In 2009, the Xbox Live Arcade received a huge boost with some great downloadable titles that showed exactly what the service would continue to bring to the market for years afterwards. One of those games was Trials HD, a game that combined motorbikes with platforming and physics to great success and critical acclaim. Now, in 2012, a sequel has been released with the sub title Evolution practically summing up what this new Trials entry brings.
A lot has changed from the original game, levels are no longer unlocked through basic progression of completing a stage and then continuing to the next one, instead you need to gain medals to unlock a new set of levels, each tier of difficulty has its own licence that you also need to get before progressing. This could become troublesome to those new to the gameplay or for those progressing through the later & ultimately harder levels. Gold medals require the player to complete a race without bailing and within a time limit, this could have become really frustrating, really quickly with some levels lasting for at least 15 minutes at a time, this would be a problem but luckily towards the end of the game, the levels allow the player to bail a few times before the gold medal is lost. Checkpoints are scattered throughout each race, but to get a gold medal, you will have to restart from the beginning of the track, this means late falls can be extremely annoying. In Trials HD, you could play around, have fun doing ridiculous flips, but this games structure kind of removes any incentive to do these kinds of things as doing so could cost you a gold medal and means restarting the level.
Trials Evolution offers a lot more variety than its previous entry, this is consistent with level design, special stages and challenge. It keeps the game from getting boring and means that an extended playtime is a more likely outcome of sitting down and playing this game. Because of the nature of the difficulty and the way levels unlock, you will be playing several levels for a long, long time, over and over again until you finally nail that one tricky jump, only to fail a few seconds later and restarting again. This repeating of levels may bore and frustrate some people, but if you have enjoyed other arcade titles that have a similar kind of progression (Super Meat Boy etc.), then you will be right at home here.
Other than those changes, the core gameplay is the same satisfying and fun physics based controls that emulate the weight shifting balancing act of riding a motorcycle. There really is no substitute for this type of experience. Having a simple set of gameplay mechanics that don’t change, but the level structures do means that the developers can create almost unlimited amounts of levels and there are a lot on offer here.
Unlimited levels is actually a possibility thanks to the level editor, only this ‘level’ editor allows users to create different genres of game and offers two different set of tools for those who want to just play around with simple tools, or for those who want to go in depth, changing varying physics and appearance options. On day one, this game already had some really interesting levels already made, one problem has made its way over from LittleBigPlanet however, is that a lot of the user created levels/games are just imitations of existing games given a Trials Evolution spin. The developers RedLynx have included a few bonus stages of their own to give players a quick idea of the possibilities of the level editor. They range from throwaway mini-games, to games that don’t even resemble Trials gameplay in the slightest.
The multiplayer featured in this game is pretty basic, but it does allow up to four players, online or offline, to play together competitively across several of the tracks from the single player and even allows for specific user made tracks to be played in private matches. It’s fast and frantic, something that makes the experience even more exciting than it already is.
The biggest negative that can be taken from Trials Evolution is the overall presentation of the game. The graphics aren’t exactly spectacular and take a while to load in every time you restart a level. The actual design of the levels is great, lots of variety and themes, it is just a shame the graphics don’t let the developer add a bit of shine to them. The sound design and general choice of music in this game is horrendous, bike sounds drone on, the music is a mix of metal/punk that shouldn’t appeal to even fans of the genres and the rider won’t be slow to let his excitement of a huge jump be known with outbursts of stupid phrases that add nothing at all.
Overall Trials Evolution is the same brilliant gameplay from Trials HD, given a new life thanks to the added variety and more balanced difficulty curve. The new unlock system may frustrate some and the game needs a bit of polish in the presentation, but this game is still one of the best Xbox Live Arcade game available and you should probably go buy it.
Trials Evolution is available from the Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points.