by Matt Porter
previewed on X360
Usually when the word ‘Evolution’ is attached to a title it seems like it’s just a buzzword used to attract attention without actually having any meaning. RedLynx are looking to change that with Trials Evolution, the Finnish developer’s XBLA follow up to the award winning Trials HD, which sold well over two million units after its release in 2009.
For those unfamiliar with the series, the Trials games see you taking on the role of a trial motorcyclist, racing your way to the finish line over a number of increasingly ridiculous tracks littered with obstacles to jump over and avoid. The simplicity of the games are part of why they are so well loved, with the only controls being accelerate, brake and leaning backwards and forwards. Evolution brings forward the fantastic, if slightly exaggerated, physics system from Trials HD to complement the controls, with some slight improvements here and there. Where a fall from a great height would have meant a couple of broken bones and a trip back to the start line in previous games, you will be able to take a lot of that in your stride here, as RedLynx try to go even crazier with the level design.
Evolution is busting out of the warehouse for this release and into the wide open world, opening up endless possibilities for where you might be riding. One level sees you reenacting the Normandy beach landings as you motor your way over piles of sand and stone bunkers as shells explode around you. While on another track you might be driving across a dam while it’s opening, leaving you soaking as you power on through avoiding the drops into the icy water below. The game is really looking to push the boundaries on the locations it is including, and seems to be adding a little sense of humour to its design. It became a kind of a running joke in Trials HD that at the end of the level, the rider would always be thrown off his motorcycle in some comical way, and it seems as though Evolution will continue that in even better ways, with exploding barrels, huge drops or protruding spikes usually awaiting the player at the end of a run. The developer hasn’t stopped at just creating levels for motorcycles either. We’ve seen a character on skis, a first person shooter level and also what looks like a bizarre, larger than life sized pinball machine. Luckily for the player, to accompany all this, Trials Evolution features an absolutely gorgeous visual design, with some amazing particle effects on the explosions and really good use of lighting throughout the game.
You won’t be restricted to just playing what the developer wants you to either, as RedLynx will once again be including a hugely advanced level editor in the package. In fact the editor is so powerful, a lite version is also included in case the complexity of the main one becomes too much. Each editor features a massive 2km by 4km sandbox with environments ranging from mountains and dirt, to city streets and forests. To build your level, you have access to a mammoth playbox, with all sorts of ramps, obstacles and bits of scenery to choose from. Once created, you will be able to upload your level to the RedLynx servers, which will be continually updated with featured tracks and fan favourites. If RedLynx delivers on its promise to properly maintain this service, it could make it a step above most other user-created content services which tend to get bogged down with endless tripe.
The biggest evolution for the game though, is the inclusion of multiplayer, an announcement that will make a lot of fans squeal with glee. Up to four players can link up over the Internet or locally to race each level together. The experience is much the same, but with a heightened level of competitiveness and hilarity resulting. The winner is not necessarily who reaches the end of the level first, but is determined by your race time and number of faults incurred, so a combination of speed and precision is required to do well here. The game doesn’t want anyone left behind though, so if you fall behind far enough to be lost off screen, you will appear again at the next checkpoint with an extra fault incurred. A fantastic gameplay option that can be turned on before entering the game is entitled ‘Bail-out Finishes’. As the track is nearing an end, you unlock the ability to eject the rider and send him hurtling towards the finish line. Doing this correctly might earn you precious seconds which could mean the difference between defeat and victory, but the risk is that if you fail, you won’t be able to respawn, and as such won’t finish the race. This last gasp dash for glory adds yet more fun to a game which definitely feels as though it is all about giving the player a good time rather than necessarily focusing on realism.
Trials Evolution is set for release on the Xbox Live Arcade on April 18th. It definitely seems as though the game has evolved from previous titles, from the improved gameplay, to the focus on sheer fun and the addition of multiplayer. Who would have thought that one of the best games on XBLA could get even better? Rev your engines and get ready, because you are in for one hell of a bumpy ride.