For many gamers, the Trials franchise represents a great divide. For some, it provides a competitive and challenging way to simultaneously crush courses and your friends while for others it’s a sea of broken controllers. While the latest game in the franchise, Trials Evolution, won’t do anything to alter already established, it does represent the best game Redlynx has put out to date. It also doesn’t change the fact that the game is damn fun.
Full review waits for you after the jump…
Lets get this out of the way first: The core mechanic is the same as it’s always been. You’re still a dude on a dirt bike trying to set a fast time on increasingly difficult courses. You can still dictate the speed of the bike and the angle it takes by leaning the rider forward and back. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Right off the bat, the campaign has been fleshed out from Trials HD. The tournaments and skill games are back but now things have been sorted into a career path for you. You start off by running a training course to earn a specific class of license which opens up the next area of tracks. These moments also serve as a great training zone for what you can expect to find in the coming events. The tracks are arranged based on difficulty starting from the beginner levels all the way to the extreme. The more medals you earn means you’ll be unlocking more content faster and faster. In addition to medals, players will earn cash to spend on cosmetic changes to their bike and rider. While it won’t change anything to the bike like how it handles or its speed, being able to deck out your bike or rider how you want is a nice touch and gives you a sense of attachment to your rider. Though, that probably won’t stop you from laughing when you see his ragdoll smash against things after a big fall.
Make no mistake, this is a Trials game which means you can expect to be tested. A walk in the park this is not and that may turn off many gamers. The funny thing is, the game sort of lulls you into a false sense of security at the beginning of the game. I’ve played a lot of Trials HD and I really don’t think the first part of that game is anywhere as easy as Evolution begins. It makes you feel real good seeing the gold medals and perfect runs start to pile up. When your guard is down, the medium tracks begin to roll in and those golds begin turning into silvers and then bronzes. Those perfect runs begin to vanish, replaced by multiple restarts and checkpoint reloads. It’s at this point when you see the classic Trials gameplay begin to rear its head. It’s certainly not impossible, but it may start to frustrate people due to the steep difficulty curve at the back half of the game.
The biggest change you’ll notice is the diversity of colors and levels. We’re no longer confined to a dingy warehouse full of deviously made courses and hazards. Those hazards have moved outside and in a wide variety of locations. Right away, this changes the game drastically for the better. You’ll be racing on all kinds of diverse levels including forests, fields, warehouses, lakeside, industrial parks, and more exotic locations like a nuclear power plant or even a Stonehenge like level. What I loved about the selection though is RedLynx playing with familiar environments either from real life or other games. For example, you’ll race through Normandy Beach during the invasion in World War II, run through a level devoted to the XboX Live Arcade title Limbo, and even take a joy ride through a level I think was inspired by The Hills Have Eyes. You can really tell that RedLynx had a blast putting these courses together.
Redlynx really out did themselves with the track editor this time around. It’s insanely powerful and if you get really good with it, you can make just about any type of game you want whether it’s a first person shooter or whatnot. I really haven’t put a ton of time into it but what I have seen is pretty daunting. It’s not something you can just jump into and expect to be good at right away but if you can get through the steep learning curve, you’ll find a masterful addition and a tool that’ll keep you playing for quite a while. Thankfully, to alleviate some of the difficulty, there is a light version of the editor as well. What you sacrifice in power, you make up for in usability.
Better yet, you can now share custom tracks online with the community, race on them with friends, and download other tracks that people have posted. There are filters available as well to help you sort through to find the good stuff.
Probably the biggest addition is the addition of local and online multiplayer. Finally, gamers can race up to 3 other people through a set of courses of your choosing. The multiplayer is similar to a game like Mario Kart, where you play through a set of courses gaining points for where you finish. The game will also deduct points for crashes. At the end of the set, the person with the highest point total wins….obviously. So far, I haven’t had any issues connecting or playing online. The game runs real smooth and is a ton of fun. While I had a good time racing against random people, the real fun is playing locally with friends. I can’t tell you the amount of yelling, laughing, and jumping around that’s done while racing with people you know, especially when it’s a tight race. There’s nothing like taking first by just a tire length, or seeing someone crash right before the finish line as you soar past them for the win.
Outside of the challenging difficulty (which you should already be expecting since this is a Trials game) the only real issue I had with the game was the music. It’s decent enough, but overall, it leaves something to be desired. The track selection is extremely limited and you’ll be hearing them repeating quite a bit. What’s really surprising here is that a big deal was made over the fact that Redlynx signed on Mike Reagan to handle the music. You may know him from another small franchise called God of War. I guess with that kind of background I expected something more. It’s pretty simplistic stuff which is disappointing.
Trails Evolution is easily the best game in the series and has a staggering amount of options to pick from. While the core mechanics remain the same, including the brutal difficulty, Evo is still very highly recommended for it’s fun gameplay, tight controls, and sheer amount of things you’re given to do. Redlynx has another hit on their hands and if this is how they up the ante, I can’t wait to see what they have up next for us.
Trials Evolution gets 5 broken controllers, out of 5