Giant Bomb Review


Trials HD Review

  • XBGS

Physics and sadism combine to great effect in this motocross action game on Xbox Live Arcade.

 Don't worry, it gets way, way harder.
Trials HD has a fantastic concept that only a small minority of players will ever fully appreciate. It looks like an action game that revolves around a series of two-dimensional motocross obstacle courses, like Excitebike for the modern age. But when you get down to it, Trials is really an intensely technical physics puzzle that requires you to not just drive but feel every foot of each course to navigate all the hellishly tricky jumps and traps in each level. The game got a little too hard a little too quickly for my taste, but there's a lot of room for you to increase your skill here, and feel the reward that goes along with doing so.

Things you will need to enjoy Trials HD: an eye for detail; a good feel for two-wheeled driving mechanics; patience. A lot of patience. The game's levels are split into five difficulties, and by the time you get into the third one, you'll be spending most of your time inching along from one obstacle to the next, failing over and over until you figure out exactly how you need to pop up your front tire or exactly when you need to lean backwards just a bit to get the right momentum and angle to pass a given trick. Thankfully there's a checkpoint after every single trick, and you can restart at the touch of a button. Otherwise this game would be utterly unbearable.

The driving mechanics couldn't be much simpler. Accelerate with the right trigger, brake with the left, and lean forward and backward with the analog stick. The rest is up to gravity. You're going to be fighting gravity for much of the game, since so many of the later courses ask you to basically drive up sheer walls and perform other absurd feats of two-wheeled daring. As you make your way through a new course, you'll frequently pause and say "Really? You want me to do that?" But there's always a way to pull it off, even if you need to hit YouTube to figure out exactly what it is.

 Yeah, more like this.
Trials HD is sadistically, controller-throwingly hard, but it's the kind of hard you will continuously (if slowly) get better at as you practice. I just wish the difficulty curve were a little smoother over the course of the five tiers. The first two aren't much trouble and you'll breeze through them quickly, but there doesn't feel like much middle ground here. The game goes from manageable to crazy hard in the space of just a few races. It's very possible you will never finish the last two or three courses in the game; they're just that hard. I wish the developer had crammed in a larger number of moderately challenging levels in the middle somewhere.

Powering through the main challenge courses was my primary occupation in Trials HD, but there's a decent assortment of skill-based minigames in here too. You do things like ride inside a giant hamster ball or run a course while towing a wagon full of bombs behind you. Most of them center around how far you can make it before you meet some kind of unfortunate demise, which is always good for a laugh.

Some minigames pad out the extra content. 
Trials is especially fun if a lot of other people on your friends list have been playing it, since you can see their best times and how many times they crashed as they tried to finish a level. Leaderboards are nothing special, of course, but they're more effective here when you see that your friend racked up 300 failures as they tried to suffer through one of the meanest, hardest tracks. You can sort of feel their pain. It's also neat that you can see how fast one of your friends ran a given course relative to your own position in real time as you run it yourself. It's not quite as good as an actual ghost feature, but it's close.

You can make your own levels in Trials HD with a pretty easy-to-use, capable level editor if you want to extend the game's playability once you finish all the content that comes with the game (if you ever do). Though, perplexingly, you can only download levels from people on your friends list. That's a real shame, because I would have liked to see how inventive--and ludicrously hard--some of the top user-created levels might be. But there's no way to browse all of the ones that are out there.

More than likely, though, you'll get your money's worth out of what's already included in this package. Trials HD is geared toward a specific kind of game player, one who can put up with the repetition and attention to minute detail required to master its courses. If you're that sort of person, you'll find a lot of satisfying gameplay here. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
Posted by JJWeatherman

This seems kinda late. 4 stars though, maybe I'll try it eventually.

Posted by Creamypies

Great review Brad. I still ain't got Trials yet... kinda hoping it gets a price cut soon, because I do want it.

