Trials Evolution


Written by Chris Price
22 Sunday 22nd April 2012

Trials in the union of man and motorbike, in a timed negotiation of the stunt track from Hades. Your goal is completion of each course, in the quickest time, with penalties awarded for foul-ups. Your tools are nothing more than accelerate, brake and the ability to shift your weight about the bike. From its humble beginnings as a PC-based Flash title, Trials HD popped up on Xbox Live mid-August 2009 after its predecessor did time on PC consoles. Its precise balance of speed and control adhered to console logic perfectly, and proved a legit must-have download, that buoyed its Xbox Live presence above the parapet of the ‘lesser’ independent game.

It’s 2.5D graphics still look as clever and move as smartly as you’d like. Bright new outdoor locations and challenges, with a dynamic swooping camera offers a more cinematic experience as you bike ‘into’ backgrounds. Trials trademark humour is abundant, with wry nods to other franchises (check out the Limbo level, or the explosive beach runs that wouldn’t look out of place in Band of Brothers) or pain-inducing mini games involving ski runs, UFOs and human flight. Uphill climbs are slightly more assured. Customisable bikes and clothing for your riders hint at potential themed DLC further down the line. Timings have been trimmed, with a gold medal genuinely pretty tough to acquire.

Since acquiring developers RedLynx, Ubisoft seem to have done little more to the game than add their logo to the front page. It’s core is largely the same aside from a few tweaks – but Evolution is Trials getting social. Pulling in your Xbox Live friends list, each competing friend appears on a leaderboard. Runs now feature a ghosting route of friends run times. Now, not only does the game test your patience with its meticulousness, Trials Evolution takes great pride in reminding you that your not as good as you think you are.

But competition in the previous Trails was very much a personal endeavour - shaving those precious seconds off each run - learning each rivulet of a course, the flats, the gullets, jumps and traps, squeezing every inch from your bike. This concept is still central to the game; it just got a little more competitive.

The other major addition is the Track Creator. Available in both ‘Lite’ and ‘Pro’ flavours, the former providing a relatively simple drag, drop and rotate tools to insert images across various regions from the Trials world. Pro mode on the other hand allows you amending the entire structure of the game, LittleBigPlanet 2 style, utilising Trials’ physics engine to create entire new worlds. Simple enough to absorb in an hour or two of fiddling, but with enough gravity to provide a mod-friendly tool to design gravity games for months to come.

Trials Evolution is much breezier, brighter game than the original. It’s a more accessibly crafted experience with a gentle training curve that never feels patronising. It’s original formula has been tuned to perfection. But the real power of Trials Evolution is in its longevity. It's a game where learning the ropes is simple and intuitive – but staying top of the tree requires absolute perfection. It’s a lastability reinforced by its ruthlessly simple ‘pick-up and play’ game structure that effortlessly underwrites so many interpretations of gaming - the casual blast, the team derby, the drunken party, the solo high scorer. Trials Evolution is a truly omnipotent game – simple and effortless yet deep where it needs to be. For its digital download price point of ~£10 (1200 Microsoft Points) it’s a steal because ultimately, it’s just sheer unadulterated achievement – making every perilous replay a potential shot at glory. Rarely do games feel so worthwhile; if there’s any justice in the world, Trials Evolution should be everywhere.


 Trials Evolution is available now from Xbox Live costing 1200 Microsoft Points.

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