need of rescue. The story, set in the near future, is actually a parody of 1980s-era action movies, with frequent jokes about Vietnam, communism, cartels, and Indiana Jones-style adventuring. Much of the humor is focused on violence, and the kids end up killing countless human and humanoid characters with a mix of guns and vehicles. Puffs of colorful blood often accompany enemy deaths. The dialogue has several lines in which "f--k" is bleeped out, and text on-screen frequently includes the words "s--t" and "damn." During one mission the kids are exposed to a high volume of a fictional narcotic called "turbocrank," causing them to hallucinate heavily.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
TRIALS OF THE BLOOD DRAGON melds Ubisoft's extreme motorcycle racing games with the 1980s action film parody Blood Dragon (a popular piece of downloadable content for Far Cry 3). It focuses on the young teenage kids of Blood Dragon's Rex Colt. Upon the apparent death of their dad, the siblings become cyber soldiers for the army. The pair embark on missions in settings ranging from Vietnam to Mars, driving motorcycles, bicycles, rail carts, and military vehicles into enemy strongholds, then disembarking and shooting their way to their targets. As in the original Trials games, vehicle sequences require players to carefully control the speed, momentum, and orientation of their rides as they jump over gaps and hazards. The on-foot segments, meanwhile, play out much like a traditional action platformer, with characters running, jumping, dodging, and shooting their way through maze-like obstacle courses. Between missions, the kids lounge in their bedroom drinking soda, playing games, changing costumes, and listening to music.
Is it any good?
Players who aren't familiar with 1980s action movies may not understand much of the humor in this game or get its countless references to films like The Terminator and On Deadly Ground. Older players with a bit more cinematic history, on the other hand, will likely let out frequent guffaws as Trials of the Blood Dragon leads them through sections of dialogue and plot twists both warmly familiar and patently ridiculous. Few games deliver jokes as rapidly -- or reliably funny -- as this one.
Sadly, what we get up to outside the story sequences isn't always as satisfying. Vehicle levels are by and large fantastic, exploiting the terrific physics-based mechanics that made earlier Trials games so popular while setting the action in wonderfully bizarre locations both of and not of this Earth. The riding never gets quite as difficult as it has been in previous games in the series, but it still requires a deft hand and plenty of patience. The platformer and action sequences are where things start to bog down. The controls for running and jumping are pretty clunky, and the level design is uninspired. Plus enemies tend to pop up with almost no warning and with no way to avoid their attacks, which will likely result in a lot of unavoidable deaths. The result is an inconsistent experience likely to make many players alternate between laughing aloud and wanting to toss their controllers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. Most levels in this game don't last much longer than a few minutes, making it easy to keep wanting to play just one more mission, so how do you deal with games like this to ensure you don't end up spending hours on end in front of the screen?
Talk about the concept of parody. Parodies poke fun of their subjects by recreating them with humorous intent, but do you think it's important to know the subject to understand the jokes? If the audience isn't familiar with the subject, could a parody be misinterpreted as serious or sincere?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $12.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: June 13, 2016
- Genre: Racing
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Drug Reference, Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.