I keep on thinking of ways to intelligently open this review. I keep going over again and again what I can say to get my feelings over about this game. Only one thing out of all honestly comes to mind…
FUCK YOU Trials Evolution. Fuck you up the tailpipe! If there’s ever a game that makes me equally despise it but love it at the same time then it’s this game. It at times makes me hate myself. Why? Because the premise of this game is so simple yet stupid stuff prevents you from succeeding questioning your ability to finish the course, even though you have blatantly finished the course already. Unfortunately a well placed brain fart makes you lose your concentration, making you do the silliest of mistakes. For those that haven’t played Trails before it is a very simple concept. Get your dirt bike to the end of the track in the fastest time possible whilst making a minimum number of mistakes. As you progress the events start getting harder and harder. Whilst simply believing you can overcome anything that this game throws at you, it throws something even bigger in your face and makes you hate it even more. With Trials Evolution, as you progress to each tier of difficulty you have to gain your license to allow you to continue through the single player mode. These license tests are a very cool way of walking you through the skills that are required of you to get through the game, and seem like a very natural way of introducing newcomers or even the veteran players of Trails as to the best way of performing the moves needed and general advice to see you through. This in no part means that this game is holding your hand through the game, oh no, in fact this game is like an ass hole bird that will push you out of the nest expecting you to learn how to fly just as the cracks in the eggs start to form. This game hates you and it lets you know really early on. Challenge Accepted!
The game itself is really easy to play with only two buttons required to play it. The acceleration and the brake are assigned to the shoulder buttons and that’s it. The tricky part is the angle that you land your jumps. To angle the jumps correctly you have to accurately manoeuvre your rider to allow him to land safely. If you’re one pixel off the jump it throws you to shit, making you crash over, and over AND OVER!!! I HATE IT!!! Sorry. Later stages will require you to face seemingly impossible situations that with the correct adjustment barely possible. Seriously in one stage you’re forced to angle your bike at a perfect 90 degree angle. You’re forced to drive up a wall! It’s crazy the sort of things you have to face in the later levels. My white whale comes in the form of Gigatrack an unholy demon of a track. Even though the stages previous to this track are roughly about 2-3 minutes long this one takes about 10 minutes to do. The first time you play the track you think it’s going to end any time now, and it keeps going, and going, and going, AND GOING! With Trials Evolution the replay ability factor you’re bound to go back to some of the previous stages and perfect them. You are awarded medals based on completion time and number of crashes during the stage. The best medal is the elusive platinum medal. If you can achieve a gold medal than don’t beat yourself, because gaining a platinum is one hell of a challenge. Speaking of challenges, on top of the stages on offer (which there is already a plentiful amount of) you can now create your own, and download other user created tracks. It lets the community rate the tracks and every day new tracks are added, giving you a lot of variety and a lot of fresh new content. Another one of the new features to Trials Evolution is the Multiplayer mode. In multiplayer you can either race on the same track together or do one of the stages from the main game, whilst racing against the ghosts of other players. Points are awarded for your placement in the rankings. When someone makes it to the end of the stage a countdown begins meaning that if you aren’t able to make it to the end by the time allotted than you simply get a ‘did not finish’ (DNF)
The environments are complete 180 degree turns than what came before in Trails HD. In the first game you just went through warehouse to warehouse, but in Trails Evolution you’re treated to everything from the bog standard warehouse to a lot of outdoor areas to a warzone. Also as with the original Trails game as you get to the end of the flag you don’t simply stop, or even meet rapturous applause, you simply run into a wall or run into explosive barrels, even at times driving headfirst into some conveniently placed plate glass. In Trails Evolution however something as crazy as the endings have been ramped up and now include anything from a mortar strike in the middle of a war zone, to you simply driving head first off a cliff, adding an equal amount of silliness that you’d come to expect from a game like this.
Another thing about this game that you’re able to do is customize your rider and your bike. As you get more medals and complete tracks you earn more money to buy equipment for your bike or rider. I decided to create a dirt bike light cycle from Tron with a rider to match…awesome stuff.
This game doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s one of the great things about Trials Evolution. It can make you frustrated and annoyed at it, but it has this silly overt quality to it, that makes you realize that you’re playing something that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. You’ll get to a point where you’ll want to throw a controller with anger because you couldn’t simply jump over the silliest of obstacles, or to points where you just rage quit and go back onto the XBLA dashboard only to load it back up and try again. It’s that replay factor that keeps you going back. You want to beat yourself, or just prove to yourself that you are capable of beating this game. The game gently eases you into it, much more than its predecessor did which helps in a lot of ways. Like I said before this game doesn’t bother to do any form of hand holding, but it give you the necessary skill set to get where you need to be. You can progress only as far as your own skills will get you, and while that seems like an obvious statement this is one of those games that make you realize that more than any other.
For an XBLA title there is a lot of value. It’s 1200 microsoft points which is roughly about 9-10 pounds and is worth every penny. From the robust single player mode, challenges, tournaments, multiplayer, adding the user created content on top of all that like a cherry on a cake Trials Evolution is a spectacular game. Yes you’ll get frustrated but that’s all part of the enjoyment. You’ll want to be awesome and be able to do a perfect run of a particular track and the fun you’ll have doing so plus the replay factor of this game shows how addictive and enjoyable Trials Evolution really is. This is probably one of the best XBLA games to come around since the original Trails HD.