Trials Evolution is a Motorcycle Freakout [Review]

By Rich Shivener in Reviews
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm
RedLynx Trials Evolution (8).jpg
RedLynx's XBLA Arcade game Trials Evolution gears up.

RedLynx's Trials Evolution has revved up a few memories I have of motorcycle video games. In the NES' heyday, I was overheating my Excitebike, with its awesome in-game editor, and when Sega came along, I was showing off my Road Rash, fighting cops and fellow racers on crotch rockets while enjoying a grungy, Soundgarden-laden soundtrack. Both, which I played for countless hours, resonate in the landscape of my gaming experience.

And I expect Trials Evolution will, too, if it holds up. It takes cues from motorcycle games of yesteryear and puts a unique spin on the genre. Yes, it's an evolution - perhaps even a revolution - that isn't running out of gas any time soon.
Once you've rolled through the credits and hard-ass rap song that open the game, you're presented with three options: Single Player, Multiplayer and Track Central, the latter serving as an outlet for player-created tracks. You can jump into any one of them, but I recommend starting with Single Player if you haven't played the predecessor Trials HD or any motorcycle game in a long while (the case for me). Single Player is, at its core, career mode, where you race against time and terrain for medals, money and sweet rides of the dirtbike variety. It's a great introduction to the physics-based gameplay of Trials.

Single Player mode features 60 trials, or tracks, that range from "Beginner" to "Extreme," separated by "License Tests" that try to prepare you for the wide variety of physics-warping "obstacles" within each trial. "Try" is key here - because you will notice how absurdly awesome, seemingly impossible and frustrating these "obstacles" truly are. Situated in places riders would dare to go, trials like "Beachhead" and "Oil Crisis" salute high-flying explosive war zones, whereas others like "Mind Bender" and "Archipelago" defy gravity and reality all together. I could talk about the surprises, hills and jumps of these trials for days, but I'll get to the point: They're amazing, graphics and all, reminding me of all those landscape obstacles (cows, cops and cars, yo!) that I faced in my Road Rash days. That said, my favorite trial is "Roller Coaster," which, at one point, presents an obstacle that slings you high across a body of water, affording you some serious hang time and flips. (If I were trying to tug on my editor's heartstrings, I'd say "Trials of Limbo," an homage to the eponymous game, was my fave.)

In the spirit of most racing games, you need medals and money to unlock new trials and bikes upgrades, respectively. Bronze medals and some money are given when you simply finish races, and silver and gold medals and big bucks come with faster racing times and fewer "faults," or crashes. Unfortunately, the game doesn't reward you for flips or tricks you complete in the trials. That said, I didn't have an incentive to flip my way through said trial; sometimes pumping gas was the best, albeit boring, tactic. The consolation? Single Player mode has a "Skill Game Circus," a series of mini-games that are also absurd. In one instance, you're flying a UFO, and in another you're riding a bike without brakes.

When you've run out of gas for those high-octane solo trials, try the multiplayer mode, which has echoes of the Excitebike series. Here you have Supercross, in which up to four players can race side by side for two races each with two heats. Supercross is a little more controlled and realistic, a nice respite from all the wackiness of Trials. Yet if you want more wackiness, you can have it with the mode's "Trials" option; in this case, you're racing against ghosts, or your online competitors, to the finish lines of three "Trials." To me, this didn't play like an online competition, but that could be because I had too many fumes in Single Player mode.

But if you really want tracks and skill games well beyond wackiness, then ditch both Single Player and Multiplayer modes for Track Central, an awesome echo of the original Excitebike and other games that encourage player-created content (think LittleBigPlanet). With so many creative tracks and games derived from the minds of the Trials community, it's likely to fuel hours of good, dirt-caked fun. Without a doubt, I depleted two hours just exploring some great and not-so-great creations, searching for masterpieces. Among the creations I sampled, "Angry Bikers" was a fun homage to that game where you sling birds into pigs. "Sky High" was a great trial; at one point, you're descending from the top of what seems like a 200-yard long slope that leads to a ramp. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Overall, RedLynx has packed so much fun into this Xbox Live Arcade game, I expect to write more about it in the months to come. That is to say that I'm excited to get more road rashes.

The Official Verdict: 4.5 out of 5

This review is based on an Xbox 360 copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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