May 2, 2012

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Trials Evolution Review

Trials Evolution Review

As I grip the controller I realize that my hands are getting clammy, sweat is running down my brow. Carefully I tilt the left stick as I apply the slightest pressure to the throttle, guiding my bike up this beast of a hill. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve attempted this run, so I do my best to be wary of each element and hazard. Nearing my goal with precious seconds left to earn a gold medal, I pull on the throttle as I see my bike whiz towards the line. With the finish mere yards away, the speed of my bike launches me slightly too high, causing my rider to crash into the roof and tumble forward. With widened eyes I scream out in frustration at another perfect run ruined by a slight miscalculation. After gathering myself, I restart the level of one of the most infuriating games I’ve ever played, yet simultaneously one of the best that the Xbox LIVE Arcade has to offer.

RedLynx’s motorcycle sequel takes everything that made Trials HD successful and improves on every aspect. Gone are the drab backgrounds and overused flaming barrels, replaced with creative and often bright landscapes. With Trials Evolution it’s easy to see that RedLynx went all out, and unlike the original, these levels aren’t just difficult, but extremely satisfying and downright fun. Oftentimes Trials HD felt hard just for the sake of designing a brutal level, but with Trials Evolution, the designers seemed to put more effort into making both memorable levels and focusing on the fun factor. Though the controls and graphics may not be distinguishable between the two, Trials Evolution is much more creative and enjoyable.

The controls remain simple, with players using the left stick for leaning the rider, left trigger for braking, and right trigger as their throttle. Though simple, the controls work perfectly and not once did I feel as if it was the game’s fault that I failed a mission. Unlike the controls, each level is complex with dozens of hazards, awkward jumps, insane ascents and many seemingly impossible maneuvers to pull off. Players will likely find themselves scratching their heads in confusion as to how some hazards can be passed, but after some practice (and possibly a rage quit or two) each level can be completed. For those that can’t figure out how to pass a stage, Redlynx has not only brought back leaderboard replays but has given players the chance to actually race against the ghost runs. Gameplay-wise, Trials remains top-notch and with the inclusion of a track creator and likely future DLC, I can easily see myself playing this game for a long time.

There are a bevy of single-player offerings including a decently sized campaign mode and nearly a dozen mini games to enjoy. The campaign is broken up into varying difficulties and though it’s nothing unique, it’s what is typical and provides hours of entertainment. There isn’t a narrative or really any sort of dialogue or story, but Trials Evolution doesn’t need one and the inclusion of one would have likely felt tacked-on or forced. The mini games were very enjoyable in the first game, but it seems as if the developers went crazy this time with some of the games they created. One mini game has players guiding a spaceship and landing on different platforms while another is a pretty competent Splosion Man knock-off. RedLynx has provided other great mini games including an FPS level, a Marble Madness style game and a working foosball table showing just how creative players can be with their editors. Throw in the enjoyable (though mildly simple) multiplayer modes and the already growing list of online levels and game-types the community has created, and you’re provided with a ton of content that will continue to grow daily.

As easy as it is to gush about one of the best downloadable games this year, Trials Evolution really isn’t for everyone. Though the game does a far better job of easing new players in, the difficulty is still present and easily frustrated gamers might be better off downloading the simpler Joe Danger. The soundtrack itself is kind of lackluster too, and some of the levels are a little too dark, making it easy for players to miss a hazard. Lastly, the track editor isn’t very user-friendly, and some people have been complaining about the controls. Personally, the issues may stem from the fact that games like Little Big Planet created such a simple level editor and Trials Evolution doesn’t really compare, but the fact of the matter is that the level editor isn’t the most intuitive.

Trials Evolution is by far one of the most enjoyable and complete downloadable titles I’ve played in months. The controls are perfect, the levels are creative, the mini games are awesome and the community integration is some of the best you’ll find on XBLA. Though the difficulty may turn off some, Trials Evolution really is a game that everyone should experience and is a steal at $15. RedLynx has created a great download and my favorite arcade game of 2012.

Trials Evolution
Platform: 360 (XBLA)
Genre: Platformer, Racing
Release Date: 04/18/12
Developer: RedLynx Inc.
Publisher: Xbox Live Arcade
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
MSRP: 1200 MSP ($15)