I don’t know what it is, but there is something incredibly satisfying about mastering what seem like insurmountable obstacles. Trials Evolution is built upon that idea. The Trials games are incredibly simple to pick up and play for the first time player. All you have to worry about is accelerate and brake with the analog triggers and leaning your rider forward or back on the bike with the left stick. Oh, and B, the retry checkpoint button, you’ll use that a lot.
What you can do with those simple controls is pretty wild, you can zoom down and up hills, flip over jumps and ride through loops – possibly while on fire – all while trying to avoid pits, explosive barrels, spiked balls and other hazards. When you have beaten a course, then immediately go again and again until you memorize every climb, every flip, when to back up for a run up, where to quickly brake, and maybe when to bail off the bike at the finish line. All to achieve the perfect run. All this to get the gold medal and more importantly to beat your friends time on the leaderboard.
Back in 2009, RedLynx brought their Trials game to console with Trials HD, and it truly hit gold. They’d had mild success on PC and despite that, the Trials HD release on Xbox 360 as part of the Summer of Arcade went on to sell nearly two million copies. It was such a good game that initially you have to wonder what they would put into a sequel? The answer is: variety!
Trials Evolution has improved every part of Trials in the sequel. First up is the visual upgrade, it’s not very noticeable with the bikes and rider, but they’ve added a good whack of detail. They even let you customize parts for your bike and clothing for the rider, as well as let you pick your favourite patterns and colours. Next is the very noticeable change of environment. Gone are the dank warehouse tracks, replaced with a huge variety of indoor and outdoor tracks running over, above and through an island with mines, spooky hills, collapsing bridges, docks, battlefield trenches, wrecked cars, motocross, construction yards, buildings, castles, loops, jumps, pipes, jets of water and elevators.
The engine and track creator they used has become so versatile that there are even quite a few tribute tracks in very different styles, such as the moonlit stonehenge track, silhouetted Limbo track, or the gravity changing Inception track. The courses feel much more like tracks now too with corners letting the path weave over and around interesting terrain. This is very noticeable in the epic 10-20 minute long Giga Track.
Next in line for improvements is teaching you the skills you need. As I said, the basic controls are simple to learn for anyone, but the first game didn’t really explain any of the advanced techniques and left you to figure that stuff out for yourself. In Trials Evolution they added in License tracks before every new difficulty bracket opens up. In these tracks they introduce you to a new bike and a new set of skills to get past the next set of tracks.
The novelty challenge tracks have been expanded as well, with tasks such as launching off your bike with wings strapped to your arms to see how far you can fly, dirt skiing, UFO piloting, Marble Madness like challenges – driving with an object over your head that has a giant marble in it that you must balance – going through courses with full throttle and lastly seeing how far you can get on limited fuel. They add a good mix of challenges, but also show how versatile the track editor is, which leads to the next point, the new community track editor.
Trials HD had a track editor, yet had no way to share your creations outside of your friends list. That’s great if you have creative friends; not so good if you don’t. Trials Evolution has added a whole in-game marketplace of user created tracks, with RedLynx picks, Categories and User ratings. This game basically has user-generated infinite DLC. And with a dedicated fan base of devious minds, it is incredible how tough and varied some of the tracks are already.
RedLynx provided some of their created tracks on launch, with their own versions of Foosball, a vertical shooter, a first person shooter, Angry Birds, Splosion Man and more. Also, any regular track in the game can be opened in the editor and deconstructed to start as the basis for a new track. The download file sizes are tiny too, so you can happily grab as many new ones as you like.
Last but not least is multiplayer, the one glaring thing that Trials HD didn’t have. There’s up to four player side by side supercross courses, with stacking riders popped back in as others cross the next checkpoint with a race to the finish. These can be played local or online. There’s also the online only, head to head races through the single player tracks. The other racers appear as ghosts, so you can see how they are going, but can’t crash into each other.
Of course, the leaderboard integration of the last game is still there to taunt you to get better time. In every track with a dot appearing on the timeline above you with their gamertag, so you can see if they are ahead of you. You may want to set this to only show a selected rival though, otherwise it’ll look like a swarm of bees with names.
My only downside for the game is the way you need medals to unlock progressive difficulty tracks. Eventually, most players are going to hit a difficulty wall and won’t be able to score the extra medals needed to buy into the next difficulty and may never see those courses. Also, bunny hopping and the 250 cc bike that is constantly flipping over that you need to do them is a pain in the ass.
Trials Evolution is such an easy game to recommend to anyone. It’s simple to learn and hard as hell to master, but is satisfying when you do. Also, the unlimited DLC of this game means you could be trying something new every time you play and that’s hard not to see value in.
Trials Evolution is out now on Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points.