There’s a fun thing you can try at home with your new copy of Trials Evolution. Play it for a few hours, fight through the frustration at how much you suck, then go back to the tracks at the start and gaze in wonder at how much your times improve. Then, hand the controller to someone new to Trials. Watch them play it, see their frustration at how much they suck – that used to be you.
All of this is to say that Trials is a difficult, frustrating game to get to grips with at first. It was the case in HD and it’s the case here too. You don’t notice yourself getting better, but every obstacle that takes 200 attempts to get over for the first time subconsciously implants some muscle memory into your brain. Next time you’ll pass it in 100. You’ll still be fairly certain you’re rubbish and, well, you will be, but then you’ll pass it in 50, 15, and soon you’ll be getting over it on the first attempt and wasting 200 faults on something else. It’s a game you get as much from as you’re willing to put in; there really is nothing more satisfying than completing a track with zero faults after a first attempt required 489, and that feeling is more than worth the effort.
The above could just as easily apply to Trials HD as it does to Evolution, and that’s because RedLynx haven’t tinkered with things that didn’t need to be tinkered with. Curved driving lines have been added and while these sometimes pose problems in that it’s slightly unpredictable where the bike is going to land, or whether a piece of scenery is part of the track, the issue disappears once the tracks are learned. Ultimately the only thing an experienced HD player will need to get used to is using slower bikes at the beginning of the game.
While Evolution can read save files from HD and offers rewards to those that have played it, including those few that managed to unlock the Marathon achievement, it doesn’t unlock any of the career. It doesn’t even offer the chance to go for Platinum medals until much later in the game, when the Extreme tracks are unlocked. This makes the first few hours feel like slow-going to those that have played HD but for everyone joining the series here, the structure is a godsend.
If you are joining the series here, by the way, Trials is essentially a 2D-platform game in which you control a man on a motorbike, using left and right to lean and RT/LT to accelerate/brake. Using just these controls, you must ride over a bunch of obstacles to reach the end of a course as quickly as possible. Well, with that covered…
The career is structured slightly differently now. While progress is still achieved by earning medals in Beginner, Easy, Medium, Hard and Extreme tracks, there are now license tests littered between them. To move on to the Hard tracks, for example, the player will first have to obtain their “A” license by passing a short course which teaches them how to bunny hop, and how to land on steep inclines – two skills essential for those harder tracks. They can be passed in under a minute for the experienced, but for beginners they’re invaluable.
All over, Evolution is more accommodating to beginners, and the difficulty is pitched slightly lower than it was previously. Extreme poses as much of a challenge as ever, but even an average player should make it through Hard without too much struggle. This would have been a criticism were it not for the new track sharing service the game includes.
Tracks are uploaded to Track Central where they’re sorted into Trials events, Supercross events and Skill Games. These can then be browsed either by the newest additions or by looking at the top rated tracks and downloaded almost instantly. Each track comes with its own leaderboard and while medals earned don’t count towards the career total, playing the tracks feels every bit like part of the experience. If the wealth and quality of content produced in Trials HD’s editor is reproduced here, then the top rated tracks could soon be a better go-to point than even the career mode itself, and will certainly provide any challenge that a player feels the game lacks.
The editor is more powerful than ever, so powerful in fact that it required 32 videos on YouTube just to cover the basics. It’s certainly daunting but even for those that just want to dabble, there’s a Lite editor which will allow tracks to be made in minutes.
There are two other additions to Trials Evolution, both centered on the social aspect. The game has always done leaderboards well and now includes a stat card that shows things such as restarts, how long you’ve played for, and how many times you’ve crashed. You can also compare your stat card to your friends’ and fight over little icons, such as who among you has been playing the most.
The other addition is multiplayer. It’s not as fleshed out as the career, offering the chance to play Trials events against ghosts in real-time, or far more exciting Supercross events. In these, four players race alongside each other over a number of heats to see who can make it to the finish first. Points are deducted for faults, and for taking too long once the winner has crossed the line, and the winner at the end is he or she with the most points. It’s a different way to play a familiar game, but ultimately it feels quite light and isn’t likely to replace leaderboard competition as the main thrust of the game.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There was much that was perfect in Trials HD, and things like bike physics have been left well alone for the sequel. Where improvements were needed they’ve been made, and the game is more welcoming to beginners as a result. Truly the greatest addition though is its track sharing service which promises a literally endless supply of new tracks – it’s everything you loved about Trials but now it lasts forever, and all they want is 1200 Microsoft Points?
Just don’t let anyone see your gameplay timer.
Origin of Pain DLC Review – 21st October 2012 by Keith Murray
You’ve not been back to Trials Evolution for a while have you? Probably since that time you noticed there was more grey hair than you had previously, perhaps a few extra lines on your face? You have our sympathies as there is no game quite like Trials in terms of frustration giving way to utter triumph. Well it’s time to brace yourself, purchase some anti-wrinkle cream and a bottle of hair dye as Red Lynx release a new DLC pack, entitled Origins of Pain.
Comprising of thirty one new events of varying degrees of difficulty, Origins of Pain is exactly what you’d expect from a Trials add-on. Probably the stand out feature this time around is the inclusion of a new ride, the Gecko 520 which is an actual non-motorised pedal bike. There is next to no weight to the Gecko, making it super responsive and the first few attempts of using it will result in the rider going face first into object. It works well and it serves as a swift kick in the nether regions for veterans as it forces them to learn a new discipline, levelling the playing field once again.
Track design is king when it comes to Trials, and Origins of Pain is littered with exceptional examples, that exhibit the same level of polish and are designed for maximum impact.
Carnival of Rust is circus themed, with a soundtrack that screams unadulterated horror for those who suffer from Coulrophobia. But in typical Trials style there’s something deeply funny about the clown horn noises that emanate from the crumpled rider when they crash. Thankfully no clowns appear… not that this reviewer is afraid of them or anything. No siree…
Jet Lag looks like the set of a planned sequel to Con-Air, all burning fuselage and wrecked planes (but sadly no Nicolas Cage wearing denims or a mullet), while Flow like Water attempts to recreate a Zen Garden with its Japanese feel. Except the language coming from the player is anything but calm and purely industrial, as blood vessels pop and frustration kicks in once again, only for Trials to make a mockery of the plaintative wails of “it can’t be done!” as you then nail a tricky section on one go. Trials is still like that; you can blame all manner of factors but it’s always the player, never the game, and it’s refreshing that this is still the case in this DLC.
Origins of Pain is exactly what you’d expect it to be; jam-packed with new challenges, features and a whole new lexicon of swearing to indulge in, with the satisfaction of mastery a mere flick of the analogue stick away. Just make sure you stock up on hair care products the next time you pass the grooming aisle when shopping, because you’ll need it.