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Trials Evolution Review

5
  • XBGS

Evolution gives you just about everything you could want out of a Trials sequel.

If you want to pop a wheelie on Stonehenge, this is your game.
If you want to pop a wheelie on Stonehenge, this is your game.

True to its name, Trials Evolution is the biggest, baddest version yet of RedLynx's brutally tough physics-based motorbike racing-platforming thing. The heart and soul of Trials hasn't changed one bit; it's still all about forcing you through the most complicated obstacle courses you could conceivably navigate on two wheels. Considering all I really wanted after playing Trials HD was more Trials, that's a great thing. And this time, the trimmings around that core conceit are so robust and the sheer content so plentiful that it's hard to imagine Trials getting much better than this for 15 bucks.

I won't deny frequently wanting to throw the controller at the TV while playing Trials Evolution. Come to think of it, this wouldn't be a Trials game if I didn't feel that way, but it's not like the game goes out of its way to maliciously abuse you. It's harsh but fair. After all, the gameplay in Trials hinges on a grounded, plausible physics model where even the slightest throttling or braking or leaning has great significance to the way your bike handles, and there's always a way to get over the most absurdly angled ramp or crazy-looking jump, even if you haven't figured it out yet. As frustrating as some of the later courses can be, there's always room for you to improve with a little more practice and a little more finesse. Blaming Trials for being too hard is like getting mad at gravity when you fall down.

The good news for casual Trials fans or newcomers is that Evolution offers a gentler learning curve than Trials HD did, which wasted no time getting stupid hard and not offering you much else to do if you weren't interested in going really in-depth with the gameplay. There's a huge list of courses in Evolution and they're broken up sensibly, with a more gradual ramp in difficulty that's punctuated by occasional license tests which actually offer some good tutorials on how to do things like drive up an almost sheer incline. Make no mistake, there's still a point where the late-game courses get so technical that they're no longer intuitive and you have to inch your way through them slowly, failing a bunch of obstacles over and over until you master them. But by the time you get that far, there's a better chance you'll have at least some idea of how to tackle those crazy ramps and jumps without pulling out all your hair.

A little dirt skiing, anyone?
A little dirt skiing, anyone?

Other than a user-made track feature that was hamstrung by limited sorting features, the main course progression and a few wacky minigames were pretty much all there was to occupy you in Trials HD. So it's great that RedLynx has fleshed out the peripheral features so thoroughly in Evolution. The big story here is multiplayer. There's a rollicking four-player mode, ideal for talking trash, that works locally or online, where you compete through a series of rapid-fire tracks and earn points based on your time and number of faults. You can also compete through a more serious, by-the-numbers race where you only see ghost-style representations of the other players moving through the course at the same time. The game lets you rack up a bunch of money playing the single-player tracks and then buy a bunch of cosmetic gear for your rider so you can look unique when you compete, and I really appreciate that there's a straight-up color wheel that lets you colorize your outfit any way you want. More games should have that.

The short list of minigames from Trials HD has morphed into a veritable circus of skill games that have you largely leaving the bikes behind so you can ski on dirt or try to fly across a long jump field by flapping a pair of makeshift wings made out of boards. Even the ones that stick to the motorbikes are pretty ridiculous; one of them suggests that your brakes are broken and challenges you to get as far as you can with the bike's throttle pushed all the way down. The skill games are a great change of pace from the more seriously technical main levels. And since every level in the game is hooked directly into leaderboards and ghost data for your friends, it's a cinch to start competing with each other for better times, even indirectly.

Evolution's expanded user-generated content features may well be its most valuable feature, after some time passes and more great levels get made. The game makes the simple but extremely necessary improvement over Trials HD of letting you view user courses made by everyone, not just people on your friends list, and there's a wide variety of ways to search for and sort new levels, with some curated by the developer and others categorized by type and rating. There's--count 'em!--two level editors in here, one that makes it pretty easy for almost anyone to make simple courses that hew close to Trials' obstacle-course format. Then there's the "pro" editor, which lets you dig so deep into the engine and game mechanics that it's capable making things like a first-person shooter and an overhead-scrolling Raiden clone (which already exist). How is it possible this game quietly shipped with LittleBigPlanet in it? It's nuts.

Right? Right?
Right? Right?

This game also goes way, way over the top with the visuals in a way that Trials HD could only dream of. That game took place entirely in a pretty bland industrial warehouse sort of environment. By contrast, Evolution seems to have lost its damn mind. There's one course that takes place in a warzone, with planes dropping bombs all around you as you go, and another that seems to be set in Stonehenge under a blood-red sky. The pitch-perfect tribute to Limbo stands out as another memorable course, and most of the levels end with some kind of ridiculous animation that sends your rider flying into the moon or headfirst into a toilet. Something always seems to be blowing up nearby because, why not? There's a ton of variety in the art design and a general irreverence that pervades the entire game, down to the hilarious rapping about riding motorbikes that you hear when you boot the game up. It's hard not to feel some affection for a game that gets so randomly silly.

