Game: Trials Evolution
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Available on: Xbox LIVE Arcade Only
Back in 2009, Xbox LIVE Arcade promotions didn’t come around quite so often, but it was the Summer of Arcade which brought us one of the best downloadable titles released on consoles; Trials HD. Later available as a triple pack boxed copy with ‘Splosion Man and Limbo, RedLynx really had a huge task on their hands to better Trials HD, but thankfully, with Trials Evolution they have, and then some.
Whilst Trials HD was far from being an “ugly” game, Evolution straight away appears the most apt name RedLynx could have chosen, as from the moment the first race loads up the player is greeted with astonishing visuals. It only gets better too, with homages to other downloadable titles such as Limbo, there has been a concerted effort to make Trials Evolution a visual feast as well as a gameplay one. Be it the gloom of the darkness or a nuclear meltdown, and everything in between, these newly populated environments are teeming with life, with the racer going in and out of the course in a sort of 2.5D technique. There’s a lot less underground and a lot more overground too, with vistas on display as you career in and out of the dirt tracks.
Every so often with a quick restart you may see a texture pop in, and there’s a very slight concern that sometimes the visuals can make certain courses a little imprecise, but Trials isn’t really about visuals, it is about punishing yet rewarding gameplay. You see, the Trials games aren’t casual fodder, they are games that require dedication, becoming a damned addiction if given the chance, the quintessential “one more go” game. Oh sure, at first you’ll think you are the master of all you survey, breezing through the easy courses and earning the first few licences, but suddenly and without warning, you’re sat in your pants at midnight wondering where everyone else in the room went, before realising you don’t actually care and picking up the controller to play some more Trials Evolution. Yeah, that kind of addiction.
What’s new though, I mean, what can you actually do with this type of game? Well, for starters you can create a veritable plethora of new courses and tracks, with themes and beauty throughout; some short, some painfully long, making that first crash right near the finish line controller snappingly agonising. But therein lies the beauty of Trials, akin to titles like Super Meat Boy, if you mess up it is your fault. The twitch nature of the dirt bikes as you put the throttle on, throttle off, lean in, out, in, bunny hop…just thinking about it stirs something primeval that lurks in all gamers, no matter how grizzled and cynical they may be.
You see, Trials Evolution is the one true good, whilst also being the devil personified in gaming form, and now they’ve added multiplayer so your friends can see you failing right before their eyes. Up to four people can race on screen, but you aren’t really just racing each other. The courses retain the same fiendish difficulty they have when going solo, but now you have the distraction of knowing your friends are leaving you behind, or worst still, are right behind you.
Back to the single player, and how the game actually plays. At first, even veterans may feel something amiss, something different. But half an hour in – after the thousandth quick restart – suddenly you realise Trials hasn’t changed, you have. You’ve gotten older, old man, and you need to sharpen up and get your shit together, because that little avatar dude won’t get gold medals on his own; and by God will you want to get gold medals.
At first it may seem enough to just “silver” a course, but then you realise that to unlock more (harder) courses you need more medals and you’re sure you can get the gold you missed 10 races back; an essential madness. As you’d expect, courses get progressively harder and, new to the series, you’ll also have to pass licence tests, which are basically tutorials making sure you are up to scratch, skills wise, before heading out into the real Trials, the expert courses and platinum trophies.
Aside from the main racing aspect, there is – as there was with Trials HD – some mini-games to have fun with. These range from the ridiculous (suicide jumping from your bike then mashing buttons to flap your cardboard wings to get the furthest distance you can) to the even more ridiculous (moving a UFO via your bike, from zone to zone). They aren’t much more than a distraction from the core racing, but are a pleasant inclusion nonetheless.
Of course, leaderboards and ghost data return and will feed players with more desire to go and beat their friends, or even watch the number one player on any given track, before – mouth agape – saying out loud “How do they do that?”. There’s more than ever to do in Trials Evolution, somehow RedLynx have squeezed more content than is imaginable into the package. Not least of which are the creation tools, offering both a basic and advanced method, even those without a penchant for creation will be able to get tracks up and running in no time at all. There will be people out there creating special tracks, simply because RedLynx used these tools themselves to create the incredible tracks that are already included in the game. You can rate, download and share the tracks and there are plenty of tools to bring the best to the forefront, as well as the option to report inappropriate things when you see them.
VERDICT: It’s a cliché to say it, but RedLynx have done it again. Not content with having one of the best downloadable titles under their belt, RedLynx now have two. Bursting with luscious content that will make your palms sweaty and your brow furrowed, Trials Evolution is an absolute celebration of gaming euphoria.
Every inch of this product deserves applause, admiration and respect. You may have forgotten how addictive Trials was, but Evolution hasn’t. You have a new taskmaster, now go to her, madness and joy awaits, as do the plaudits and awards for RedLynx.