Trials Evolution represents the first release of Microsoft's latest Xbox Live Arcade promotion, "Arcade NEXT." In case you’ve never heard of the title (or the Trials series), the game is a motorbike puzzle racer mash-up. Players get hooked up with a dirt bike and their goal is to traverse a wide array of off-road courses filled with ramps, trees, hills, and a million other random obstacles. As you progress through the game, the courses get more challenging, the obstacles become more vertical, and the danger exponential.
All of this sounds pretty cool, right? For the most part, the ideas behind Trials Evolution are very cool. It’s a nice evolution on Excitebike and various other dirt bike games that time has forgotten. The structure of the game is smart, there’s a ton of customization and variation to be had. And, new this time around, is a nice dose of multiplayer madness to keep friends (and strangers) entertained. While the bells & whistles are all in place, I have some major issues with the core gameplay of Trials Evolution.
Before I jump into my thoughts on the gameplay itself, I want you to consider one thing: if you are a fan of Trials HD and the previous iterations of Trials, you can probably skip ahead. For fans of the series, the physics engine seems to be the same one utilized in prior games. If you’re a fan you’re probably thrilled at the consistency in gameplay. That’s not how I feel, but I don’t hold it against you.
For me, someone who only dabbled in Trials HD, the gameplay in Trials Evolution is the opposite of enjoyable. Dealing with a bike that bounces up and down more than a superball is not my idea of a good time. Instead, my brain was constantly questioning my sanity for keeping this game on. Don’t I have better things to do than figure out why my rear wheel couldn’t manage its way onto a steel beam?
At the core of my problems was the overly realistic physics involved here. While I understand the challenge of playing a game with true-to-life physics, that’s not something I personally enjoy. In fact, I wish this game had a reality meter that I could adjust to my personal liking. Kind of like a difficulty setting, this hypothetical meter would make the game still hard as nails for the hardcore while still inviting for those of us looking for short bursts of fun.
In addition to my dislike of the physics at play here, I loathed the music of this game. It was corny, dated, and didn’t increase my patience with traversing the various stages involved. Maybe I’m just not into the same kinds of music as the Finns responsible for developing this game. A lot can be said about how an awesome soundtrack (check the Tony Hawk series) can make frustrating gameplay more bearable.
On the plus size, I enjoyed the game’s graphics. The levels feel much bigger than in Trials HD, the 2.5 dimensions seem very well thought out, and I enjoyed the extensive detail in customizing my driver. Plus, Trials Evolution provides a kickass level editor that takes the game beyond just single-player puzzle solving. I’d compare the level editor within this game with that seen in the first LittleBigPlanet. There’s a ton to be made, played, and done with this editor.
In the end, I just didn’t have as much fun with Trials Evolution as I would have hoped. The spent a lot of time making the levels challenging and the physics a threat but not enough time was spent building up the joy of playing. Ultimately, if you’re already a fan of Trials HD, Evolution is an advance on the last game. If you’re not a fan, I recommend you try the demo before diving in with your hard earned $15.
CraveOnline received 1 advanced copy of Trials Evolution for the Xbox 360 from Ubisoft. We received the code on April 17, 2012. Before starting our review, we played every game mode available and completed 60% of the main storyline.