It's also hard to stop playing Trials Evolution for very long. The action is as tight and demanding as it ever was, and this time around it's such a fully featured and attractive package that you shouldn't miss it if you have any interest in this style of game at all. It's one of the best games to hit a downloadable service in a good long while.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
62 CommentsRefresh
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Avatar image for elyk247
Posted By Elyk247

Trials Evolution is awesome. Everyone should play this, but it can be really frustrating. The customization side of things is the best part. I would have given it a 4/5, though.

Avatar image for northedominator
Edited By Northedominator

I have not wanted to play any dirtbike games since ps1... this has changed that quickly I love this game.. its fun, its just plain awesome. The only thing is they have to release it on the playstation network..

Avatar image for inevpatoria
Posted By inevpatoria

I fucking hate this game. And I hate the stupid internet circlejerk around this game. 

Online
Avatar image for rmills87
Posted By rmills87

Yeah, since reading Brad's review and watching the QL, I had to give it a go. I would have to second Brad's opinion by saying that this XBLA game is balls-to-the-wall FUCKING AWESOME. Extremely addicting.

Avatar image for recroulette
Posted By recroulette

I feel stupid for not playing this game until now, it's really great.

Avatar image for zacagawea
Posted By Zacagawea

Definitely going to pick this up later this weekend.

Avatar image for deerokus
Posted By deerokus

@Goto10: That is probably the video encoding - the game is locked at 60 fps and is very smooth, I guess there could be some kind of stuttering introduced since the video is what... 30 fps at most?

Though the online play can sometimes be a bit screen-teary.

Avatar image for radioactivez0r
Posted By radioactivez0r

I got one of the TNT codes and I almost feel bad for not paying for this game, it's kind of awesome.

Avatar image for mmafanqc
Edited By MmaFanQc

@DarkFury said:

I've run into a number of bugs that I hope they can address with a title update. Otherwise, it's a great game.

the game is awesome, but with the terrible track creator control, unevolved gameplay, anemic online modes, does it diserve a perfect score? nope(imo off course)

that said, its a good 4.5/5

Avatar image for angrybadger
Posted By angrybadger

Who do I need to kidnap to get a PC version made?

Avatar image for goto10
Posted By Goto10

I noticed fairly apparent slowdown in the QL during some jumps (framerate wise), is that from the video being made, or is that in the game also?

Avatar image for somejerk
Posted By SomeJerk

Raw gameplay pleasure like this is greatly appreciated. Enjoyed KS on the C64 and the Amiga 500, loved a clone of it on the OG GameBoy, could see myself loving this if I had a 360 on my desk. Hope to see what the sales numbers look like after a month though.

Avatar image for lashe
Posted By Lashe

Trying to maintain top of my friends list has become a morning ritual before I can get on with the rest of my day. I think this is the only game I have cared enough to do this with since Geometry Wars 2.

And damn, if it isn't just fun.

Avatar image for astromarine
Posted By Astromarine

@FSFunky: What? I'm playing it in english and I'm in Switzerland.

Avatar image for dropabombonit
Posted By dropabombonit

Looks awesome, I have Been playing so much SSX lately that I could do with another competitive and hard as balls game. only problem is that i don't have a 360, any chance of this coming to PSN. Ubisoft owns the developers now so they could publish the game on PSN

Avatar image for xeirus
Posted By Xeirus

@deathfromace said:

@DBrim: Read what you just quoted...."It's one of the best games to hit a downloadable service in a good long while." It's one of the best games

I was about to say the same thing, hah

Avatar image for deathfromace
Posted By deathfromace

@DBrim: Read what you just quoted...."It's one of the best games to hit a downloadable service in a good long while." It's one of the best games

Avatar image for dbrim
Posted By DBrim

"It's one of the best games to hit a downloadable service in a good long while."

Journey says hello.

Avatar image for darkfury
Posted By DarkFury

I've run into a number of bugs that I hope they can address with a title update. Otherwise, it's a great game.

Avatar image for kaowas
Posted By Kaowas

I've been playing Trials since Wednesday, and I must concur 100% with this article. Trials is probably the best XBox Live Arcade game I've played in a long time (though there have been some amazing gems). The point is that Trials is sooooo damn good and should be played by many.

Avatar image for mnzy
Posted By mnzy

@FSFunky said:

The only knock I have against the game is that it has an absolutely horrid Dutch translation and there's no way to change the language, because it defines it by your geographic location.

Apparently the German translation sucks, too.

But are you sure about the last bit? It's English for me and I never changed my location, only the language.

Avatar image for bd_mr_bubbles
Posted By BD_Mr_Bubbles

Pick this and Fez up the next time i get paid.

Avatar image for zerosurge
Posted By ZeroSurge

Definitely buying this game now.

