The Trials franchise is already a well established force. We loved the original title, Trials HD, so it was with much anxiety and admittedly a handful of doubt, that we approached Trials Evolution – thankfully it didn’t dissapoint.
Trials Evolution from the get-go is a daunting challenger. Gone is the dark, moody and somber warhouse setting from the origina game. Players now confronted with rolling green hills, night-time settings and much more. The game now boasts a whooping 57 odd tracks, an expanded level editor, a revamped multiplayer and more mini-games than you can shake a flaming stick at. From the start there’s no mistaking that the team at RedLynx have established Trials Evolution on the foundation of what made the original title such a buzz to play. For those not versed – the controls are simple: use the left stick to control the movement of the bike, the left trigger to brake and the right trigger to accelerate. Simple right? Wrong, the Trials franchise is already well known for its ability to frustrate and perplex gamers. This isn’t down to bad game design or game breaking bugs, in fact, it’s completely the opposite.
Some of the later levels, the ones that require the most amount of attention, are hand-crafted to offer you a selection of courses that will equally challenge as they will punish you for one mistake. Forget to accelerate at that precise moment? Forget to aim the bike forwards during a jump, before slamming on the brakes as you arch backwards at precisly the right moment? Trials Evolution will chew you up and spit you out. Make no mistake about it: this game allows the casual gamers in and just enough space to breath – but it will work the hardcore audience harder than anything ever before.
While in essence this is a great thing, the tightness of the controls can sometimes lead you to frustration which will no doubt, and unwittingly, mean some gamers will drop their controller – never to pick it up again. Take for example bunny hops. An intricate maneuver to say the last, gamers are asked to accelerate the bike harshly to bring it up on the back wheel then flick the analog stick at the right moment before slamming the accelerator again to perform the move. The learning curve might not be as sharp as the previous Trials outing – but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier. The later levels, known as the “Inferno” levels, can only be unlocked towards the later stages of the game. With the later levels awarding even the most hardended verterans of the franchise with a worrying sweat, the Inferno levels will literally devour your soul – well not literally, but you get the point. Requiring mastery of the game, these levels will not only intoxicate you with tension, but demand nothing short of a draining period of absolute attention from the player.
With the campaign offering you levels that range from easy to hard, there’s also a rather extensive selection of mini-games to flick though. More tongue-in-cheek than the campaign, the mini-games swap things up dramatically and are peppered with game/movie references. One mini-game in particular pays tribute indie smash Limbo. A side-scrolling black and white mini-game, the level is aptly named “The Trials of Limbo”. As loyal as you can get without facing a legal battle with small white-eyed virtual characters, The Trials of Limbo gives you a good idea of just how random the mini-games will become. Each mini-game, once completed, will update a general leaderboard – so there is a strong sense of competition even outside of the main campaign itself that will see the longevity of said mini-games last just as long as the campaign itself.
While the single player side of Trials Evolution will offer you a fresh, addictive and sustainable experience, it’s really when you boot up the multiplayer side to the game that it takes on a life of its own. The multiplayer portion of the game is split into two sections: multiplayer gaming and downloadable content. The multiplayer experience is now above and beyond what came before with the game supporting 4 players on screen at once. This might sound like the industry norm, the fun and exhilaration that comes with 4 people racing to the goal, ragdolls physics, dodgey flips and the general mayhem that the Trials franchise enplores is something that you won’t find in any other title. With the single player races taxing you with some of the most intense and demanding moments in your time with Trials Evolution, the multiplayer becomes a sedative – one that you can’t help but embrace. While the multiplayer side of Trials Evolution will offer you an almost flawless experience, it does come with some negative points too. Hitting the dirt with 4 players will undoubtedly cause confusion at first with 4 players speeding, flipping and moving around on the screen at once. Each player is designated with a virtual plane which ranges from the foreground to the background. With this detail in mind, it’s not uncommon for players to lose their concentraion for just one moment – which will result in crashing. Starting a new game means players will appear on a different “layer” in the track – this mental adjustment and change in the your concentration might cost you your game ultimately. That aside, there’s always a question about lag when it comes to a multiplayer experience, and if the game suffers from it. While it’s not exactly a game breaker, lag does appear in small doses. It’s not enough to destroy the game thankfully, but there is a little bit of it here and there. With multiplayer based soley around playing with friends, the downloable content side of things on the other hand is based on community creations instead. Players can wade throught thousands of created tracks and mini-games – all of which are free and to our amazement, download lightning fast.
RedLynx, before release, were touting the creation kit to be the most detailed to date – and they haven’t dissapointed – the creation kit is now bigger and better than ever. Beefed up, the editor caters to those that wish to stick to basic editing as well as the smaller, arguably more hardcore, fans that wish to get neck deep in the fundamentals of design, production and execution. The tools, the same used by the team to assemble the game itself, will make you realise just how much work goes into one single track – an interesting realisation that will stick with you from that point onwards. Tracks can be as simple as a starting point, an ending point and a obstacles and blocks to get around, but can also delve much deeper into the imagination of users thanks to a bevy of all sorts of trinkets at your disposal. Don’t want to make a single player map? No problem – you can also make mini-games. Mini-games are free to download so there’s a seemingly endless supply of content that will appease even the hardiest of riders.
Trials Evolution is indeed an evolution of sorts. A wealth of new content, an expanded editor tool and a robust multiplayer experience means Trials Evolution is a must buy for both the casual and hardcore market. Offering a exciting drop-in and drop-out experience, Trials is back and it’s better than ever.
TGL Score 9/10
Format: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: Out Now