Microsoft Game Studios
There are few things as beautiful in the gaming world as a perfectly executed run in one of the trickier levels of the wonderful Trials HD. Released back in 2009 the title showed just how successful digitally distributed titles could be on Microsoft’s Xbox 360. It went on to become one of the biggest sellers on the Xbox Live Arcade Marketplace, winning the plaudits of all who played it for its simplistic approach to physics based racing – leaving us in no doubt that a sequel was bound to be just around the corner. Somewhat strangely, given the current gaming environment, that corner actually transpired to be three years down the line but, with Trials Evolutions, it has certainly been worth the wait.
Just like the original, the theory underpinning the Trials experience couldn’t possibly be any simpler. You control a guy on a motorbike who needs to make it across the track in the fastest time possible. Your controls are limited to accelerating and shifting your weight forwards or backwards. That’s it. There are no swanky bells, and certainly no fancy whistles to be seen anywhere here. You simply get on your bike and go from A to B without falling off.
However, like all simple games, things are never quite as simple as they would at first appear to be on face value, for your character must do constant battle with the scourge of physics. Lean too far backwards, and up comes the front wheel sending you sprawling, lean too far forward and you’ll topple over the handlebars taking the bike with you. Get your weighting wrong when it comes to landing a huge jump and you’ll find yourself face first in the dirt.
Therein lies not only the game’s greatest strength, in that you will continually keep coming back for more (or hitting the back button to restart each track whenever you find yourself thrown from your bike), but also its oddest quality – it doesn’t matter how frustrated you get, nor how much you hate the game, nor how early you need to be up for work in the morning, because you will continually come back to Trials Evolution time and time again.
It’s a fine line that few games ever manage to get right, yet it’s the second time in as many titles that RedLynx has completely knocked it out of the ballpark on that front.
Graphically, Trials Evolution is serviceable. It looks well, insomuch as it doesn’t suffer from any graphical issues. It ploughs along at a rock solid frame rate, never wavering for even a split second, meaning that you don’t ever have to factor in things that are out of your control when it comes to chalking up the best possible times on the track.
Everything takes place over a 2D plane which occasionally masquerades as a 3D one, and the backdrops do occasionally hold something of vague interest beyond the usual dirt tracks or sky, or trees. However, it couldn’t be said that it’s a great looking game. Those of you who focus on graphics primarily (shame on you) may need to fight extra hard to fall in love with Evolution, but it’s going to be worth it.
In terms of game modes, players are well looked after. The single player mode tasks you with racking up enough medals to unlock each of the next license types. Once that’s done you’ll have additional tracks to play your way through before repeating the process. It’s an enjoyable, if occasionally frustrating experience, and if you’re the type of person who likes to continually push for better times, then it’s going to last you a long, long time.
However, Trials Evolution is all about the multiplayer for us. Whether you’re taking on players in real time or putting forward your best times to see who’s the crème de la crème of your friends, there’s a huge sense of competition and community on offer. Leaderboards have been making a comeback in recent times, and Evolution is another fine example of their re-emergence.
If you’re still looking for more to keep you busy, then there’s two flavours of track creation on offer to you too. For most people, the Lite Editor will be more than sufficient for the vast majority of players, however those who have a thing for obscenely complicated nut and bolt tweaking will get serious kicks out of the Pro Editor, and there are already some phenomenal examples of creativity available to download – so even if you’re not a level creation Picasso yourself, you’ll be able to check out other people’s handiwork.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing half hour’s play or a frustrating all-nighter, Trials Evolution is more than capable of providing the goods – just be warned that the former tends to turn into the latter more often than not!