For a reason I can only attribute to timing, I did not have the opportunity to play Trials HD (THD) before I stepped into the world of Trials Evolution (TE). That may or may not be a bad thing because I hear that THD was hard and bland, much like a bad meatloaf. Really Hard, like a Really Bad Meatloaf. I also understand that it was somewhat lacking in variation in terms of the environments, but it was still an amazing game and is the number one selling XBLA game of all time. If those things are indeed true, TE brings enough beautiful and unique environments to cover your boredom, and it also delivers on the difficulty, though I haven’t encountered any tracks I couldn’t pass. Yet.
Trials, if you boil it down and sprinkle it with smoked paprika, is a hardcore, over the top, physics based take on the NES classic Excitebike. You are traversing numerous courses and avoiding obstacles while racing the clock and trying not to fall or crash to obtain a gold medal. The easiest courses are relatively straightforward. They focus on executing jumps and ramps at the proper speed while maintaining a proper angle at landing. As the tracks increase in difficulty, advanced techniques like bunny hops and careful use of throttle, balance, extreme precision and the stance of your rider become critical not only to getting the elusive gold medal, but to even completing the tracks.
I have not yet dug deeply into the track editor (Lite or Advanced) or the multiplayer (though I played some local multiplayer at PAX East), but the depth of the track editor is astounding. Unlike the Original THD, the tracks are also shareable to all users and easily downloaded and played in game with a just a few bits of button pressing and menu navigation. I was able to quickly check out some user created tracks and quickly rate them and move onto others without breaking stride. The experience was extremely pleasant and seamless.
Do not fear the difficulty, revel in it. There are tracks when you will have 150 faults. Don’t worry. It is called Trials after all. Fortunately resetting or restarting from the beginning of a track or the last checkpoint is almost instant so you can retry difficult track sections easily without hassle. This is yet another easy to pick up, hard to put down bargain on XBLA and is receiving accolades everywhere. Just look!!!!
Brad Shoemaker at Giant Bomb does backflips (5/5): “This game also goes way, way over the top with the visuals in a way that Trials HD could only dream of. That game took place entirely in a pretty bland industrial warehouse sort of environment. By contrast, Evolution seems to have lost its damn mind.”
Jordan Devore at Destructoid gets a little squirrelly (9.0/10): “Trials Evolution feels fresh and makes its predecessor look dated while simultaneously keeping the core gameplay the same. This type of skill-heavy experience will infuriate some people who struggle to pick up on its subtleties, but the end result of clearing a particularly challenging track is remarkably satisfying.”
Ben Gilbert of joystiq balances precariously (5/5): “Between the crushing difficulty of certain levels, and the urge to perfect others, Evolution has its grip on me. That grip was only galvanized when I started in on multiplayer.”
- Matt Swenk - @mattswenk