There is help to be had from an unexpected source – your fellow players. Look at the leaderboard for the current course and you’ll see a Play button next to every name. One click on it and you’ll almost instantly see a replay of their run, complete with an overlay of the buttons being pressed. This might not be a shortcut to the god-like skills shown by the lading Trials 2 riders, but you’re guaranteed to pick up a few hints as to how to crack any brick walls you find yourself banging your head against.
Now, at this point you might be expecting me to excuse the common fault of the low-budget indie game – low budget, indie presentation. However, the team at RedLynx has a commercial background and this is actually a surprisingly slick game. The action may be 2D, but the game is rendered using a proper 3D engine. To see it at its best, just check out the replays and watch your best moves (and worst disasters) from a variety of cool camera angles.
While the graphics stick close to an industrial theme and the courses are made up of a fairly limited selection of building blocks, the modelling and animation of the bike and rider are excellent and the game makes effective use of bump-mapped textures and sparse lighting. The audio effects might be slightly muted – we’d like to hear a few more gruesome snaps and squeals of pain when your rider bites the dust once again – but the OTT rock soundtrack fits the overall style perfectly. It might not do a whole lot, but what Trials 2 does do, it does well.
Were this a full priced game I’m not sure I’d be collaring everyone I know to try Trials 2, but given the sub-£10 download price it’s an absolute steal. It’s the sort of game that flourishes when you can get your mate’s playing it, and while that makes the lack of a Friends list and corresponding filtered leaderboard disappointing, you can at least get together in a team and combine your efforts. It’s not a game for the easily stressed, the easily downhearted or the impatient, and you can’t help wishing for a slightly more generous learning curve, but once you’ve been bitten by the Trials 2 bug, you’ll find it very hard to leave the thing alone.
A simple but hideously effective time waster, Trials 2 can be maddeningly frustrating, but the engaging gameplay and smart online integration make it every bit as addictive.