Trials HD was a hard game, fun and exciting, but hard none the less with it offering a thrilling and original take on the dirt bike arcade experience, allowing us to pull of mad jumps and stunts without any chances of breaking a bone. The original release was a must have purchase for XBLA back in 2009, bringing back fond childhood memories of classic TV show Kickstart, so how does Trials Evolution fare?
First thing you will notice is that an awful lot of work has been made towards presentation, shaming many of the more expensive disc based games with an easy to navigate menu system and granting instant access to the games many modes. I mentioned difficulty so early on as it was and still is a very challenging game, but this time it feels a lot more forgiving, with plenty of easier challenges set up as licences to whet your appetite, steadily teaching you how to control your rider and the bike; which is more or less as before, with the LS making your rider lean back and forth and triggers for acceleration and braking; combining the two being key to getting those top times and learning that gunning the throttle will often end up with your neck in a brace, with precision control, slowly but surely inching up a huge incline or judging a jump and landing just right to maximise speed.
Where Trials HD was based only in a few environments, this time around we are able to get to the great outdoors with some very interesting tracks available, with a Normandy style beach head to drive through, bombs and anti-vehicle fences in the way, huge runs over water with many perilous drops, building yards using cranes to get around and plenty of death defying loop the loops to master. What has not changed though is the devilish track creations, with speed perfect approaches and perfect landing angles the key to shaving off those vital milliseconds to earn a gold medal and bragging rights over your mates.
The single player experience is very much a bigger and more confident experience than the last in terms of style and navigation, setting you against a variety of tracks that need to be unlocked via earning licences and medals. With online seamlessly implemented, your friends race times appear on all of the tracks they have completed and rather than a ghost race, any of your friends that have completed the track will appear as a dot on the screen, racing ahead of you and setting the pace for you to beat.
Starting you off with a humble little 125cc and a D license you then make your way around a huge variety of tracks, the aim is to earn medals and cash that will unlock more tracks and allow you to purchase new clothing accessories for your nameless rider. Trials Evolution has the feel of one of those classic games from previous generations, not relying on DLC options to expand the game but offering a seemingly never-ending supply of tracks, with more unlocking with every race you complete. As you progress though the challenges and licences you are constantly unlocking more content, with tournaments popping up and also plenty of mini games via the Skill Game Circus to try some more original ideas which include seeing how far you can get on a tank of petrol, ditching the bike for a set of ski’s, an Icarus style flying event to even a Super Monkey Ball clone.
The customisation also travels over to the multiplayer modes, allowing you to show off to your competitors how much cash you have accrued. Most bikes are available from the off here to keep a balanced online or local multiplayer game (most players opting for the 450cc) and is just as fun as single player but with the added pressure of other people being able to see just how bad you are. Three game modes are playable online, but with only one initially available. First off you have the Supercross mode, a mini tournament consisting of four races across two tracks; the idea is to get to the end as fast as possible with each position earning points; bail-outs are allowed but with each time you reset they are used against you will be penalised on your end score. The viewpoint is the same as single player so it does have its negative points, especially if you are racing at the top of the screen with a huge disadvantage as the other three racers are covering you if it’s a close race. What could of been a serious negative point is rectified by the way the tournament is set out as the second race on the track will place you in a better position; then over the following two races each of the racers will have one go on the bad viewpoints, giving each racer an equal chance. Once you have levelled up enough you are then able to start selecting the other game modes, Trials and Hardcore Trials, both offering a one on one ghost mode where you are pitched against a ghostly version of your competitor.
With a solid single and multiplayer experience on offer, Trials Evolution is already a must have title but RedLynx have gone and spoilt us with the inclusion of a track editor. This is not just a basic editor that lets you put in a few jumps and loops but exactly the same engine used by the creators of this game. Via Track Central you are able to peruse a huge selection of tracks already posted by fans or the creative team, allowing you to view, rate and race any of the tracks uploaded by the community. There are two editing modes available, the Lite Editor takes you through the simple track editing tricks, with only a short read through and then you are making some mad tracks in a few minutes. The land you are able to use as a canvas is huge, with plenty of already prepopulated areas that offer themes for your ideas and letting you add touches like weather effects and plenty of obstacles all with a few clicks of the D-Pad. The Pro Editor really adds a lot more depth to your creations, allowing you to bend the basics and create all manner of games but altering the physics of pretty much every item. If you are not sure what to create just a quick play of some of the creations already will inspire many, with 2D shooters and First Person Shooters already getting high ratings.
It is hard to believe this is just worth 1200MS points, a game so packed full of modes, a challenging difficulty setting that will punish all but the most dedicated of players, a limitless track creator, four player online mode and loads more to unlock, I really wish Microsoft released a handheld console so I can play this all of the time.
Rating: OutstandingReview Policy(version tested: XBLA)