In the fourteen years since the original Trials appeared on Windows and Mac platforms, RedLynx has quietly gone about building quite a fanbase. Although the games themselves may look simple at first glance, the physics based stunt racers have always had many layers of depth lurking just beneath the surface, waiting to drag newcomers in and liberate them of countless hours’ free time in the process.
With the launch of Trials Frontier on iOS (it’s coming later on Android), the company is taking the franchise to mobile platforms for the first time, and plenty of questions had been raised in the run up to release as to just how they’d manage to port over the nuanced, subtle controls to the touch-screen interface of smartphone and tablets.
These concerns have been very reasonable, given the fact that just the slightest overcorrection in previous games could spell the end of a gold medal run, causing ample frustration and even more swearing along the way. Unfortunately, despite the strides that many mobile games have been making on that front in recent times, Frontier isn’t without its niggles, and that makes for a gameplay experience that’s a little less fair than it should be in places.
As a free to play title, it’s easy to overlook some of the inconsistencies in the controls – after all, you haven’t forked over any of your hard-earned cash to play – but, as with most free-to-play games, there are other minor annoyances to contend with, too.
In a bid to convince you to spend some actual money in the game, RedLynx has included two in-game currency systems; diamonds and coins. The latter can be gathered simply by completing levels and objectives, but diamonds are much rarer beasts, and they’re necessary to have if you fancy any prolonged sessions with the game.
In typical FTP style, the length of your gameplay will be determined by whether or not you’re willing to spend diamonds on bypassing time limits, covertly hidden under the guise of “fuel” here. The more you play, the more fuel you burn, and once you’re out you’ll have the choice to either fork over some diamonds or wait around until you’ve recharged. For those who are planning on the odd play here and there and not much else, that’s fine, but Trials has always been an addictive blighter, so stepping away may not be as easy as you had hoped.
Visually, Frontier looks pretty great. It may not feature the most sophisticated graphics, but the bright and vivid colours really pop on the small screen, while there’s a surprising amount of variety within the various levels. The actual contents of the levels themselves has, sadly, taken a bit of a knock given the new platform, though.
RedLynx has countered this by adding in a bit of a story, and objective based missions that’ll help you progress that along the way. There’s nothing hugely interesting here, but it’s a nice break from the norm if nothing else, and it certainly opens the game up to newcomers and more casual players alike.
Trials Frontier is a decent little mobile title perhaps let down by the occasional unreliability of its host platforms’ touch interfaces and the fact that its bigger siblings have offered so much more in terms of level design. As an introduction to the franchise, though, it’ll do a fine job and win plenty of new fans.