Posted by Scooper

A bit wierd this game's getting a review at this time weeks after it came out. On a side note, why are there hardly any reviews for random PSN games that come out.

Posted by mikeeegeee

this review get stuck between the couch cushions? no worries, great to see it

Posted by Creamypies
@Scooper: Because XBLA tends to get more high quality games.
Posted by DanielJW

We are getting spoiled with awesome reviews. ^_^ 

Posted by Scooper
@creamypies said:
" @Scooper: Because XBLA tends to get more high quality games. "
Why does a high quality game have more need to be reviewed then a low quality game. Isn't that what a review is for?
Posted by HawkSE
@mikeeegeee said:
" this review get stuck between the couch cushions? no worries, great to see it "
LOL my thoughts, just not in those words
Posted by spiceninja

Better late than never.

Posted by JeffGoldblum

I guess late is better than never...

Posted by Masamune

It's good to see this got a review. I fucking love the level editor in this game. I really wish I could share levels easier, since none of my xbox friends have this.

Posted by FunExplosions

I thought Jeff pretty much beat this by the time that Quick Look with Ryan was up. Oh well, nice review, though.

Posted by yindotrunks

Glad to see this review, hopefully it encourages more people to get a great game.

Posted by RHCPfan24

Yeah, this is a late review but nice to see nonetheless. I do know that Brad had been complaining about it lately via Twitter so he probably just got around to beating it.

Posted by Diamond

I love TrailsHD, I'd give it 5 stars.  Not that the game needs any boost in sales though, it's been dominating the XBLA sales charts for weeks.

Posted by ocdog45

i got to be honest, thats a pretty cool game. its liek the flash game on those flash gaming sites. hope it comes out on hte ps3.
Edited by MrMiyagi

This game is incredibly punishing. Really enjoyed it though.

Posted by GodzillaVsJapan

pretty late on this one but I hope it creates interest for those who might have missed it

Posted by zombie2011
@Scooper said:
" A bit wierd this game's getting a review at this time weeks after it came out. On a side note, why are there hardly any reviews for random PSN games that come out. "
This was part of summer of arcade so it was kinda a big deal, thats the only reason why it got reviewed.
Posted by LordAndrew

Unfortunately, I'm not that kind of person. Trials 2 Second Edition just drove me insane, and I don't want to go through that again.

Posted by Media_Master

I'd get it for PSN, but that's not gonna happen anytime soon...

Posted by NickM

Yay! Timely! (sorry, I'm really drunk)

Posted by Metiphis

I already bought this game based on the Quicklook.  Addictive fun.

Posted by Najaf

This game is amazing. The demo made me a believer. You get access to some of the smooth, fast running tracks and you can mess around with the amazing level editor. This is well worth the 15 dollars it asks. I can't wait for the DLC they already have stated is in the works.

Posted by MajorToms

The original Trials games were java based games released on There is a whole slew of them.

Posted by Dudacles

Great review, and I really want this game. I'll buy it at some point, definitely.

Posted by DelroyLindo

Completed all the extreme tracks last week. Hands down the best arcade game around. Its more than worth 1200 points for the amount of hours you get out of it

Posted by DelroyLindo
@Branthog: Seriously, this one controls and plays considerably differently to the pc version
Posted by Najaf
@Branthog: Let's be clear here: trials 2 is no trials HD. The physics are completely reworked in HD and are no longer the floaty moon physics of the older trials games. There is analog control which gives far better feedback. The overall game is nowhere near the frustration level of trials 2. While it is hard for sure, its simply a different game now.
Posted by bwooduhs

Glad it got a 4. I personally loved this game.

Posted by Spongetwan

I might have to try this game after I finish ODST.

Posted by Dereklstinson

"showing the bike your dominance" LOL

Posted by Spoonybard37

mad fun

Posted by RenegadeSaint

Just got around to buying this and it is amazing. Can't wait to get my mitts on Trials Evolution.