Trials Evolution – Review

Title   Trials Evolution
Developer  Red Lynx
Publisher  Ubisoft
Platform  Xbox 360
Genre  Platform, Racing
Release Date  April 18, 2012
Official Site

Before I get into this properly, I’m going to go out on a limb; I wouldn’t normally make a statement of this type, but I’m going to stand by it completely – if you enjoyed Trials HD, you’ll likely love Trials Evolution! A bold statement, to be sure, but one that formed in my mind almost as soon as I set off on the first track of the game.

RedLynx have done a sterling job in creating the follow-up to one of my favourite games of the last few years, Trials HD, and they’ve done it in such a way that you know for sure it is a follow up, yet it retains and enhances all of the fun and skills that made HD such a joy to play.

They’ve also gone one better this time around and added something that Trials HD lacked, something that just held it back from being nigh on perfect – RedLynx have introduced four-player multiplayer to the mix and, in doing so, have created a party-play masterpiece, but more of that later.

Right from the start, Trials Evolution recaptures the feelings and frustrations that were a massive part of the appeal of Trials HD. That initial element of competition with yourself to get a better time and, hopefully, a better medal, but also to put yourself ahead of your friends in the leaderboards and be able to look down upon them for a short while until they fight back and beat your best time by a single one hundredth of a second and go all booya in your face.

At this juncture I suppose I should allow a moment to explain for all of those who may not yet have played a Trials game… I should but I won’t! You’re all dead to me now and I won’t waste my words. Just look at the screenies and videos dotted around this review and you’ll soon see what it’s all about. Rocket science it ain’t!

One thing that clearly lifted this game above and beyond its predecessor for me has been the graphics. Trials HD was good, and looked great in its dingy warehouse setting, but Trials Evolution looks amazing and has taken itself out of the warehouse and into the world with tracks created from railroads, mountains, bridges, mines, sports tracks and arenas, as well as an offshore rig and a roller coaster. The scenery is stunning in places and very much captures that jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching feeling you’d expect when you soar off an obstacle and the ground drops away from you… then drops away some more, and more until you’re almost free-falling through to the next section. Another thing that separates this game from the last is that the tracks now curve in and out of the scenery, giving the game a much more elemental feel within the environment. It really does work well though, and one of the early tracks seemed to go on forever.

The tracks themselves start off seemingly simple, and it’s relatively easy to get a gold medal in the early stages, although even then it takes a couple of attempts to get through without crashing or screwing up within the time allowed for top honours. You start off with a basic motorcycle with very little power or, if the game recognises that you also own Trials HD, the option of the Micro 60cc Donkey, gifted to you by RedLynx but, as much as it is better than the standard bike, it is also incredibly ‘bouncy’ to drive with a very steep learning curve.

As you complete each track within a specific timeframe, you’re awarded medals and, much the same as it was in HD, a specific number of these are required in order to unlock the harder tracks. Interspersed between these levels are the license tests – D to A –  which not only give you a hint on what’s to come, but also tips on how to cope with the more awkward and difficult obstacles. These tests also have to be completed if you want to progress to the harder tracks, but they shouldn’t trouble anyone excessively as they really are just a quick tutorial, and any experienced Trials HD player should breeze through them. Completing tests also gives you access to the bigger and more powerful bikes and while there are only five in all, including the special Donkey gift, they could mean the difference between picking up a bronze medal, the elusive gold, or even rarer platinum.

Completing tracks also results in a monetary award. No, not actual money but in-game dollars that allow you to make visual changes to your rider and motorcycles such as clothing and helmets, gloves and boots, mudguards, wheels, mirrors and other accessories – all the little details that people like to change to give their game a more personal appeal. Access to these avatar options are opened as you progress, so the more you play, the more options you have, and the more they ultimately cost.

Along with the four license tests and 57 tracks – spanning Beginner, Easy, Medium, Hard and eventually into the ball-breaking, soul destroying “why the hell am I still doing this 268 faults later!?” Extreme tracks (thank the deity of your choice that there are only seven of these bad boys) – there are a further twelve Tournaments to plough through as well as ten additional ingenious games in the Skill Game Circus. All of these add to your medal count so they’re worth doing if you have hit a bit of a wall and are a few medals short of opening the next set of tracks. As much as they’re fun to play through, they are equally as frustrating as the main game can be and, as ever, all results are shared and compared to your friends list as an added incentive to keep on plugging away for as long as your soul can handle it.

So where does that leave us? Well, aside from becoming a quivering wreck because you couldn’t even get past the first obstacle on one of the extreme tracks, (I kid you not… I don’t know how many times I tried to get over the river on the two upright logs, but it was a good twenty-five minutes before I gave up!) this leads us into the final, and dare I say, most enjoyable part of Trials Evolution – the multiplayer.

The very nice people at RedLynx and Ubisoft invited us down to a basement bar in London on the eve of the game’s UK release to get a preview of the new addition to the franchise. I for one was excited by this, as I’d always felt that it was the one element that Trials HD was lacking, and so I was keen to see how they had brought it all together. I wasn’t disappointed either, as they have managed to capture the fun, skill and pacing of the main game by splitting it over four lanes so you can compete with your friends online over Xbox Live, or locally on the same machine using four controllers. I, and around thirty other industry folks, sat playing for over four hours that evening, some for even longer, and not a single person appeared to be disappointed.

