Trials Evolution review

Trials Evolution  - 1100852

Who says you can’t find success in downloadable games?  RedLynx released Trials HD a few years back as part of Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade program.  The challenging yet entertaining racer has turned out to be a huge seller, with two million units downloaded and hundreds of thousands of players logging race times, daring others to beat them.  It’s a game that deserves the praise it’s gotten — but little did we know that RedLynx would be setting the stage for the monumental sequel that is Trials Evolution.  There’s a damn good reason Ubisoft picked these guys up — they clearly know what they’re doing.

Every addictive quality that was present and accounted for in the original Trials HD is also in Evolution, from the big jumps to the cool physics that require you to land in JUST the right way or risk flipping over on your head and taking a dive.  The course design remains their true talent, with plenty of loops, moving ramps, roller coaster-style roads and challenges that require you to be at your very best if you even want to come close to earning anything past a bronze medal.

But don’t let Evolution fool you.  While the game is trying in certain cases, it’s never to the point of being truly punishing.  In fact, Evolution has a reverse effect of sorts, in which you feel compelled to try again, see where you did something wrong, and try to make a cleaner run.  It helps to memorize the courses and truly master them, for the sake of earning a stronger medal and, more importantly, a good place in the leaderboards.  And some of those special skills challenges are a bit wacky.  Some require you to flap your arms like a bird, while others have you directing a UFO or a skier through the tracks.  They’re good fun, though.

Trials Evolution is definitely fun when it comes to challenging the best times online through Xbox Live, as you continuously look for ways to boost your time, even if it’s by a second to get the better of the other guy (or girl).  What’s more, if you feel like a direct challenge, you can also hop into four-player racing events, proving your worth on (slightly) simpler tracks, like in the old school style.  It’s a bit shallow compared to competing for bragging rights on times, but it’ll suffice for those seeking a little head-to-head action.

Trials’ gameplay is sheer addiction, perfectly balanced yet hardly a pushover.  However, the sequel does have a slightly more lenient difficulty curve than the first game, not getting too hard too quick, but still reminding you who’s boss.  What’s more, the gameplay holds up just fine, with plenty of opportunity to do tricks, along with the reminder that if you don’t land it, you’re eating dirt.

With Evolution, RedLynx introduces an astonishing new community feature with the track editor.  Here, you can build your own racing utopia, with user-friendly tools and a variety of backgrounds to choose from.  Starting today, you’ll be able to upload them onto Xbox Live, sharing them with others and even challenging them on your own terrain.  Who knows, someone just might be able to kick your butt.  Maybe.

RedLynx has gone a long way with the graphics between the first game and Evolution.  Bigger outdoor environments await you here with breathtaking detail, from the torn-apart train yard with collapsing cars to the high-up mounted railways that can break away with just the slightest bit of weight.  The view is wide enough so you can see where you’re going to land, but not to the point where you’ll truly master the course the first time around.  The frame rate is smooth, the bikes look fantastic, and the rag-doll physics of your rider are hilarious, especially when they bite it at the finish line.  All that racing for nothing!

The music is excellent too.  Featuring a number of original licensed tracks and musical compositions by the great Mike Reagan, it’s an eclectic mix of racing fun.  And you can always interject your own music, if you’re bored.  The sound effects are fun, especially when your rider whoops and hollers one minute, then groans in pain from crashing the next.

The only fault we can truly find with Trials Evolution is that the hard tracks are just that — insanely hard.  You’ll need the physics of a ballerina and the patience of a nuclear tester to make it through these on bronze.  Otherwise, everything about this game — the design, the challenges, the track editor, the multiplayer, the presentation — clicks so flawlessly it’s insane.  We’ve got one of the best games of 2012 right here with Trials Evolution, and the scary part is RedLynx may just be getting started.  Imagine what the third game will bring…

Amazing

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Robert Workman
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