There are many clichés in gaming. One of the most popular is that games today are far too easy and that they provide little or no challenge. Well, RedLynx have decided to bring some serious pain back to gaming with their XBLA release Trials HD.
Trials HD is a physics based stunt racer where the player must traverse a course in as quick a time as possible, without incurring penalties or crashing. It sounds simple, coupled with the controls stretching beyond little more than the Right trigger to accelerate, Left trigger to brake and judicious use of the Left stick to affect the balance of the rider. But beneath this welcoming exterior beats a heart of pure malevolence.
After the gentle introduction provided by the beginner levels, the challenge soon presents itself, as each new track is an exercise in how to construct the most outlandish and devious tracks imaginable. Using the simple but impressive degree of control, the game manages to wring even more precision from the 360`s controller that previously thought possible. The audacity of the moves that can be pulled off is a testament to the developers, since the player always feels like they are in control.
There is no question that perseverance is a requisite for Trials HD. A thirty minute/ five hundred attempt limit is imposed and, while that might sound generous, this concession will be sorely tested as the player makes progress. While it would be kind to say that players might well become frustrated by Trials HD on times, it is addictive to say the very least. The checkpoint system is perfectly judged, so that every little section cleared is a small victory in the larger scale. But personal challenge is nothing when you consider the craftiest feature within Trials HD.
The ability to follow the scores of people on your friends list in real-time, via a tracker situated at the top of the screen, creates a ferocious sense of competition, especially when they stay infuriatingly out of reach by a few tenths of a second.
If the physics and explosions contained within Trials HD are impressive, the undoubted stars are the tracks themselves. Even the earlier examples show an attention to detail more at home in a full retail release, let alone a download title. Some of the later tracks can appear bewildering, looking more like a platform game than any kind of trick racer, but that’s a major part of the charm; the notion that you and the bike will surmount these challenges.
A palm sweating, head pounding, nerve shredding, fist shaking triumph, every course in Extreme mode will be treasured as if the player had just beaten Usain Bolt in the 100 metres sprint. Without question Trials HD can be reasonably considered an absolute classic. Though a tough challenge to surmount, the rewards are so great that any self-respecting gamer owes it to themselves to surrender to its charms, to “man up” and accept the challenge.