The graphics in the multiplayer arena are a little toned-down compared to the main game, but the pace and thrill of racing against your friends more than makes up for this and there was much banter and friendly competition throughout. The tracks themselves are, by their very nature, considerably simpler than the challenge tracks of the main game and, as far as I could tell, they only utilised the beginner, easy and medium tracks. This didn’t really matter, however, as the racing was what it was all about rather than who could get up the tallest, steepest obstacle.

Within the races themselves, if you came a cropper and fell, the system picked you up and dropped you back in at the next check-point ready to roll again just as soon as the last rider still standing passed that point. It was a good way of keeping the race alive, but at times it made for some minor frustrations if you were the only one to stay on their bike right up until the last hurdle, yet you could still be pipped at the post by the failing competition. This was balanced out, however, as the scoring system meant that you would still likely come first in the race after points were deducted for each time you fell – fall a lot and the ten points you are awarded for finishing the race are quickly reduced with a penalty of minus one point for each fall. It’s possible to set up full-on tournaments of up to seven races, each with up to six heats per race – enough variation to make any evening fun and entertaining.

For those who like to tinker and create, RedLynx have kept in the Track Editor, and I know that our very own Editor-In-Chief is likely to get his hands dirty in this section if he ever finds the time. It’s a much more versatile system this time around too and, as well as not being limited to the old warehouse environment, there is a ‘complexity’ bar indicating how difficult your creation is so that you’ll never have to experience that soul-destroying moment where, after hours of fine-tuning your latest creation, you’re told that it can’t be saved as there are too many objects… resulting in your breaking it down piece-by-piece until such times as it can be saved.  With Trials Evolution, overly-complex tracks can still be saved, allowing you to come back and trim them down at a later date, but they can’t be played through until such times as they fall within the imposed limitations.

The track editor itself is more user-friendly than before, with a host of new and exciting objects to spruce up your track and make them as devilishly-difficult as possible for your friends.  The multicoloured tri-axis remains, making it easy to place and rotate objects to suit your particular idea, but the inclusion of terrain manipulation and the ability to have twists and turns in the tracks make for some incredible creations.  I haven’t delved extensively into this area yet as I was keen to progress as far as I could within the main game itself, although I’ll definitely be having a serious tinker with it at some point, and possibly even share my creations with the world. And it really is “the world” this time around because, rather than limit it to just those on your friends list, the level-sharing is now worldwide allowing you to pick up tracks from anyone who has taken the time to create them. RedLynx have even included a section where they recommend tracks which have obviously caught their eye – an innovative way of increasing the play cycle of the game and keeping it fresh, because you’ll effectively be able to pick up as many different tracks as there are minds to create them.  Free, unlimited, fan-made DLC.

As an extra little snippet of information, Trials Evolution was at the forefront of a new XBLA promotion, “XBLA Next”, and is the first of four live arcade games with 400 points attached rather than the usual 200. It comes with twenty separate achievements, the first five of which should be easy enough to pick up throughout the course of the game, with a few thrown in on the multiplayer side too – harsh if you’ve no friends, but you can easily join multiplayer races over live without too much trouble, as long as the system can find a spare slot for you.

Too busy to read all the words, or just fancy watching some fast-paced biker action (not the leather-clad lubed kind, sorry) with an awesome soundtrack? Check out our video review below AND you can win one of FIVE great prizes if you enter our Trials Evolution giveaway

  • Multiplayer is very enjoyable
  • Fast paced and a decent learning curve
  • Controls feel the same as its predecessor
  • Frustrating and time consuming because you just have to try and better your time
  • Frustrating and time consuming because you just have to try and better your time
  • Somewhat limited options within the personalisation

All in all, Trials Evolution really is the Homo Sapiens to Trials HD's Homo Erectus, and a fine follow up. The addition of multiplayer really does make this game complete and I, for one, can see myself playing it for a long time to come... and not just because it’ll take me until the next edition to master those extreme tracks!

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  1. Rook says:

    I read the words early this morning and did not notice the video review, it either wasn’t there at that time or I was too tired to notice. I’ve been enjoying this game and think some of the tracks are amazing looking and alot of fun. I’m not so much into position on the leaderboards, I’m happy just to get the gold medal however that may be coming to an end as I am soon to start the hard levels. It’s a great game and after playing alot of Trials HD there was no hesitation about buying Evolution.

  2. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Video wasn’t finished until 4.17am, then I left it uploading and added it this morning around 10am :) Love doing vids!

  3. Tania Tania says:

    Nice one Pete. :)

    And these video reviews really are awesome, some serious work and care gone into them methinks.

  4. Lorna Lorna says:

    This was always a must-buy for me, as I loved the first game. I think that Trials Evo beats Trials HD hands down, however… I love the variety of outdoor locations and deiversity of track elements, not to mention some of the themeing. The war time beach level was inspired. I am actually finding the game slightly easier than HD, although I’m sure that will change by the time I hit the hard and extreme tracks. If I ever make the extreme tracks that is!

  5. Pete Pete says:

    Lorna, a couple of the extreme tracks will have you weeping… or rage quitting… or probably both! Especially the two that I can’t even get over the first hurdle :D

    It’s a fab game though… even if it did give me a blistered finger trying to get gold on the Icarus circus game :)

  6. Edward Edward says:

    Awesome review, and whoever that guy is voicing the videos is top notch, I must say ;)

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