Games / Reviews

Trials Evolution – The Art of Dying

Drive forward, attempt to belly-flop over the rocky obstacle, die. Drive forward, tilt too much to the right and crush your spine, die. Drive forward, attempt a loop-the-loop and crash to the ground fracturing every bone, die. The basic formula of Trials Evolution is that, no matter whether you complete the level or take 500 attempts to get there, you are going to die. Not only that, but the sheer nature of Trials Evolution is so addicting and frustrating at the same time that it is quite possible that not only will your character die from driving into confusingly placed explosive barrels, but that you may be overwhelmed by sickness from spending countless nights trying to earn that next gold medal, neglecting sleep and basic toiletry functions at the same time.

There is no main story or narrative to drive Trials Evolution; there is just you, riding a bike, from point A to point B and trying to die as few times as possible in-between. The more you die, the less prestigious medal you will be rewarded with at the end  so to earn that gold medal, you’ll need to abstain from dying throughout the entire track – a feat that sounds easy on paper but when you get to the levels that require you to seemingly deny the very laws of physics, no amount of well-placed checkpoints are going to aid you in conquering the beast before you. I hope you’ve brought your game with you because you will need every ounce of skill, precision and patience to be able to deliver a good enough score to obtain those gold medals.

Even with the game’s love of driving you clinically insane with the later, more extreme, levels, there is still a very clear sense of ‘just one more’ syndrome going on with this game. You know the drill: “I need to go to work and earn money, but I’ll just play one more level of Trials Evolution before I’m off”. Four hours, one less job and a gurgling stomach later, and you don’t even realize how much you’ve actually played until you see the results in front of you. Trials Evolution grabs a hold of you with a grip so tight and vice-like that you won’t even want to get it off of you when it gives you this game to play as a reward. As a gamer, it’s a wonderful creation whereas as somebody who actually needs to get something productive done, it’s downright evil.

You think you’ll be done with this game in a few hours, never to revisit it again? Think again, oh mindless gaming slave. The amount of content on offer in Trials Evolution will not only captivate you for hours upon hours on end, but the inclusion of a track editor and ‘track central’ (a hub for all creations to be found and downloaded) ensures that there is an almost limitless amount of content to play through. With the track editor on offer used to create the tracks included with the single-player game, it’s safe to say that the community of the game will soon be coming up with quirky, obscenely difficult tracks to make you pull the remaining strands of hair out from your heavily wounded scalp.

Whereas some games on various smartphone platforms offer frustratingly addictive experiences to keep you coming back, Trials Evolution offers the same thing but for the Xbox 360 console. It’s not difficult to draw comparisons with games such as Angry Birds (there’s even an Angry Birds track to download) due to the familiar sense of that ‘just one more’ syndrome as mentioned earlier. I dare say that if this game was on a mobile platform rather than a console, it would be topping the charts left, right and centre due to everybody wiling away their hours. As it stands, Trials Evolution offers the exact same thing, only on a less-mobile contraption.

Trials Evolution moves away from the one-environment setting of it’s predecessor, 2009’s Trials HD, and offers gorgeous visuals to view whilst you’re attempting that next obstacle. From exquisite sunsets to moonlit forests and even exploding battlefields, there is great variation on offer to make the world of Trials expand well beyond the one warehouse of the first game. I never played Trials HD but it doesn’t take a creative wizard to deduce that no matter how imaginative your tracks were after you’d created them, the identical back-drop was going to deny the track any chance of looking remotely unique to the rest. With the availability of such fine outdoor (and indoor) environments to go along with your designed track, that should no longer be possible. After all, who wants to speed down threatening slopes inside a darned warehouse when you can do the same thing but outdoors, with the sun shining against your face?

A great set of tools to keep the creative juices flowing and a nice set of graphic enhancements are good and all but does the game play as well as them? The answer is a resounding yes. The controls are extremely simple for a game that demands so much from you; you have your acceleration mapped to the RT button, brake to the LT button and the left analog stick controls tilt movements, vital for maneuvering through the various obstacles. That is it. From looking at some of the levels created, both by developer and community, it’s impossible to think that some of those perilous obstacles can be defeated by three simple controls and yet that is exactly what happens. That being said, it is still up to you to utilize those simple control methods in order to get through the track, and that is not as easy as it would sound. Whereas some games offer you success based on a game of how lucky you are, Trials Evolution chooses to abolish that entire concept and throws luck out of the window in favor of skill. No amount of lucky rabbit’s feet will get you through the level with a gold medal reward at the end. Only your skill and precision at timing jumps will get that for you. You will likely fail so much at your first attempt of the game that you’ll feel like giving up, but practice makes perfect.

It wouldn’t be enough for Trials Evolution to offer you extensive single-player tracks and an editor to create more, would it? No, says RedLynx, as they throw a healthy dose of multiplayer at you. Now you can die miserably in the company of others! I haven’t paid much attention to the multiplayer so I’ll keep this short, but dying with three other players makes for a wonderfully fun, yet heinously competitive, experience that cannot be found when you’re playing by yourself. The matchmaking was painfully slow when I attempted it, whether through fault of the servers or my intermittently acceptable internet connection, but it worked when I got there. Nothing changes in the multiplayer – you still have to get from A to B with as few deaths in-between as you can manage. When you’re racing through and seeing others soar ahead as though they have anti-gravity modules on their wheels to better the obstacles, it can be both a fun, comedic experience or one that you wish you’d never set eyes upon. Trials Evolution already offers more than enough to keep your brain engaged for ungodly amounts of time and the inclusion of multiplayer (both online and off) only adds to that. RedLynx wants your every being dedicated to their game and they’ve done a fine job of succeeding at it.

Whilst offering limitless amounts of content can be a fantastic thing to uphold, it can also have a detrimental effect. When you load up the game and see all of these single-player tracks, community-created tracks and an editor to make more, it’s easy to simply sit there, mouth agape, and say “Where do I start?”. It’s even harder to sit there and ask yourself “Where do I end?”. Whilst games that seemingly offer no end objective offer much more in the guise of replay-ability and longevity, they can often be rather intimidating to a player who likes to know where to start and where to end. Given the fact that Trials Evolution has a beginning that you must decide for yourself, and an end that is either non-existent or grows further away every time a new track is created, some people may decide that they don’t want to play a game that they can never fully complete and leave it at that. If you do, I will assure you that you’ll be missing out on a damn fine experience.

Trials Evolution is a remarkable game with the content it offers for such a low price. Endless hours of fun and personal time will surely be consumed as you continue your quest to get gold medals on everything in the game, and that’s before you even touch the multiplayer or the tracks created by other players. Not content with offering an endless supply of tracks, the game also delivers top-quality graphics to make the experience visually impressive as well as gameplay wise. With what’s on offer here, you would be forgiven for being confused as to why they didn’t put this game onto a disc and sell it at full retail value, as this is simply an arcade game yet offers much more than most ‘proper’ console games. Your pocket may approve of not being emptied entirely, but your time spent doing productive things, such as work or urinating, will likely dwindle to such a degree that you will want to banish the game into the pits of Hell. Still, get ready to die as Trials Evolution is going to take a hold of you and never let go.

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