Hurts so good...
Of all the various flash games one could play whilst wasting their time away on the internet, one would likely say that few (if any) warranted a full-fledged game, let alone one that would cost 15 dollars. However, Trials HD successfully melds the fun and addiction of similar flash games with depth and replayability that not only justifies its price, but results in an immensely enjoyable product overall.
Trials HD is, at it's core, a series of increasingly difficult dirt bike obstacle courses. Locked on a 2-D plain, players must use the physics of their motorcycle combined with gas and brake to traverse jumps, hills, loops, and any other manner of ridiculous obstacles in an attempt to finish the course with a respectable time and with as few faults (read: crashes) as possible. This seemingly simplistic task snowballs into obsessively addicting sessions and a push to finish just one more course or attempt to get that next medal. The later courses get bogged down in a level of difficulty that hinges on the diabolical, but no course is unbeatable, even if the more difficult tracks don't have the same level of replayability and fun factor as the earlier ones. The gameplay in Trials is the picture of "less is more", keeping its pick-up and play style throughout, with complexity coming through its course designs and constant push for better scores.
There are only a few real "modes" in Trials HD, but each one provides a plethora of content. There are five different difficulties of courses, each providing a brace of tracks to take down in hopes of getting the best possible score. Finishing these tracks will unlock more for you to test your mettle against, and doing well will net you different bikes to try out. There is also a "Tournament" mode in which you are put in a series of consecutive tracks in hopes of getting the best cumulative score possible. On top of the standard tracks, there are also a pack of "skill games" that test your ability to do such diverse tasks as hauling a pair of volatile bombs across a bumpy course to seeing how far you can launch your poor rider down a ski jump course. These help break up the savage and grueling courses with some genuinely fun distractions, and like all the modes, you and your friends' respective times are prominently posted at the forefront, giving you drive to improve your score and stay ahead of the pack. There is also a complex track editor which, although somewhat indecipherable to myself, could prove to extend your Trials experience. It is a shame, though, that you can only share and DL created tracks with your friends.
The presentation front in Trials HD is fantastic, especially for a downloadable game. The lighting and explosion effects are great, textures look nice, and tracks are impossibly designed. The sound design is nice, with various materials crunching and crashing the way they should and the bikes all having distinct tambors to their engine. A sore spot comes in the choice of "voice talent", with developer Red Lynx deciding it would be erm... good to use Rake Yohn and Brandon Dicamillo from Viva La Bam and Jackass fame to voice your rider. It isn't anything too distracting, and if you're a fan of these fellows, you might even get a kick out of hearing them as part of a new project. However, for everyone else, they may come off as a bit obnoxious.
Trials HD is a game that is difficult to do justice with text. On its surface, it amounts to no more than a flash game being charged at premium download price. If you get your hands on the trial-version, however, you'll soon find yourself enthralled by the addicting nature, and the full-version reveals enough content to keep you coming back for more. The difficulty can be so brutal that it hurts sometimes, but there's no denying that Trials HD never fails to satisfy.