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Trial Evolution Review

Developer: RedLynx | Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 04/18/12 | Genre: Platform

Trials Evolution is the sequel to one of Xbox Live's top selling Arcade games. To the uninitiated, what at first appears to be a motorcycle racing or driving game gives way to something else. At first, navigating the course takes little more than an open throttle. However, as your progress to the more difficult tracks, you'll start to learn that shifting the rider's weight back and forth, angling the bike, and judicious use of both the throttle and break are all vital to completing a course. No, Trialsis not driving game; it's a platformer. Of course to veterans, this is nothing new.

The single player campaign of Trials Evolution is plays much like its predecessor. You'll make progress through a variety of courses grouped by difficulty. The game is called Trials for a reason (well, maybe more than one reason). You will fail. A lot. That is the essential gameplay of Trials, practicing a course, and then attempting to perfect it.

Far from frustrating, it's addictive. The satisfying play between the physics of the bike and your controls keeps the gameplay grounded in skill, so you always know that you'll be able to do it after just one more try (or maybe more). The latter courses of the game can be extremely difficult, but even for those who would rather not bother with the most challenges courses, there is enough content in the game for all players to enjoy.

So far, I've pretty much just described Trials HD, the predecessor to this latest entry. It's true enough; the gameplay is basically the same in the sequel. However, I can confidently say that if you enjoyed Trials HD, you'll really enjoy Evolution. For those that haven't played Trials before, Evolutionsis a little better at easing you in. "License Test" trials sprinkled throughout the campaign are a welcome addition. They teach you the techniques you'll need to master the courses that follow.

While the gameplay is basically identical, the course designs are varied and more imaginative. Clearly, RedLynx had some fun designing these tracks. While the first game was mostly confined to indoor, warehouse-type environments, there is a lot more variety here in Evolution, including plenty of outdoor courses with large, gorgeous vistas. For the most part, these improvements are just aesthetic, but Trials's trademark humor is often on display, and there were many things I saw on the courses that made me smile. It wouldn't be a Trialsgame without plenty of creative ways to off the poor rider. You'll also find a few amusing homages to other games. While most of the improvements to track designs are aesthetic, you'll definitely come across a few clever new mechanics too. Like the first game, many of the courses make use of environmental physics gameplay. Without spoiling it, I'll say that there are a couple of very clever, amusing sequences that threw me for a loop.

Like the previous game, Trials Evolution has a number of single player skill games. In general, I enjoyed these just as much as the vanilla Trials gameplay. In Trials HD, most of the skill games involved riding your bike under some special circumstance. They offered a different way to play while sharpening your skills at the same time. The skill games in Evolutionare all new; none of them have been recycled. To give you an example, one of the skill games has you trying to go as far as you can on a bike that has no brakes and the throttle is stuck open. The only control you have is to lean the rider forward or back. Another example, though difficult to describe, is a skill game in which you have to balance a ball on top of your bike as you navigate a course. However, most of the other skill games don't have anything to do with riding a bike. I suppose they're designed to show of what the game engine and the track editor can do. They can be fun, but I didn't enjoy this set of skill games as much as the ones available in the previous game.

I wasn't particularly fond of the Trials HD soundtrack, but it didn't bother me either. Evolutionhas some music that I don't mind, but it also has some songs that I absolutely can't stand. I'm sure it appeals to plenty of people out there, but I know I'm not the only one that thinks the music here can seriously detract from the experience.

There are two big additions in Evolution. One of them is the multiplayer. In this case, it sort of is like a race. You can race against three other players simultaneously. The gameplay is basically the same, as you can't directly affect one another. In Supercross mode, you race against the other players on a track that is four lanes wide. You want to finish as fast as possible, but wiping out hits you with a stiff penalty (so you can still lose if you finish first but suffered multiple faults). In Trials mode, you race "live ghosts" of your opponents, and you just need to finish as fast as you can, regardless of faults. In either case, the gameplay is not really different from single player, except that the thrill of seeing your opponent stumble or sticking that perfect landing and pulling ahead of the pack can still be exciting.

The second big addition is the level editor and sharing system. The first Trials also had a level editor, but you could only share custom tracks with Friends, and the amount of tools available pales in comparison to what's offered now. You shouldn't be surprised after seeing what communities like the LittleBigPlanet players can do, but the level of creativity on display from Trials Evolutioncommunity creators is amazing. The game itself presents a nice interface for browsing through player created content in a number of ways, so it's easy to find something new and interesting to play, from creative, but straightforward Trials tracks, to custom minigames. If the main campaign is not enough for you, the player created levels will really make it worth your while. There's already plenty of great stuff available.

If you liked Trials HD, this is pretty much a no-brainer. Get Trials Evolution. Try the demo if you're not sure what you're getting into. I'm pretty sure that most players will be hooked.

By Andrew Thivyanathan - 05/04/12
ESRB Details: Mild Violence
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