Trials Evolution Review
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: April 18, 2012
Platforms: Xbox 360
The Short: Trials is back again, with the core formula remaining
Evolution is well worth the points
As someone who has had no prior experience with the Trials franchise, I didn’t expect anything huge since it was only an XBLA title and most have failed to meet what the hype set up. Yet I was completely taken back by Trials Evolution, it had more content than several retail releases and was definitely more enjoyable. From what I’ve seen of Trails HD, evolution has similar aesthetics but brings a massive setting change to the franchise. Trials HD was mostly set in abandoned warehouses but within the first 3 levels you’ve gone from a D-Day landing track to a baseball field. The track editor only adds the possibility for even more ridiculous maps. The Skill Games by themselves are really enough to warrant the 1200 MS Points, they bring an arcade aspect to the rarely monotonous single player campaign.
The fundamental core that was established in Trials HD appears to have been untouched. Your two trigger buttons are still gas and brake. The left analog stick handles the leans. The trick is to always feather the intentionally over-sensitive controls, gradually manipulating the bike into doing what you want it to. Push too hard in either direction, and you’ll crash. Apply too much gas or brake too quickly, and you’ll crash. Land at anything other than the correct angle… and yes, you will indeed crash. In truth there’s very little in the game that you can do to avoid crashing which is why you can also press the B button at any time to instantly zap yourself back to the most recent checkpoint, a feature used quite often.
Fortunately, there are more tracks to choose from in Evolution and they’re all well-designed, and they’re also set in a range of completely unexpected locations. There’s no small number of standard MX-looking environments, but there are many others mixed in that nod to different facets of our culture. One early track sends you wheeling across the beaches of Normandy. In another, you’ll leap out into open air and see your bike silhouetted against a blood-red sky as wolves howl in the distance. In yet another, you’ll swear that you’re looking at the XBLA game Limbo. And that’s because the track is, in fact, modeled after that platformer. For a game with such a simple hook, it’s pretty amazing to see the level of spectacle that RedLynx has managed to cram in and even more amazing to see what the community has produced.
The track creator also returns, which allows players to upload their designs to RedLynx’s servers, and download other player’s tracks. As is often the case, we needed to wade through a lot of ‘spam’ to find the few excellent tracks. It doesn’t help, unfortunately, that it will take heaps of patience and experience to endure Evolution’s incredibly complicated track creation controls. It took us an hour to create a basic track with a start point, finish line, and a few simple ramps in between which can leave you quite frustrated at the few spoils for your hours of work. If you enjoy investing time in user-generated content, there’s no shortage of options, but don’t expect the accessibility found in other titles such as something like Little Big Planet.
Split-screen Co op is another new addition to Evolution. A refreshing change from the stock standard online match making that most games decide to go with. A whole set of modified maps can be played with anywhere from 2-4 players, RedLynx have done a great job making sure the screen doesn’t become cluttered and impossible to tell where your racer is. As well as balancing the Split-screen so that even if you make a few mistakes you have the opportunity to take the lead. Another hilarious activity in Co-op is to enable the bailout finish, meaning even if you’re dead in last you can launch your rider soaring through the air and to seize a come back victory.
Trials Evolution’s boldest achievement is that it manages to be a racing game, a platformer, and a puzzle game depending on which track we’re playing. In the beginning, the game taught us the basics of riding by introducing fast courses in which speed takes priority. This allowed us to master the basics without much difficulty, but with plenty of excitement. Before long, the courses shift and become more about leaping difficult gaps and keeping the right amount of momentum at the right times, much like a platformer. By the end of the game, we were studiously examining a sheer cliff face, trying to figure out how in the hell they expected us to get up there on a motorcycle.
The ultimate thrill of Trials has always been in shaving seconds from your times and climbing your way up the leaderboard, but at times this has made it a game that appeals to a hardcore fanbase while excluding the masses. The greatest effect of this new stage in Trials’s evolution is that it provides a more accessible and satisfying structure without diluting what has always worked. Trials HD was a game we could recommend, but with a warning that it might not be for you. With Trials Evolution, that verdict applies with no reservations.
Trials Evolution retains the core Trials DNA, but puts it at the centre of a bigger, better-looking and more accessible game. It’s still brutally difficult and demanding of real player skill, yet nothing is impossible if you’re prepared to learn and keep trying. Whether you’re hardcore or casual, a Trials fan or a mewcomer, this is another Xbox Live Arcade essential.