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Best of it's genre

Review: Trials Evolution

by April 24, 2012

Being a professional game reviewer people often say to me “Jason since you play all kinds of games on all kinds of systems and then are able to give reviews on them all you must be great at video games”.  I’m just like anyone else, there are games I’m great at and there are games where I see my character die 100 times or more. The first Trials was a prime example of this, in that game I crashed like I was playing with my hands asleep.

I can say that with Trials Evolution my hands are now awake.

The fears that Trials Evolution would be a full priced expansion of Trials HD can finally be put to rest. Trials Evolution is just what the title says. A true evolution of the franchise and the sky is the limit from this point.

When you start Trails Evolution the first thing that will catch you is the opening music, it’s horrific, it’s like they took a Mr. T impersonator and had him rap the opening. I don’t know who this fellow is but I would not be surprised if other songs in his catalog have the phrases “pity the fool” and “What’s your prediction for the fight? Pain”.

What’s worse is that I actually kinda’ like it.

Air wipeout

I can see my house from up here!

Once you start single player the change to Trails will become evident, instead of being inside a broken down warehouse you’re outside and it makes a world of difference. You can now soar over giant jumps and fall down spaces hundreds of feet deep. Going from a claustrophobic design to this wide open design is a much needed addition. The first Trials was like having an awesome dirt bike but being under house arrest, 1000 ccs doesn’t mean much when all you can do is drive around your bedroom.

In Trials Evolution you have a set of powerful dirt bikes and some nice variations in track design that take advantage of every one, that’s right, time off for good behavior!

For anyone who thinks that Trials Evolution is dumbed down to cater to a wider audience, I’m happy to report that is not the case. Once again the game comes down the the amazing physics engine that puts you in control and when you mess up it’ll be on you. What has changed is that there’s a much better learning curve in Evolution that allows you to grow as a player, that’s not to say that anyone who plays will become a master at the game but the climb to the end of the single player campaign is more of a gradual incline.

There are a few “gimmie” tracks that give you the basics and then from that point on it’s survival of the fittest. Even the most seasoned player will find themselves hitting the back button trying to do a flawless run.

The single player campaign is divided into sets of tracks that range in various difficulties with license tests in between. To advance to the next class of license you need to get a certain number of medals. That’s accomplished by clearing previous tracks with either bronze, silver, or gold which grants you 1, 2, or 3 medals. In order to progress through the game you’re going to have to score a gold on just about every event with only a few miscues. On one hand this forces the player to replay levels trying to get the best possible time with no faults. On the other hand there are just some levels that are more difficult for a certain user. One person may find a hard track difficult to beat while another one can beat that track with relative ease, but a track on a medium level holds them up. I don’t like the idea of keeping content locked due to performance, it’s not a question of grinding it’s a question of skill and some people will never have that skill for a certain track.

The first Trials was like having an awesome dirt bike but being under house arrest.

This brings me to a gripe I have about the ghosts system, I love ghost systems in games because they allow you to race against your friend’s list while they’re not around. The problem is that your friends are only labeled with a screen name and a dot showing their position. Considering how heavily the way you position your bike while racing on the course matters in the game I would have hoped that ghosts were done in a way to show an outline of the character so you could get tips from how your friends finished certain races. It’s not a big deal because we live in a world with YouTube but it would still have been nice to see.

Once you finish the “standard” part of the single player career, there are the hardest tracks to complete plus other things the RedLynx team has tossed in to give you extra incentive to keep playing.

If after all of their stuff you still want more there’s a robust track creator. There’s a novice and advanced track editor and the sky is the limit for what you can create. There is also an area where you can download content from all the users that submit their tracks broken down by category and user rating. Overall this is the kind of title that has legs because there are some truly talented people providing tracks right now.

On the multiplayer side of things it’s exactly what you think it would be. There’s an option to play with people in the room or on XBOX Live and then you either join a match or build your own. After the first few days there’s been no lag whatsoever and it’s played beautifully in joining random matches or ones that I built.

multiplayer

It’s not good being the guy in the far back

The only other problem I have with the game lies in it’s multiplayer mode. The races can have up to three other racers join you and since the view is a 2D style that means that it’s going to be four racers deep and while you traverse the course trying to win, at some point in time there could be as many as three other bikes in front of yours. With a game that relies on position and placement this many I think this was a poor choice. I would like to have seen a way to make everyone’s character the first one in the row on everyone’s console, this way you don’t need to worry about being obstructed by the other racers.

The sound in the game is great, the squealing of the tires, the roar of the engine, the explosions, everything is done wonderfully to create another layer of immersion while you race on these tracks.

COULD BE HELPFUL WITH ANXIETY BECAUSE

  • Gradual learning curve
  • Addictive “just one more level” gameplay
  • Controls need constant attention

COULD BE UNHELPFUL WITH ANXIETY BECAUSE

  • Trying to do flawless runs to unlock later challenges can be stressful
  • Cold/numb hands could make you imprecise with the controls

WHY YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING THIS

Trials Evolution is a much better game then Trials HD, especially for anxiety. I wouldn’t touch Trials HD when I was anxious because everything from the gloomy setting to the steep learning curve to the inability to unlock later skill levels just made it a game that wouldn’t help take my mind off things. Evolution is a different animal all around. The environments are much better in variety and length so even if you need to repeat a level a few times you don’t feel like you’re repeating the same level that you’ve been playing all game long. The game as a whole is difficult but the combined quality of the single player campaign, multiplayer and user content make this a must have game for anyone.

This review was based on the Xbox 360 version that was provided by the reviewer.

Overview
Release Date

April 18, 2012

Digital or Retail

Digital

Platform

XBOX 360

Developer

RedLynx

Publisher

RedLynx

Badges
AwardsBest of it's genrePlay it no matter whatConsistently good games from developer
Positives

Great controls, imaginative level design, overflowing with content

Negatives

Character placement in multiplayer, not able to see full characters as ghosts

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Gameplay
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Sound
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