Motorbikes are cool. This fact is indisputable. They are also deadly, hard to maintain and needlessly fiddly. Ironically, that description could equally fit Trials: Evolution, the latest instalment in RedLynx’s dirtbike balancing series.
For those who missed the infuriatingly addictive and devilishly difficult Trials HD, in the Trials games you control a motorbike on a 2d race course, with lots of jumps and explosions and other cool, manly things. The twist is that you have to balance your rider with the left analogue stick, and judge your landings carefully. You won’t even get off the start line if you just hold down RT.
It’s a novel control scheme, and it works really well. The controls in the new Trials game, Evolution, are exactly the same, as are the fundamental mechanics of the game. Same old, same old, right? Well, if you want to miss the point entirely, then it’s a fair point. Where the game differs from the first XBLA title is the variety in its levels and the increased scope for community involvement.
I’ll tackle the increased variety in levels first: the first game took place exclusively in a dingy warehouse, which felt a little samey after a while. This game, however, boasts levels that defy expectations and physics. There’s an early course, for example, where you storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day. That’s not a typo, this actually happens. And it’s awesome!
Other levels include a Chernobyl level and a level inspired by Sin City, the graphic novel and film. There is also a level based on the ridiculously overrated indie game ‘Limbo’ which is entirely black and white and easily the worst course in the game. Easily.
The graphics in Evolution are very impressive, with a true sense of scale when you’re plummeting down a hill that feels like a vertical drop and some stunning backgrounds, and indeed background effects (which include UFOs and bomber planes.)
A very addictive part of the game is the way that dots representing your Xbox Live friends appear when you’re racing, showing how they did on the same course. This ensures that you’re always racing with someone, even in the single player modes, and is a great feature, even if it keeps you glued to the game for hours when you could be doing more productive things.
Community involvement is the games other big selling point; the game features a ‘Track Central’ option in the menus; select this and you’ll be taken to a LittleBigPlanet-esque selection of community tracks made in the games suprisingly deep track editor. While the levels vary widely in quality from amazing to amazingly bad, this form of community involvement is something I like to see in games. Track Central should prove to be a great way for players to get some free DLC, and ensure the games longetivity.
Evolution also features another improvement over Trials HD; the inclusion of local and online multiplayer. Here at Gamer Nation we love multiplayer modes, and we especially love local multiplayer. There’s nothing quite like crowding around the TV with some mates and playing a game, and then hitting them when you lose. It’s hard to replicate that feeling online.
Multiplayer works as you’d expect, with up to four players taking part in the Trials fun. Track Central comes into its own here; while playing a bad level can be torturous on your own, when you’re playing with friends it can fast become hilarious.
Should you buy Trials Evolution? Yes. While we’d rather see it at the lower 800 points price point, you definitely get value for money for the 1200 points it costs, and you’ll sink hours into it trying to beat your friends times. Also, there’s a bonus mode where you fling your biker off the bike and make him fly for as long as possible, which is always good for a laugh (or stress relief).