I’ve heard it said that the simplest ideas are often the best; seatbelts, twitter… condoms. All of these things are so simple they make people slap their foreheads and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Trials HD was one of those ideas, and for the sequel RedLynx said, “Okay, let’s make it bigger and better, but keep the simplicity,” rather than cramming lots of new game mechanics in and spreading the game too thin-I’m looking at you here RAGE.
For those who have never played a Trials game, you must navigate a stunt bike to the finish line along a path filled with health hazards; from landmines and fiery pits of death to spiked wrecking balls. The controls are wonderfully simple: One button to accelerate, one button to brake, and the left thumbstick to lean forwards or backwards to balance your ride. There’s no need for steering controls as the game is 2.5D (2D path in 3D environment). This makes the game extremely accessible as you’ll know all the controls just from reading this review.
The aim is to reach the finish line in as quick a time and with as few faults/hilarious wipeouts as possible. Do you like the idea of being able to hit a button to instantly respawn at the last checkpoint when you inevitably tumble off a bridge or face first into a pile of carelessly placed dynamite? Good, cos you’ll be doing that a lot, though somehow Trials Evolution manages to even make failure fun, as wiping out can be fantastically funny thanks to the ragdoll physics. The only time the game becomes frustrating is when you find yourself failing at the same obstacle over and over again. Some obstacles in the hard and extreme tracks took me well over 50 attempts to get right, but thanks to the instant respawn and very frequent checkpoints, I often got through those 50 attempts in about 2-3 minutes, so the frustration is usually short-lived.
Tracks are classified into 5 difficulties, from beginner to extreme/dude, you be trippin’. If you’re new to Trials, even the medium tracks will be extremely challenging until you understand the physics involved in handling the bikes, but there are plenty of easier tracks you can spend time face-planting on to get the hang of it. When you finish a track, you’re awarded a medal from bronze to gold (platinum medals are unlocked for each track after completing the single player), depending on how quickly you finished the track and how many times you broke all your bones in the process. Getting gold or platinum medals usually requires 0 faults as well as a quick time so if you’re a perfectionist or prone to anger then free up your weekend and get your hands on plenty of scented candles and weed before you tackle the extreme tracks
The tracks and the environments that surround them are extremely varied and well-designed. Some tracks focus on speed and jumps whilst others are compact and focus on obstacles that require precise movements and timing to conquer. But the environments do more than serve as a backdrop to the tracks. Objects around the track shift, move and explode, as does the track itself from time-to-time (Pro tip: Watch out for that). Most of Trials Evolution’s tracks have outdoor, brightly-lit settings, as many players got tired of the dark and repetitive warehouse/factory environments of Trials HD.
If you have the attention span of a squirrel with ADD and somehow manage to get bored of the main game, there are a series of mini-games provided for some added amusement. These include a level that straps two wooden planks to your riders arms and challenges you to see how far you can fly after bailing off a ramp and others that replace your bike with skis or a spaceship. Some of these challenges provide a little extra comedy to the game.
But the crown-jewel in Trials Evolution’s crown of jewels is, without a doubt, its comprehensive suite of multiplayer and online features. If trying to beat your friends times on the leaderboards isn’t personal enough for you, you can race with up to 3 of them them side-by-side or with them appearing as a ghost on your screen. The most fun you can have in Trials is being in last place in a 4-player game and bailing off your bike at just the right moment to watch your flailing, ragdoll body launch past your friends and across the finish line as they cross you off their Christmas card list. It’s even funnier when everyone does it at once. The game also comes equipped with an astonishingly comprehensive track editor, which has already allowed players to create some unique and impressive levels to share with the world. The editor isn’t too user friendly, but then what level editor is? This feature, more than any other, makes Trials Evolution excellent value for money, as even if you earn every platinum medal and beat all your friends’ times, you can then spend hours designing and navigating your own creations or try your luck on someone else’s.
Trials Evolution is arguably the best game to ever hit the XBLA. I knew I was playing something special when I found myself struggling to find things wrong with it. The quality of XBLA games often suffers when developers try and make them as complex as full retail titles. RedLynx have shown that a great game doesn’t have to be a deep experience. Sometimes the best results come from keeping things simple, and you can’t get much more simple than a guy flying off a stunt bike and nose-diving into a sewage pipe stuffed with explosives.
Available on XBLA for 1200 MS Points/£10.20/€14.40/$15.00
You must be logged in to post a comment.