TRIALS EVOLUTION (2012) – REDLYNX
When Microsoft announced their ‘Arcade Next’ imitative a few weeks ago, you would have been forgiven for thinking that Minecraft would be the star of the show – after all, its been a while coming and if its success on PC is anything to go by it will sell like hotcakes. I for one couldn’t give a damn when the announcement was made, because it was Trials Evolution, the sequel to the ever popular Trials HD, which caught my eye. Since its release last Wednesday it has been smashing sales records on Xbox Live, achieving the highest grossing sales ever on the day of release for an Arcade game. I suspect like myself many will be pleased with their purchase.
The basic formula has not changed – Trials Evolution is still the same game you know and love, as you guide a trial biker through a series of increasingly difficult 2D courses in a 3D world. You still only need two buttons (right trigger to accelerate, left trigger to brake) and one control stick (the left stick alters the balance of your rider) to complete the game. From hereon in however, it really is an evolution of Trials HD. This time round you will have to pass licence tests once you have accumulated enough medals (split between bronze, silver, gold and later platinum on each course depending on your completion time and number of faults) to open up the more difficult tracks. You also gain money for passing tracks, which can be used to buy new gear for your fully customisable rider.
The biggest evolutions by far have taken place in the stages that you will play through. In Trials HD, the entire game took place in a warehouse setting. Trials Evolution offer players literally a whole new world to play in via the way of a new 2 x 4 km outdoor environment, which is such a simple change but offers a wealth of new challenges and design opportunities. The other huge change is that the tracks can now curve, again adding a whole new dimension to track design. RedLynx clearly took advantage of this new freedom by creating some simply superb levels. Alongside good old fashioned hill climbs, motocross crawls and a few throwbacks to Trials HD, there are levels taking place in a Gulf War battle, a scenic trip through ancient moving structures, a rollercoaster, and even references to other popular games and franchises – there is a black and white tribute to LIMBO, and one game throws physics out the window in a homage to the city bending scene from Inception. There’s also a new raft of skill games to play which includes amongst other things throwing away the bike for skis and landing a UFO spacecraft. The amount of content is quite staggering.
And the best thing is that RedLynx have made this world available to everyone to use via a track editor feature. Split into two modes, Lite and Pro, you can create your own tracks in the new environment and customise them how you want using over 1,500 bits of scenery and effects. If you are feeling properly ambitious, you can even use the Pro Editor to create entirely new game scenarios; want to play Angry Birds with a trial biker? You can do it. Getting bored of Call of Duty and want another FPS? You can make one. Can’t be arsed to go to the bowling alley? Design your own and play it. The tools are your disposal are simply mind boggling, and all of your creations can be shared with the rest of the world via a download menu where you can access everybody else’s creations as well. The editing tools can be daunting for beginners, but the developers have created a series of tutorials online for budding creators to study to get the best out of the mode. Trials Evolution can easily claim to be one of the most inventive games around – your move LittleBigPlanet.
Not content with allowing us to make our own games, RedLynx have also slapped a brand new multiplayer mode into Trials Evolution as well. On specially designed Supercross tracks, you and three other players can race each other (both locally and on Xbox Live) on the same screen using a four lane track heavily reminiscent of Excitebike. With penalties for mucking up and getting too far behind the leader, it’s a frantic affair and is bloody good fun. On Live you can also have direct head to head action on Trials courses with other players, while setting times in the single player while connected to Xbox Live will mean your scores appear on leaderboards – allowing for bragging rights when you shave a tenth off of your mate’s records.
Now you might be reading this as a hardcore Trials fan and thinking ‘they’ve softened it up’ – rest assured, Evolution still takes no prisoners with its difficulty levels. While the first few levels are admittedly a breeze and tutorials are now included in tests to help you know what to do, the famous difficulty curve sets in about half way through, and ends with a few tracks in the ‘Extreme’ section that will no doubt have mere mortals smashing controllers in fury. I would say overall that it’s a more forgiving title than Trials HD, but it’s a comparison in the same sense that falling from the 3rd floor of a building is slightly more forgiving than falling from the 4th floor – you will need to put in a lot of time to master the game.
With Trials Evolution, the bar for downloadable titles to strive for has been notched a bit higher. A pretty poor soundtrack aside, this is an outstanding game – simple to pick up, ridiculous to master, gorgeous to look at, with bags of charm and fun to offer. The multiplayer and track editor features provide the icing on the top of a very sweet cake. At just 1200 MS Points, this game offers more value than some full £40 retail titles do – get it now.