The most addictive, and possibly most frustrating, Xbox Live Arcade game has evolved.
When RedLynx decided to create a sequel to their much-loved, physics-based motorbike platform game, it must have made them a bit nervous. Trials HD was incredibly good and trying to improve upon that formula could quite easily result in a lesser game. The core mechanics were perfect and RedLynx knew this, so they decided to leave that aspect alone. Instead, RedLynx chose to improve on every other aspect of the game, from the setting to the modes. Oh, and they made it a bit easier as well, at least to start with…
This was quite an issue with Trials HD – the game ramped up the difficulty fairly quickly. The fact that the game was still a huge success only goes to prove that, whilst controller-throwing moments may have been regular, it was always fair and the player would always understand where they went wrong, even if they couldn’t do anything about it. There were no cheap tricks pulled on the player and any error was simply down to the players’ lack of skill at the game.
In the main game of Trials Evolution, RedLynx have followed the same formula. But this time the tracks are easier for longer. The player has to work through a selection of tracks, earning medals based on time and how many faults (restarts at the generous checkpoints) they have collected. Reaching a certain number of medals will unlock the next, more difficult batch of tracks. These collections of tracks are interspersed with license tests which try to teach the player both the basics and the more advanced techniques of the game.
“Easy to play, difficult to master” is the phrase that perfectly describes Trials Evolution. The controls are simplicity itself – accelerate or brake with the triggers, lean forward or back to adjust your riders’ weight with the left stick. That is pretty much all there is to it. But careful manipulation of these different controls will have your bike overcoming some seemingly impossible obstructions as they race towards the finish line, usually only to be blown up, impaled or otherwise killed in an entertaining manner. Such is the dark humour within the game.
The visuals themselves are where the player will first notice the improvements. Aside from the fact that the game looks absolutely gorgeous, the tracks have moved out of the dusty industrial area found in Trials HD. The levels now have a massive variety, racing through war-torn battlefields, train yards, mountainous regions and ancient ruins, to name but a few. There are even levels that pay homage to other videogames, with the Limbo level being a firm favorite.
The same great gameplay with better graphics and more varied tracks. Surely that would be enough to warrant a sequel to this hugely popular game? But RedLynx didn’t stop there…
One of the most compelling features of Trials HD was the ability to compare times with friends, and then brag extensively when you beat them. This feature has returned, but with bells on. Trials Evolution now features a full multiplayer mode, allowing the player to compete against friends and strangers, in real-time or with ghost data. If you thought that competing with friends was compelling before, you may be in for a shock.
The addition of multiplayer will certainly add many hours of gaming goodness to what is already a pretty packed game. But the inclusion of a “play, create, share”-style system will ensure that players have something to come back to for months on end.
The game includes a pair of track editors. The first is fairly simple and will allow the player to create their own Trials Evolution tracks with which to challenge their friends. Created tracks, which can be downloaded from a very competent interface with all manner of filters and such, have their own leaderboards to allow players to track the progress of other players who have downloaded their masterpiece.
The second editor is something else completely. Far more complex, and far more capable, with this editor players will be able to create not only mind-blowing tracks, but completely different games. Some of these will have already been seen in the single player game, as skill games, where the player will find their bike replaced with skies, or wooden planks strapped to the arms for flapping purposes. There is even a skill game which involves rolling a ball around a level without falling off.
But looking at the downloadable levels, players will find other examples of what this advanced editor can do, such as creating a first-person or a top-down scrolling shooter. These examples are only the tip of the iceberg and there is no doubt that the community will come up with other ways to make the most of the editor over time. There is even an Angry Birds clone!
Trials Evolution can, in my eyes, do no wrong. The smoother difficulty curve will keep the casual players around for longer, long enough for them to master the required skills for the more difficult levels and to discover the wealth of content available online. The more hardcore players will still find themselves struggling to get gold in each track, and can enjoy the competitive spirit of multiplayer. Trials Evolution is easily one of the best games of the year so far. Go and buy it, now!