Review: Trials Evolution (XBLA)

Review: Trials Evolution (XBLA)

I started playing Trials Evolution Tuesday afternoon, and I knew that I was going to have problems. Immediately, I became intently focused on the track leaderboards. I saw names…I saw targets. Success! I topped the leaderboard for Oil Crisis and sent a celebratory tweet to those hapless fools that had been humbled and shamed by my incredible skill and deft control. Twenty minutes later, my time was thoroughly squashed by a cruel knave. Thirty minutes of replaying Oil Crisis over and over, tweaking and adjusting my playthrough each time, I shaved a full second and a half from my total level completion…bringing me to one tenth of a second short of avenging my ignominious defeat. The next day at work, I kept replaying Oil Crisis in my head, trying to mentally work out how to get past the final set of hills and catch up.

Trials Evolution’s mechanics feel, to me, like a slight improvement to the already great mechanics in Trials HD. If you’ve played Trials HD, Trials Evolution will feel familiar and comfortable. The single player campaign consists of multiple stages containing multiple tracks, progressing in difficulty as you move through them. I mentioned track leaderboards…depending on how many times you have to restart at a checkpoint and the speed at which you complete the level, you’ll be awarded a bronze, silver, or gold medal and placed on the track leaderboard. You may have completed the run faster than a friend, but if they did it with fewer checkpoint restarts, they’re going to be ahead of you, so you’ll find yourself replaying tracks in an attempt to memorize timing and tactics for faster, more accurate runs.

My favorite thing about this game, honestly, are the level designs. For the most part. There is one track, called Gigatrack, that took me almost 20 minutes to complete a single playthrough of, with 59 checkpoint restarts. The checkpoints in this level were very far apart (moreso than in most levels), and the gaps between them had crash traps that would set you back by a good chunk. FUCK Gigatrack. Moving on, you have levels built in various ways taking advantage of the power of the game’s level designer. Mind Bender, in particular, is my absolute favorite. In Mind Bender, the direction of gravity and the level rotation change, forcing you to keep sharp control of your bike rotation and orientation.

As much fun as the single player campaign is, and believe me, it is, the multiplayer additions and the track creation make this a truly fantastic game. Trials Evolution allows you to do head-to-head racing with up to four local players or with three additional friends online. Aside from head-to-head racing, Trials Evolution’s online multiplayer includes a point based ghost mode racing. After multiple heats against friend ghosts, total points are added up and a winner is decided. The track editor lets you not only make tracks for bikes, it lets you make almost anything. You can download a Foosball table, a jetpack level, a Trials version of Angry Birds, and more. On top of that, players can create their own maps and publish them for other players to download and play alone or with friends. The creative aspect of Trials Evolution is absolutely mind boggling, and for those who put the time into it, presents an incredible amount of content and play.

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There are a few areas of concern with Trials Evolution. For people who don’t like playing the same track multiple times in order to learn the unique characteristics of the track for the extravagant reward of shaving .015 seconds off of your total run, you’re going to get a lower replay value, and potentially less enjoyment from the game. The fun of Trials Evolution’s single player campaign, to be honest, is replaying levels to improve your performance and take your rightful place at the top of your friends leaderboard. When playing the single player game as intended, which I feel is a constant leaderboard battle through developing perfect run tactics for each level, you can run intocontroller throwing frustration; when the slightest mistake can ruin your perfect run attempt, you find yourself relying on both skill and a bit of luck. Also, the fucking Gigatrack level. Fuck that level. Honestly, though, the only thing that’s bumping the score down to a 95 is the Gigatrack level, because I reiterate, fuck that level. The issues with frustration and overly sensitive controls are both matters of personal opinion. Trials has sensitive controls; maybe they’re too sensitive for you, but they’re designed that way for the game. Maybe you’ll get incredibly frustrated with certain levels…no, you WILL get frustrated with certain levels…but some people find that to be stimulating and challenging, as intended.

In the end, Arcade NEXT is off to an incredibly strong start with Trials Evolution. As a sequel to Trials HD, it improves in almost every way. Local and online multiplayer coupled with track creation and player track downloads take the classic sensitive physics of Trials and lets you play with it even more. As a standalone title, for those who haven’t played Trials HD, it’s an experience that you won’t forget anytime soon. 1200MSP is the right price for this game, and it’s definitely worthwhile. If you’re not sure that you’ll enjoy the kind of game that thrives on repeating levels to improve times, try the…trial…first, but personally I think Trials Evolution knocked it out of the park.

Review

ProsCons
Local and online multiplayer
Incredibly powerful level editor
Can submit/download player created tracks
Strong single player campaign
Incredibly satisfying crash physics
Lots of replayability and creative play
Two words: Mind Bender
Potentially overly sensitive controls
High potential for frustration and controller throwing
That fucking Gigatrack level
Rating
95 out of 100

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