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Trials Evolution (Xbox 360) artwork

Trials Evolution (Xbox 360) review

"Well, I'm going to have to find a way to perfectly run tracks that utterly brutalized my biker during my first stab at them. Hell, I'll be happy if I just FINISH the Gigatrack course. Just thinking about running it perfectly seems so unrealistic that I don't even know why I'm considering it a possibility."

I'm not that great at Trials Evolution -- at least not yet. This saddens me. I'm missing out on a lot due to my inability to clear B-license level courses without faulting a dozen or three times. And that really long track with very few checkpoints that's right before the A-license…yeah, right. I'll be happy if I can just complete that sucker, let alone do it flawlessly or something crazy like that!

But I'll keep trying. Hell, I can't stop trying. If I wasn't sitting in front of a computer typing this review, I'd be working on it at this moment. While you're reading this, odds are that I'm desperately attempting to keep my bike upright, knowing that a catastrophe is inevitable. This game will do that to you. It'll make you try tracks over and over and over again, looking to make it the distance without crashing. To accomplish those jumps just a bit more smoothly to lower your time. You'll mutter (or scream) obscenities at your TV, you'll drop the controller and storm into another room to cool off, you'll swear you've had enough and it's time to play something else. And then you'll try again.

RedLynx gets it. They turned a simple, fun experience into something amazing. When I started playing this game, I was prepared to be disappointed. In its multitude of courses, all you do is press buttons to hit the gas or brakes, while moving the control stick to the left and right, so your biker leans in one direction or another. The best comparison to the courses I could come up with were the tougher license tests in the Gran Turismo games -- we're talking the ones where you'd have to do a large chunk of a lap (if not the entire thing) very quickly without leaving the road. Those things could become lessons in masochism, as you'd have to be near-perfect with no real room for error for 90 seconds, two minutes, more. Expecting something like that, I was fully prepared to come away with an impression along the lines of "It's good…if that's your sort of thing…"

Trials Evolution asset

Five hours later, when I turned off my 360, it was obvious that I couldn't take a dismissive tone towards Trials Evolution. I'd done a number of the single player campaign's tracks (of which there are 60 or so) and fiddled around with some of the online options and loved every minute of it. But, like I said, this is a simple game, so I figured that after doing the same stuff over and over again, I'd come to the conclusion that this is a fun game without much of a shelf life.

And now, here I am, hooked on Trials Evolution like you wouldn't believe. I might not be that good at it, but I'm determined to get better. There's just too much stuff to enjoy here. Too much stuff I haven't unlocked or am not skilled enough to get through. If I don't see everything, at least it won't be from lack of trying.

You see, the thing is that simply finishing courses isn't enough if you want to reach the really tough ones -- you have to be good at them. You unlock higher levels of tracks by earning a certain number of medals. Just finishing a course gives you a bronze, which counts as one. To get silver (two) and gold (three) medals, though, you have to avoid crashing your bike, while completing the course in a certain time. With a number of tracks, you just have a bunch of simple jumps where the main challenge will be nailing the landings so you're not off-balance when it's time for the next leap. Later on, things get much more complex, as you'll have to navigate steep inclines, loops and very complex arrangements of jumps and obstacles.

Trials Evolution asset

By the time you've gotten a few series into the game, you'll need to start getting a bunch of silvers and probably a few golds if you want to continue unlocking courses. Right now, I need 75 medals to unlock the next group of tracks and then I'll need 100 to get the final set. The first of those numbers seems reachable, as there are plenty of tracks I can see me improving to gold-level without much difficulty. The latter? Well, I'm going to have to find a way to perfectly run tracks that utterly brutalized my biker during my first stab at them. Hell, I'll be happy if I just FINISH the Gigatrack course. Just thinking about running it perfectly seems so unrealistic that I don't even know why I'm considering it a possibility.

At least there are other ways to get medals. As you progress through the game, you unlock a number of skills courses which range from biking courses with handicaps like not being able to brake to tasks like landing a U.F.O. on a number of platforms or rolling a ball along a narrow path. Some are fun, some are blah, all can help me bolster my medal collection. As you unlock more courses, you also unlock tournaments, which are collections of multiple tracks that must be done in sequence. Yeah, getting good medals here will be rough. If I struggle to complete courses with no faults, I'm sure I'll have nooo trouble doing four or six in a row without mistakes.

But whenever I get bummed out by my lack of success, I have plenty of diversions to mess around with. Trials Evolution boasts quite the robust online experience thanks to a track editor that gives players access to all the tools used to make the game. There's already a ton of fun tracks to download. In the span of a few hours, I rode on courses inspired by classic games like Super Mario Brothers and Castlevania; while also getting addicted to a neat take on Skeeball. And I also found a good number of beginner- and easy-level fan-made tracks to practice my skills. That's probably the neatest thing about this game's online stuff -- I could see me easily getting frustrated by a bad night or two and putting this game up if I only had the single-player tracks to constantly ride over and over again in an attempt to get the gold. Instead, I can simply switch over to the online tracks and play a few I'd never seen before to get my head back into things. Yeah…I can't see me putting this one down for a long time. As long as people remain interested in the community, there will be a near-unlimited number of tracks for me to choose from. Like I said, I want to get better at this game. There's so many user-made tracks I'd like to try, but know their "hard" and "extreme" labels mean I'd just be in for an episode of emasculation at this point in time.

The best part of all this is the price, though. Trials Evolution is a Live Arcade release, so it only costs $15. This might make it the single-best value I've ever experienced. There's a long single-player campaign that will take a lot of work for most anyone to get through, let alone master. Add that to multiplayer options (something I haven't even delved into) and all the online levels and there might be an infinite amount of play value here. At least it feels like it when I'm scrolling through online tracks and constantly seeing new ones pop up whenever I go back to the menu after playing one.

Now I just need to get a little bit better…

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (May 02, 2012)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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bbbmoney posted May 02, 2012:

Now, I never played the previous game, so I'm having trouble coming up with imagery from your review. I think that's fine, but I was just curious on how you typically approach sequels? Assume the reader has prior experience and go from there? I don't bring this up because I have a problem with the review, I'm just trying to learn how to approach reviewing sequels as well, and how many basic descriptors I can afford to leave out of the writing.

Anyways, I like how the review almost specifically covers the pull of the game and how it's addicting. Actual looked up some videos of the game and I'm legitimately interested in picking it up, so nicely done.

One thing I'll mention is from your pull quote:

"Well, I'm going to have to find a way to perfectly run tracks that sent my biker flying into space and landing in a crumpled heap dozens of times."

My mind had a hard time following that sentence, lol.
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overdrive posted May 03, 2012:

Thanks for the comments, HTP. I added a couple assets to the review to help a bit and added a couple sentences describing the kinds of stuff on courses. And did some work with that sentence that you mentioned.

For me, when it comes to sequels, I don't tend to focus on the nuts-and-bolts as much. Part of that goes back to the old GameFaqs days when I did all six NES Mega Man games in about a year or so, as it just seemed stupid and repetitive to mention the basics for each game.

Here, there's a bit of a different reason added to it. When it comes to things like "physics-based" engines, I'm so damn stupid that if I tried to really describe things, I'd come off with a bloated review. So I thought it might work better to describe my feelings and emotions as I was playing it rather than a more by-the-books style of doing it.

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