Trials Evolution Review (XBLA)

On the surface Trials Evolution may seem like a “bro game.”  It’s all about dirt bikes, it opens with some rap-rock music and you can trick out your rider with all kinds of “bro gear.”  While there is nothing wrong with “bro games” I typically stay away from them as I gravitate towards a different type of game.  Thankfully, Trials Evolution is not a “bro game.”  The outward appearance of dirt bikes and rap-rock music quickly fads away once you discover you are playing a twitch-based platformer. 

What You Need To Know
Evolution is the sequel to the wildly popular, 2009 XBLA release, Trials HD.  Just as Trials HD before it, Evolution tasks you with navigating a dirt bike over several courses composed of ramps, jumps and random obstacles.  Your inputs are limited; gas, brake and rider lean.  Using different combinations of the three, you traverse your rider through places he should never be in the first place.  Each track has time limits which are tracked against online leaderboards and everyone on your friends list.  Evolution also sports several modes that throw a unique spin at the terrain conversing; human flight, moon lander, no brakes, etc.  New for Evolution is a multiplayer mode where you can race in real-time against your friends on the single player tracks or race four to a track Excitebike style.  Also new – and perhaps most impressive – is the in depth track editor which allows you to construct and share your tracks with the world. 

Simple To Play, Hard To Master
Video games are pretty complex these days.  If you explain how to play Madden to somebody their head could explode.  Evolution has a very limited number of inputs you need to worry about.  This makes the barrier to entry quite low.  However, Trials Evolution is not – NOT – a simple game.  The level of accuracy needed while playing is astounding.  It’s the kind of thing where you want to smash your controller but you don’t want to stop playing long enough to do so.  Most of the controller isn’t used to play Trials so you may be able to talk someone into playing it.  Of course, that same person may want to strangle you later.  You have been warned. 

Progression Walls
This is something that annoys me about games in general.  As you progress through the different tiers of tacks, your advancement will be halted until you earn enough medals to unlock the next set of levels.  I can understand how developers may not want players to burn through their content so quickly, but I found it more of an obstruction to my enjoyment of game.  It was tedious to replay levels I had already seen just to earn enough medals to open the next tier.  I don’t have a lot of time to play games lately and it would be nice to jump to whatever track I want from the start.  This system, while it hinders your progression, does teach you to control your rider better and encourages you to achieve better times; which works well with the game’s social emphasis. 

More To Look At
Trials HD was based exclusively in a warehouse setting.  Evolution steps up the atmosphere by placing tracks in forests, on countryside terrain, on a dock and even in the sky.  You can even go back to the oh-so familiar warehouse if you desire.  Not only that, but the static camera view from HD has been upgraded as well.  The camera will now zoom back and forth as the track can make sudden turns and shift the focus of your perspective.  Sometimes you won’t know what you are about to land on.  That can be both terrifying and exhilarating. 

You Can Even Make Jeopardy
RedLynx touted you can make anything with the track editor they built into Trials Evolution.  Tony wanted to build Jeopardy.  Guess what, folks?  I did it.  With the tools provided, I am pretty sure you could make just about anything you can dream up.  I’m talking near LittleBigPlanet heights of creation.  RedLynx figured this may scare some people off, so they even divided the track editor into a simple and a pro version.  Either version greets you with what looks like a debug screen. It can be overwhelming at first but if you spend some time experimenting, you can find your way around the editor.  If you just want to play what others create, there are several ways to search for tracks made by the community.  Every track I downloaded took less than two seconds to make the jump from the web to my hard drive.  You could only play user created tracks and still get your money’s worth with this game. 

Trials Evolution is a fantastic game.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a better dollar per hour ratio with any other game.  It has a simple yet addicting quality to its gameplay that becomes harder to walk away from with the more you want to stop playing; you know, before you smash something expensive.  While I had some hiccups with the online multiplayer, the single player and track editor alone are enough to make this a must have for your XBLA collection. 

Final score –
Total play time – 12 hours
Review copy provided by RedLynx

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