Trials Evolution – Review
By Anthony Fitchett
It is often the simplest ideas that spawn the greatest games. Since Excitebike on the NES or Motocross Simulator on the ZX Spectrum, we have all been drawn to the idea of getting yourself on a bike and struggling your way to the end of a difficult, nay almost impossible, course of obstacles.
It is probably the sheer exhilaration; that feeling of achievement against all the odds that draws us to them. And thanks to RedLynx we can all do it again! Trials Evolution is a follow up to their 2009 XBLA hit Trials HD and it has to be said it’s lived up to its name. Not a revolution but an evolution; a fine tuning, tightening up and bigger and better version of their previous title. But as they say, if it ain’t broke…
If you’ve never played Trials HD you’ve missed a trick, a fun blast through a warehouse of obstacles which usually results in a catastrophic crash and bang. With Trials Evolution, gone is the claustrophobic warehouse setting and you are now free to plough your way through a vast open environment with twists and turns helping you see the very best that this big bad world has to offer.
As a game formula it’s as simple as counting to three: 1) Bike, 2) Course, and 3) Rider, but as you can see even that can sometimes be more difficult than you’d expect.
Each level is a small slice, a cross section if you will, of the massive open world that Trials Evolution calls home. Between you and the finish line lie hills, troughs, piles of tires, buildings and all manner of obstacles between, all interspaced with jumps, raised walkways, steam emitting pipes and the odd clasping stone hand.
The game itself is played on a completely 2D plane: pull your right trigger to go faster and your left to apply your brakes. This frees up the left analogue stick to control the pitch and rotation of your bike and this is done – cleverly – by altering the position at which your rider is seated on the bike. Push right on the stick and your rider will lean out over the handlebars pushing his weight onto the front wheel; left and he leans back, adding the same effect to the rear wheel.
It doesn’t sound that difficult on paper: pull the trigger and power your way to the end. But with Trials Evolution – as with its predecessor – balance is everything. Lean forward too much on landing and you cartwheel out of control, your rider rag-dolling in a disturbing spin of flailing arms and legs.
So this makes your only task of getting to the finish line that little bit more difficult. Not to mention that you have to do this in a specified amount of time and a specific amount of restarts. Each of the levels are cut up into sections divided by generously spaced checkpoints to help avoid unnecessary repetition of the same section of track.
Often you find yourself up against the impossible; anything from a jump that requires perfect balance to land, to a gap so monumentally large after an unthinkably short run that it just seems ridiculous. It is at these times that you realise the brilliance of the checkpoint system.
A quick press of the B button and you’re placed back at the last checkpoint you passed to try and try again until you flick the analogue stick at just the right time and incredibly you land on the other side and speed away through the next checkpoint onto whatever impediment RedLynx has seen fit to put in your way next.
As with the first game, the trials themselves are only a small part of the full package, with challenges ranging from skiing down a course to flying your UFO to designated landing spots, with a decent Marble Madness clone thrown in for good measure. Each of these challenge levels are designed not only to test your skills but also to show you that the in-game level editor can be used for far more than creating mind-blowingly difficult courses.
It seems that RedLynx has opted to give you the tools to create whatever your mind can imagine, with a top-down shooter to an impressive Super Meat Boy clone already available to download and try. The level editor itself is a mighty piece of kit – putting you in mind of Little Big Planet on the PS3 – levels are created on the games open world but the start point and end points are all up to you.
With a simple click you select your start point and with a second your end point, or, if you’d rather, with a series of clicks you can plot a course with twists and turns along the way. What of the 1500+ items you place between these two points is completely up to you, with preplaced scenery removable and only your imagination to stop you, this world is yours for the taking.
As a complete package, Trials Evolution is nothing short of excellent, both challenging and fun whilst being just a little bit expletive inducing. It’s frustrating and addictive with that ‘just one more go’ factor that many games miss.
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Players: 1-4 (online multiplayer)
Release: 18th April, 2012
Initial Price: 1200 Microsoft points