Trials Evolution is fantastic example of classic gaming meeting new. At first glance, you’ll be reminded of ExciteBike. But where that renowned mainstay of gaming left off, RedLynx picks up. Trials differs substantially from ExciteBike and similar titles in that you cannot steer to the left or to the right. The only direction you can go is straight ahead – pedal-to-the-metal, baby! Straight forward is the key to victory. It sounds simple, but if you’re thinking it shouldn’t be too hard to master, you’ve never been more wrong in your life. The sequel to the 2009 Xbox Live Arcade hit makes a delectable splash once more in the world of racing, and only for 1200 Microsoft Points.
It may seem like an exceptionally simple racer, but everything depends on specific layers of gravity and developer RedLynx’s precise use of physics within the game. Know that every miniscule movement of your biker will affect the outcome of each trial and thus affect your time at the end as well. The very same rules that apply to real life motorbikes will apply here. If you’re on an uphill ramp you’ll need to make sure you lean forward and apply steady pressure on the gas rather than gunning it or else you won’t make it to the end of a trial, much less an admirable score. It’s the small nuances like this that will make you both enamored with Trials Evolution and ready to tear your hair out because you just can’t figure out the perfect marriage of speed, braking, and which way to lean. That’s the beauty of it.
Once you think you may have begun to master simple slopes ending with a jump through a burning hoop, the game ups the ante with some gnarly multiple jumps and terrain that will require precise maneuvers in the air. You may want to simply power ahead over ramps and throw caution to the wind, but if you do this you’ll find yourself getting frustrated very quickly, as this is very much a game meant to be played with steady and capable hands. The mixture of so-hard-it-hurts gameplay as well as the satisfaction that stems from landing a near-impossible jump with an admirable time as you climb the leaderboards is second to none, and you might find yourself doing that little victory dance you do right in your chair.
When and if you complete the newly varied main campaign challenges (much more than before – there’s even a level inspired by Limbo), the fun doesn’t stop there. Challenging your friends is a huge portion of what makes things so fun. As you race you’ll be met with ghostly apparitions of friends’ times past, acting a both a catalyst for better performances and friendly competition between friends. Or unfriendly. Whichever you choose.
Though much of the fun can be found within simply trying to complete an event, you’ll find plenty to enjoy when you happen to fail too, and you will fail a lot. Your rider will regularly be subjected to flames, glass, low beams, and contortion positions as his body is tossed to and fro in the play area. Ragdoll physics make this a hilarious experience that you won’t get tired of seeing, at least, if you’re not trying too hard to complete the campaign.
When you’ve had enough fun with the campaign and various challenges, you can put your creative skills to the test with quite the useful level editor with which you can shape terrain, create your own obstacles, jumps, and even go so far as to change lighting and shadow effects within the areas you’ve created. Once you’ve done this, you can submit your creation for all your friends to enjoy, LittleBigPlanet-style.
As far as looks go, Trials Evolution is slick and clean. As the physics speak for themselves, so do the impressive graphics. Forgetting the humorous spills your rider will take throughout the course of game, you can’t deny the fact that the now open-world environments (an interesting alternative to the dingy warehouses of the original) in were given true TLC by RedLynx in that there is so much attention to detail. The soundtrack may not appeal to all folks, though – something to keep in mind when purchasing.
If you’re looking for an Xbox Live Arcade game that doesn’t rely on the same mechanics that the rest do, then Trials Evolution should satisfy your thirst for the unique. Don’t approach this game looking for easy achievements or simple gameplay, however, because you’ll be turned off in a heartbeat. If you’re dow for some addictive, challenging, and wholly entertaining action, then Trials Evolution is currently one of the best bets on the downloadable front – especially if you never splurged on its first iteration.