Welcome to the Future. The Year is 2007.
Entire Story in Fewer Words than are in this Sentence:
Michael Biehn gives voice acting a go.
Despite being a love letter to 80s action films, Blood Dragon has very little in this category. Our lead, Rex “Power” Colt, makes constant references to balls, but, sadly, the balls in question are his own.
Rex also follows a rocket-launcher kill with “He said blow me, so I did.”
Then there is this exchange between Colt and his partner early in the game:
Spider: Men want to be like me…
Rex: And you want to be with men. I get it.
However, that just comes across as childish banter than a declaration of lust.
Oh, and even after claiming to be devoted only to Lady Liberty, Rex has sex with a woman who isn’t killed as a result. Very, very disappointing, to say the least.
Over the course of my play-through I killed somewhere around 550. That may seem impressive, but remember: this is a video game, not a film. Family-friendly Nathan Drake is able to rack up the type of body count that makes a Serbian war criminal green with envy. So 550 floaters is a pathetic effort for a video game.
The body count may be lacking, but Blood Dragon excels in variety. We get the standard gunfire (with exploding heads); shuriken kills (that can blow heads up); rocket launchers (exploded heads everywhere); and a knife that can decapitate someone before they can shout “fair trade.” Blood Dragon also has a flamethrower and it is fucking awesome. Victims run around screaming, before succumbing to the flames of glory.
Although nothing can top luring one of the titular beasts into an enemy base, and watch it make lunch out of their heads. It’s akin to watching a crocodile enter a nursing home.
Pre-Mortem One Liner:
“I’m tucking you into your death bed, and your blanket is six feet of my shit.“
After using a rocket launcher to take the lives of 15 people, Rex celebrates by singing “It’s raining men!”
How Bad is it Really:
Blood Dragon is pretty damn good. While the easy route would have been to go down the ironic snark path, Blood Dragon actually has a lot of genuine affection for the decade that style forgot. The post-apocalyptic neon landscapes look like what Brian De Palma would have produced if he was shackled to Cannon. Michael Biehn is hysterical as Rex, balancing the fucking ridiculous with the sublime. Everybody else swears inappropriately. The synth-wave score by Aussie group Power Glove is incredible. Even the screen comes with VHS grain and scan-lines. The level of detail here is staggering. This is the game 80s kids would dream of while waiting for their Commodore to boot up a fucking image that struggled to show more than three colors.
That said, the game has a few negatives making it fall short of brilliant. The open world game-play does become quite tedious; having to constantly move to the base to get a mission, then move to the mission location, and then move back to base for the next mission. The pistol, despite looking like RoboCop’s, is woefully inadequate at blowing heads or dicks off. And while it is funny to hear Rex cackle “I think he got the point,” it does lose its impact by the time you’ve sent the forty-fifth goon to hell on a crossbow bolt.
Still, all this is negated when I remember that with one button I can raise a middle finger to a day-glo sporting Nazi I’ve just thrown off a cliff.
Was There a Stupid Chief?
Kind of. Rex’s old commander is the game’s villain and he spouts a load of nonsense about a new world order and how Rex stands in the way. Luckily enough, he’s eating Rex’s combat boots with broken teeth by the end.
Stupid Political Content:
Once again, after all the allusions to 80s action, Blood Dragon falls in this department. Instead of tackling some commie who wants to feed his village, Rex is fighting a war-mongering lunatic who wants to create a fascist utopia with a national anthem by Giorgio Moroder. Oliver North didn’t misappropriate funds for this!
There is a moment when Rex turns down medicine claiming that “Winners don’t use drugs!” but this is a tongue-in-cheek jibe at D.A.R.E’s old arcade machine messages than a full-on endorsement of the drug wars.
The game does seem to insinuate that Reagan’s macho posturing resulted in the Second Vietnamese War, and a nuclear holocaust. Again, this is less stupid than it is worryingly accurate.
Overall, Blood Dragon leans more to Oliver Stone than John Milius.
What You Learned:
I was born twenty years too late.