Published on April 22nd, 2012 | by CoreySA0
MGP Trials Evolution Review
Trials Evolution Review
Trials Evolution was the hardest game I’ve ever had to review. It’s not because the sequel to the hugely successful Trials HD is a horrible title, or has any major flaw, it is hard to review because the game is just that good. I could use this review space to say “buy this game now” and it really would be all that is necessary. Since RedLynx provided me with a review copy, I don’t think it would be a very professional approach to take. This was also a difficult review to make on a personal level. I have never given any game a ‘perfect score’ on any site. I don’t take that score lightly, but as time progressed and I dove deeper into the Trials Evolution world, I struggled for reasons NOT to give the game a perfect 10. This is an utterly brilliant XBLA title and one no Xbox owner should be without.
In 2009, RedLynx, a Helsinki, Finland based studio with a long track record in making games for multiple platforms, released Trials HD for the Xbox Live Arcade platform. Trials HD was built to be a difficult to master yet easy to learn physics-based game, and the response to its release couldn’t have been bigger. It went to sell over 2 million copies worldwide and is still to this day one of the top played XBLA titles each and every week. After a 3 year wait, Trials Evolution is here and the name couldn’t be any more fitting – it is a complete evolution and the sequel improves on the original in almost every respect.
If there was any glaring flaw with the original Trials XBLA release, it was that its difficulty spiked way too quickly and became difficult to deal with. Although one of the best features of the Trials series is its ability to challenge the user and depends on the player’s skill to master its courses, the gap between easy and hard was a very, very messy process. Trials Evolution however, has managed to fix that problem and alleviate the frustrations that quickly grow through progression. That’s not to say the game isn’t difficult, but the climb seems less hectic and messy. I love how RedLynx has added licenses to the title, which is basically your way of progressing to each difficulty level. There are 4 of them to gather up, but each teaches you valuable lessons in bike control and player movement. What is also great is that none of these licenses take you an exponential amount of time to gain so you’re able to progress at a good pace at the very same time. This is also how you unlock newer bikes.
The most important part of Trials, and learning its nuances, is the player’s control on the sticks and repetitively learning each and every track. Every single track must be approached differently – some may need you to rely on speed, while some need require a more finesse approach. I find that the amount of depth and strategy that are involved, especially in some of the harder tracks, is not only brilliant but makes the game incredibly addictive and approachable. In the same vein as Super Meat Boy or N+, Trials has you continuously saying “just one more try” in search of the perfect run or finishing a level. If there was ever a game that was considered a gaming “drug” – this is it.
Where Trials Evolution really shines is with its brilliantly implemented leaderboards and online functionality. If the game wasn’t addictive enough, RedLynx uses your friends to motivate you into trying these tracks over and over again. As you race through a level, you’ll see your friends who are represented by dots on the screen. You can see where they screwed up, how fast they progressed and it really does a great job of making you chase better times. After each race, you can also see each of your friends’ times and sometimes that alone will force you into wanting to replay a level.
Multiplayer was also added to Trials Evolution and it is an amazing amount of fun. What is great about the multiplayer is the fact that a lot of the races have you and up to 3 others on the screen at once and the strategy you use in single player is completely turned on its head. Seeing others race not only rails up the intensity, but by nature, makes you want to speed through as fast as possible. Where multiplayer balances itself out though is in how each race is scored. Each race is scored out of 10 with the winner receiving 10 points. But for every fault one has during the run, a point is taken off. The brilliance is in the fact that being behind doesn’t mean a win is impossible. If you’re smart and get through with no faults then you can still win, even if finishing behind others if they played a less then perfect run. So there are multiple strategies and different ones can work for different people. The experience also remained lag-free and responsive after a few bad hours on release day due to server overload. I absolutely love the multiplayer they’ve created and will continue to play long after this review.
Another incredible feature added to Trials Evolution was the track editor and the ability to download new tracks. The editor is the very same one the developers use to create the courses and tracks. What is astonishing is that the editor goes far beyond being a simple track designer. I’d consider it a GAME designer. Not only can you build tracks, but you can also create first-person shooters, Foosball tables, ping pong games, skill games…the variety is endless. I can’t wait to see what people can come up with using this deep creative tool. What ties into this feature, is the fact that anything that can be created can also be shared. After only a few days, there are thousands of tracks/games available to download and the process is quick and simple. RedLynx has added categories such as ‘Most Downloaded’, ‘Top Rated’ and it makes finding the best options a friendly process. Adding this feature will add a tremendous and an unlimited amount of replayability to the title and is basically an endless stream of free DLC.
If there is any flaw to Trials Evolution, it is in the amount of cursing it’ll add to your vocabulary. I’m at the point where I can’t even play this game around my daughter due to how intense I can get in my sessions. This may sound like a problem, but I love it. What’s so fantastic is the fact that although the game can frustrate the player, it does a great job of not letting you breathe to feel that frustration. When you screw up and need to restart, the restarts happen so fast and smooth that you don’t really have time to react. Before my brain can think to throw the controller in sheer anger, the level has restarted and I’m racing again. It’s an utterly genius way of handling the more difficult races and keeps the player playing. Another reason the frustration levels don’t get too out of control, is how each run doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ to complete. In other trial and error titles like the aforementioned Super Meat Boy, I struggle with the fact that some runs demand that the player be perfect in every sense of the word. That’s an angering frustration. What makes Trials so much different is in the fact that there is room for mistakes. On one race, I was trying to keep my front wheel up in the air over a jump and when I landed, I gave it too much gas. When I landed, instead of crashing, I quickly turned my mistake into a back flip over the next bump and continued my faultless run. There is room for creativity and adapting to what happens – a feature many trial and error games lack. It is what makes Trials Evolution so addictive.
When I review games, especially sequels and XBLA titles, I rate them based on how much they’ve improved over the original and how much value you get for the price paid. In both cases, Trials Evolution has trumped both its original, and in value compared to every other XBLA game on the market. For $15, there is an endless amount of content here with more rolling in by the minute with created pieces by users. I really can’t find anything to nag about, and trust me, I tried. Unless I can fault the developer for broken controllers or the bad words my daughter might learn, then this title, compared to the market it competes with, is unbelievable in design.
Marking a game with a perfect score is always hard as a reviewer, but I give the score with pride. RedLynx has designed one of the most addictive and fun titles I’ve ever played and one that absolutely no Xbox 360 owner should live without. When we look back on 2012, not only will Trials Evolution stand as one of the best XBLA games of all-time, but it very well could be considered for game of the year. It’s that good.
A copy of Trials Evolution was provided by RedLynx for purposes of this review.