Avatar image for behonkiss
Posted By Behonkiss

I enjoyed the first Trials, but this sounds like a real big step above it. Can't wait to get this later tomorrow.

Avatar image for xeirus
Posted By Xeirus

@Napalm said:

Here we go again. Brad, "Greatest Game Ever Made" Shoemaker.

How about you play it, then talk shit?

Avatar image for therealminime
Posted By therealminime

I never played the first one, should I get this? I suppose I should just download the trial version and see.

Avatar image for weegieanawrench
Posted By weegieanawrench

The Quick Look sold me on it, I just need to get off my ass.

Avatar image for ez123
Posted By ez123

This game seems a great sequel exactly like Ms Splosion Man. The first games had okay levels and were boring to look at while the sequels added some much needed variety in level design and locations. Also, there's times where your character gets lost because of some other items in the foreground.

The difference being that one got much harder and one got easier. I think some reviews will reflect that.

Avatar image for bybeach
Posted By bybeach

It looks good. i understand the bit about the physics. it has to be subtle and refined if Brad favored a lessor CC engine because he had a better feel of the range. That could be controlled by gearing, but I don't know if the game goes quite there.

Avatar image for redbullet685
Posted By Redbullet685

I said in the QL that I'd buy it today, but I didn't. Definitely buying it tomorrow though. Looks so good.

Avatar image for futurenewbapps
Edited By FutureNewbApps

Great review Brad. I enjoyed the Quick Look too. Definitely going to add this to my backlog. I still have a few untouched areas in Trails HD.

Avatar image for arch4non
Posted By arch4non

"Blaming Trials for being too hard is like getting mad at gravity when you fall down." - Brad Shoemaker

A quote for the ages.

Avatar image for beard_of_zeus
Posted By beard_of_zeus
@Animasta said:

the last 5 reviews have been 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, so I knew this was going to happen :)

Huh, you're right. I wouldn't want to be the next game that gets reviewed.
 
To be on topic, this review is spot on. Game is awesome, but I figured most people knew that already =]
Avatar image for alex
Posted By alex

@TheHBK: I wholeheartedly agree with his review, if that helps you sleep at night.

Staff
Avatar image for chaostony
Posted By ChaosTony

Thanks for letting me play, Brad! One of the most intense games I've played.

Avatar image for supercancer
Posted By Supercancer

@FSFunky said:

The only knock I have against the game is that it has an absolutely horrid Dutch translation and there's no way to change the language, because it defines it by your geographic location.

You mean translated from English to Dutch or vise versa? Because it seems the only dialog in the game is "AGHHH" and "WHOOO"

Avatar image for csl316
Posted By csl316

That's a lot of stars!

Avatar image for deerokus
Posted By deerokus

This is my Game of the Year so far.

Avatar image for kollay
Posted By kollay

Love this game. Well deserved 5 stars.

Avatar image for lordloc
Posted By LordLOC

@ezdude said:

Ever since the first one of these came out, I wish they would come out on PS3 but since it's published by Microsoft Studios that's probably never happening. Oh well. I guess I'll get an Xbox, then...

Hey don't feel to bad, RedLynx was a multiplat company for a long time and the fact that Trials Evolution isn't coming to PC (for now anyways, until the XBLA exclusive time thingie runs out probably) makes me sad and stuff. I mean, they make (or made, don't know if they still are or not) iOS games, WiiWare games and have done some older PC games as well. So, meh. I don't really want to play Trials Evolution on my 360, but I did try the trial of the Trials Evolution, and I really really want the PC version to be announced now!

Avatar image for thehbk
Posted By TheHBK

Alex didn't review this? What a shock.

Avatar image for uberexplodey
Posted By UberExplodey

8/5

Avatar image for jvdgoot
Posted By jvdgoot

The only knock I have against the game is that it has an absolutely horrid Dutch translation and there's no way to change the language, because it defines it by your geographic location.

Avatar image for ezdude
Posted By ezdude

Ever since the first one of these came out, I wish they would come out on PS3 but since it's published by Microsoft Studios that's probably never happening. Oh well. I guess I'll get an Xbox, then...

Avatar image for apollobob
Posted By ApolloBob

Any game that drops a grand piano and a freight car on you in the very first tutorial level deserves attention.

Avatar image for immortalsaiyan
Posted By ImmortalSaiyan

I was not too big on Trials HD I wonder if I should get this or not.

Avatar image for napalm
Posted By Napalm

Here we go again. Brad, "Greatest Game Ever Made" Shoemaker.

Avatar image for alorithin
Posted By Alorithin

Not unexpected from brad, but not wholly undeserved.

I have some reservations with the Pro editor.

Avatar image for isbecome
Posted By isbecome

@Animasta said:

the last 5 reviews have been 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, so I knew this was going to happen :)

hahaha, I was thinking the same thing.

Avatar image for animasta
Posted By Animasta

the last 5 reviews have been 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, so I knew this was going to happen :)

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