In effect, then, what at first looks like a weird 2D racer turns out to be a cool hybrid of platform game, puzzle game and entertaining physics simulation. Of all the games I’ve played recently the one it reminds me of most is N+, for the simple reason that both games are all about working your way around a small set of controls and interacting physical forces in order to get from A to B.
Both games demand some skilful use of the controls – you need to develop a feel for all that jumping, flipping and landing – but both games also demand brainpower. If you can’t make it up that series of ascending ramps or down that bewildering set of downward quarter-pipes, then it’s probably because you haven’t yet found the right approach. Sometimes you’ll spend ages working out what on earth that approach might be, crashing bike and rider again and again and again, but when you finally get it right – Eureka!
Trials 2 is certainly addictive. On the one hand, it’s almost impossible to stop chewing away at a level once you’ve started, no matter how many times you fail. Once you have it worked out, you’ll then be sorely tempted to give it another go, partly because the game is closely integrated with its online leaderboards, meaning you can see exactly how miserable your efforts are in comparison to those of other players.
Time counts, but the number of faults (e.g. crashes) also affects your score, so you’ll really want to get as clear a run as possible. In a game where faults can easily run into double – hey, who’s kidding? Triple – figures, that’s not always easy. If you’re a perfectionist, this might not be the best game for you to get involved with. Goodbye, wasted hours.
In fact, Trials 2 makes you feel like a sadist and a masochist at the same time. I say sadist, because a lot of the pleasure is in watching your pitiful rider smashed, crunched and ground against every surface going – and the game cheerfully keeps a track of his fragile state and the number of broken bones. I say masochist, because Trials 2 can be an absolutely pitiless game.
Despite a scattering of tutorial sessions at the beginning, it’s not long before the game gets mildly tricky, and not long after that before the level designers start to throw in some very cruel tricks indeed. Even given a generous scattering of checkpoints on each level, you will be frustrated. You will grind your teeth and swear. You will start giving your keyboard threatening looks. And then you’ll go back and do the same damn bit again and again and again until you get it right, or until the veins in your temples explode. Basically, whichever comes first.