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Gaming Review

'Trials Evolution' review (Xbox Live): Everything a sequel should be

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Released on Thursday, Apr 19 2012

Trials Evolution

© Ubisoft


Also available on: N/A
Developer: RedLynx
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Racing-platformer

Trials Evolution is the sequel to the enormously successful Xbox Live Arcade release Trials HD, a game that combined dirt bikes with physics-based platform action. Critically-acclaimed, winner of countless awards and selling by the bucketload, it would have been easy for developer RedLynx to churn out a quick sequel and count the money. But Trials Evolution is so much more, taking the best bits from the original, making countless improvements and adding new and exciting content.

Although Trials Evolution is simple enough to pick up and play, it's surprisingly difficult to categorise and even harder to master. It features fast-paced dirt bikes, time trial events and even four-player races, but it feels more like LittleBigPlanet or Sonic The Hedgehog than your average racing game. On a very basic level, the game sees players speed through obstacle-ridden courses as quickly as possible, adjusting the rider's position to maintain balance, land jumps and perform flips and tricks. The controls boil down to nothing more than accelerating, braking and shifting your weight.

Trials Evolution

© Ubisoft

However, with the game's 60 single-player courses littered with loops, moving platforms, explosive canisters and even swinging wrecking balls, races take on another dimension, becoming incredibly elaborate and insanely difficult. Restarts are instant, whether going back to the beginning or the last checkpoint, so you'll often find yourself having "one more go", especially with friends' times taunting you on the leaderboards. In this sense, everything that made the original such a compelling and addictive release remains intact.

The game is a little more welcoming this time around, however, drip-feeding new tricks and skills incrementally, rather than surreptitiously shoving them into advancing courses. Trials Evolution better prepares players for the challenge that lies ahead by tutoring players during license tests. New skills such as bunny-hopping and see-saw techniques are explained as you progress, and introduced in subsequent races. It's certainly not easier than before, but it's most definitely fairer, moving along at a steadier pace.

With the gameplay remaining untouched, the development team has used its budget to inject a little more flair into the game's surroundings, replacing the dull warehouse setting with an array of spectacular outdoor courses. The impact this has on the game is huge. Not only will you want to revisit courses to better your score, but also to soak in some of the stunning sights, whether it's rickety old train tracks, war-torn trenches, floating fantasy islands or even a monochrome platform level that pays homage to fellow indie hit Limbo.


Although linear, courses wind and curve around the surrounding countryside, occasionally pulling back to reveal breathtaking vistas and mesmerising sunsets, or zooming in to showcase underground caverns and explosive interiors. The courses are longer and much more varied, constantly surprising players with brand new visual effects. The reward for besting these gorgeous tracks, meanwhile, is a comedic death scene involving your unlucky rider. Being flushed from a floating island, blown up by a nuclear submarine or shot through the air is enormously funny, and in keeping with the original's sense of humour.

And the improvements don't stop there. In its quest to liven up the title, the developer has added a number of mini-games, some of which prove just as addictive as the racing. One game has players launch their rider into the air and flap a set of makeshift wings in an attempt to nail the furthest jump, others limit the amount of gas available or disable braking, while one game even introduces UFOs. Not all are successful, however, a Marble Madness-style puzzle stage doesn't quite handle how it should, while limiting the rider's leaning ability is just plain annoying. For the most part, however, the mini-games are great, proving an occasional distraction to the real business of nailing high-scores.

'Trials Evolution' screenshot

© Ubisoft

The game also ups the ante in terms of its multiplayer output. Setting times and competing against friends' scores remains the most enjoyable way to experience the game, although four-player online races against ghost riders isn't far behind. Local Micro Machines-style races against friends, meanwhile, are a laugh a minute, and, thanks to the simple controls, can be enjoyed by almost anybody. Local and online tournament play is also included, adding more laughs and longevity to a game blessed with enough single-player content to last a lifetime, or at least until the next sequel is released.

Finally, Trials Evolution adds one of the most comprehensive level editing suites since Sony's LittleBigPlanet, opening up near endless possibilities for user-generated content. Very much still in its infancy, the level editor suite is yet to show its potential, but there are a few gems already available online, and thousands more to come. It's a fairly user-friendly tool, although we're yet to craft anything that comes close to matching the content already on the game.

Trials Evolution takes the original's winning formula, improves the presentation, adds new game modes, multiplayer content and caps it off with an unbelievably deep level editing suite, giving the sequel near infinite replay value. Far from a lazy follow-up, or a quick cash-in, Trials Evolution takes a massive leap forward, proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that Xbox Live Arcade releases can hang with the best of them. The clue is in the name, this is a sequel that has well and truly evolved.


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