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Trials Evolution: Review

Platformers have been a staple genre since early gaming, and recent years have seen a lease of life for platform-gaming with Fez, Braid and Portal offering innovative approaches. The original release of Trials HD in 2009 introduced us to physic-based motorcycle platforming, and since then we’ve been hooked. With the latest release of the franchise offering the same addictive gameplay, the Trials series has made its mark on platforming history.

Over 60 tracks await you as you progress through levels inspired by the D-Day landings, Inception and Limbo. Stepping out of the dark warehouses of Trials HD is revitalising for the, with greater variety not just in the tracks, but the views offered by developers RedLynx. The creativity in some of the better tracks is admirable, but each time we stopped to take in the gorgeous views or the imaginative design we were punished with a face plant to the floor: reminding us that it may look great, but it is the same unforgiving, fast-paced racing we’ve loved. Licence tests dotted in-between levels serve as episodic tutorials. Although it might be nice to be taught these skills from the start, splitting each lesson up makes learning the ability to bunny hop or jump, that bit more digestible, and breaks up the gameplay nicely.

Choose from a range of bikes and customise your appearance.

Early courses offer ramps, loop the loops and clever tricks, presenting more of a rollercoaster than a track. For the most part simply holding accelerate and positioning your bike sensibly will get you through the majority of the early outings. But it’s not all easy sailing, with later levels challenging the grey matter as you attempt to solve the traps, puzzles and changes of gravity. The ramp ahead may tempt you to accelerate at full speed, but doing so will cause you doom. You’ll have to reassess what you’ve previously been taught in order to solve these harder challenges and gain the gold medal.

But doom is a huge part of Trials Evolution, with the completion of each track resulting in spectacular destruction laid upon your rag-doll driver. On the way to the finish line you will crash again and again, which may be frustrating when aiming for a clean run, but also offers hilarious results as the driver smashes his head, back or groin into various objects. RedLynx is fully aware of the fun this can offer, even rewarding the most spectacular of crashes with achievements.

Although surviving the perilous single-player courses is the obvious task, hooking up to Xbox Live (which you’ll need to first download the game) opens up a whole new competitive aspect. Friend’s ghosts and times are displayed on each track. The curiosity to discover just why your friend is five seconds faster than you becomes an obsession as you replay the track over and over, scrutinising how you land, your speed and if its best to back-flip on that jump or not. The multiplayer mode is more clear cut: come first with as few mistakes as possible over a selection of courses to win the glory. The multiplayer maps are simpler than the single-player outings, focusing on smooth riding and landings rather than puzzles and traps.

The tension and fun of multiplayer races is a must-play experience.

A third mode puts your skills to the test. Launch from a ramp with wings attached to see how far you can travel before hitting to deck or control a metal ball around a course full of traps. Its enough to keep you entertained for a few minutes and fills out the game nicely, but isn’t anything apart from secondary entertainment.

A level editor is also included, although difficulties controlling the camera and placing objects means emulating the exceptional detail of the developers will only be achieved by the talented few with too much time on their hands. Although it offers a vast range of options, it is too laborious and clunky to tempt us to spend any great deal of times getting to grips with, especially when the main gameplay is so accessible and rewarding.

Speeding through rocky landscapes or industrial parks with rocking beats and your friend’s ghosts is a joy that takes us back to our fondest memories of Sonic speeding through levels. You’ll be punching the air when you finally beat an adversary’s fastest time and each time your beat a track and achieve a clean run. This is platforming at its fastest, sexiest and coolest.

9/10

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