Trials Evolution Review: The Definition of Insanity

Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  According to that, playing Trials Evolution makes you insane. And insanity is awesome.

The first Trials on XBLA kind of came out of no where.  Microsoft had it in it’s second annual Summer of Arcade promotion, so people checked it out.  The game became extremely popular due to the fun physics engine and leaderboard support.  People came to love this “out of nowhere” title and when RedLynx announced they were working on a follow-up, people listened.

So what is Trials?  Well, this paragraph is for the three people who have yet to play one of there games (Trials HD has sold over 2 millions and Evolution is now XBLA number one grossing day-1 sales game).  You play as a guy on a motorcycle who is trying not to kill himself.  Not enough?  Well, it’s pretty basic.  There’s a throttle button, a brake button, the right stick controls the pitch of the bike, and the B button sends you back to the last checkpoint adding a fault to you score.  Sounds simple, right?  Well sort of.  The control scheme is simple enough, but the greatest challenge in Trials involves you getting the fastest time with the least amount of faults.

Trials Evolution plays the same as the first one.  If you were good then, you’ll be good here.  If you sucked then, well it’s best to try to remain patient.  After the god awful intro music (probably the weakest point of the game), you are thrown a few choices.  First, you’ll probably wantto check out the single player. Here, the game gives you many options, with most being locked at first. First, you will be introduced to the controls a basic mechanics with a required license test.  After completing the test, you get to play on the beginner tracks.  This is where Trials leads you into a false sense of security.

“Oh gee whiz, I’m really good at this here Trials Evolution game,” you say to yourself.  Probably achieving gold medals at this point will be no problem.  The next set is easy tracks.  “Gosh darnit, this game ain’t tough at all,” still in your false mentality.  After, working through more tracks (medium and hard) and license tests (to train you on the trickier situations) you’ll get to the extreme tracks.  “What in tarnation is going on here!?” you say finally realizing that you’re Yosemite Sam.

The Hard tracks are where normal people will quit.  But with some patience, you can beat them.  The jumps are bigger, there are more bumps, and you have to be much more precise with the pitch of the bike.  If you manage to get to the extreme tracks, you’ll be in a kind of endurance test.  From checkpoint to checkpoint on some of these tracks, you’ll be pressing the fault button many times.  Some sequences you’ll press it over 100 times easy.  I’ve tried some of these tracks doing the same thing over and over again, only slightly tweeking my speed or pitch to get over one section.  I’ve actually reached the fault limit once (protip: 500 faults allowed or 30 minutes per track).

So, at this point you may think you’ve reached a barrier.  No longer wanting to play because you just can’t advance.  But that would be wildly in accurate.  You still have more things to do.  You can check out the Skill Circus.  These are sort of mini games using the in-game physics.  You can fly a UFO, roll a marble in a 3D plain, or even play a game that is awfully familiar to Twisted Pixels’ ‘Splosion Man. Sure, these are more diversions then anything, but it’s just more to do.  You can also give a try at some of the single player tournaments.  These are a set of tracks that you play to get the highest score with the least amount of faults.  A bit trickier as the time and faults are carried from one track to the next.  And with the exception of the first track in the tournament, you can’t restart to make that perfect run.

The leaderboard support does something special in Trials Evolution.  Sure you can check out all your rankings like most other games with your friends, but in Trials Evolution, the friends leaderboard is used in the game in real time.  Any track that you play will show how all you’re friends did.  If you played the stage already, it’ll slap you right there with them.  In the race however, They are all represented by dots with they’re gamertag over it.  This shows you how much further ahead they are behind you in real time.  Feel like they have just too much of a lead on you, just hit the Back button and start over.  Now, all these names can be a little distracting.  When you’re trying to land perfectly, all those names can get in the way at times.  I trained myself to see through them but it may not be easy for everyone to get over.

All that is just the single player.  There is still so much more.  You can play in matches online where you can see the other persons ghost characters.  Also, they added in “SuperCross” events.  These events show up to four racers in their own identical lane in a race to the finish line.  The online is fun with friends but noticed some decent lag at times.  People would drop out in the middle of a tournament which can be pretty frustrating, especially if you are having that perfect run.

So you’ve beat all the tracks, minigames, tournaments, and dominated multiplayer.  What more is there to do?  Well play all the user generated tracks.  While not all of them are amazing, there is a good selection already available.  I’ve seen some pretty interesting tracks as well including a track inspired by Super Meat Boy.  And while the tracks are the bread and butter of the game, you can also download the other minigames like foosball, a first-person shooter, and a top-down shooter.  The options are seemingly endless.  I’m actually looking forward to the obvious Super Mario Bros. World 1-1 inspired level.  All the user contact comes with leaderboard support so you can still compete with your friends online or in single-player.  The downloads are instant too.  All you have to do is click on “download” and it’s ready to play.  And if a friend you are online with has a track you don’t, it’ll instantly download for you seamlessly.

Trials Evolution is simply amazing.  You’ll go insane in later levels but somehow, it seems worth it.  If you can look past the distracting dots racing you (which again, is still great but distracting) and maybe find some different music to play, this game would be almost perfect.  Everyone should give it a shot and the masochists out there will be in for the long haul.