Along with ‘revolution’, ‘evolution’ is one of the most misused in video games. Too often it means “We’ve taken our franchise and given it a minor twist” or “Here’s the same game again with x new features and better graphics.” With Trials Evolution, however, it’s perfectly fitting. It’s a new Trials, a better-looking Trials, and a Trials with a mass of new features, but within you can still see the original, fiendishly addictive DNA of Trials 2 and Trials HD.
A Trial of Skill and Nerve
One strength of Trials has always been its simplicity: here’s a track with a beginning and an end, get a motorbike from one to the other as quickly as possible. The only thing standing in your way is a gauntlet of slopes, ramps, overhanging beams and gaps, and the knowledge that any misstep or accident will mean a restart at the last checkpoint, and seconds added to that all-important time.
The other strength of Trials is control. On one level, all you have to worry about is the throttle, your brakes, and the forwards/backwards posture of your rider. On another level, that’s more to worry about than you might think.
Get your posture wrong as you climb an incline or fall onto a downward slope, and your rider is toast. Accelerate too sharply as you accelerate up a slope, and the bike pulls off the front wheel and tumbles backwards. Trials isn’t so much a stunt-race game as a constant test of balance. Can you keep the bike upright and manage your speed as you hurtle and leap along the track, or will you come a-cropper over some seemingly minor obstacle? Do you have the skill and the finesse to succeed?
A Smoother Learning Curve
And here we come to the first step of that evolution. In the past Trials could be daunting for those lacking experience or commitment. Even early levels could be brutally difficult, core skills were barely explained, and the only real help you could rely on came in the form of ghost bikes for other riders, which allowed you to observe how they completed the tricky parts of the level.
Now Trials has itself found a balance, welcoming newcomers with license tests that actively educate the player, and a far more forgiving difficulty curve. You can play Trials for a good hour or so before you hit any major wall whatsoever, emloying the progression as simple, semi-realistic tracks give way to nightmare concoctions of rollercoaster slopes and loops, collapsing bridges and pivoting girders.
Of course, being Trials this generosity only goes so far. Each level has three medals available – bronze, silver and gold - and to access the later parts of the game you’ll need to collect quite a number. You can unlock the second tier of levels just by completing each track for bronze, but to get the second tier you’ll need to start getting silvers, and even golds, and suddenly Trials Evolution is not so easy. By the time you’re trying to unlock the third tier you’ll be working up a bit of a sweat, and even experienced Trials players will be struggling to complete and unlock the later Extreme stages.