Years ago when I was in middle school there was a freeware game that everyone was playing called X-Moto. After watching a few friends play I downloaded it myself and immediately was sucked in. In class, every chance I could get I was playing it, and soon we had competitions to see who could beat it the quickest or with the least restarts. X-Moto faded as all fads do, but the memory of that game remained in the back of my mind.
Trials Evolution brings those memories back…and a little rage too. Trials Evo has 3D graphics but presents them in a sidescroller fashion; you can accelerate and reverse and change the pitch of your bike, but you don’t need to worry about steering. Singleplayer brings a lot to the table. You can go through tracks one by one, unlocking more difficult tracks after achieving a certain number of medals in the traditional bronze, silver, gold rating system. Tournaments usually have four tracks each that need to be finished in a time limit or with a limited number of faults. Skill Games consist of fun and random activities that really have nothing to do with motocross. For that reason, Skill Games is my favorite mode. “Icarus” takes your rider and nails two-by-fours to his arms and with careful timing you launch and flap your way to victory. The sheer absurdity of these mini games is a nice break from the rage-inducing tracks. The rider is completely customizable, from helmet to boots, with some of the nicer pieces being unlocked with more medals. The holy grail of costumes is the combat suit with a flight helmet that requires at least 135 medals to obtain.
There are some tracks that exclusively rely on their ability to showcase the physics engine of the game. “Mind Bender” is a really fun track with the premise of being a collapsing dream a la Inception. As you progress through the level gravity changes and the world rotates, so you can come to point where you find yourself falling leftward. So far, everyone I know that’s played the level expressed surprise and thought the track was a trip. “Physics Factory” serves as a quick showcase with seesaws, pendulums, elevators, and other assorted toys.
Now, I’m not one to yell at my video games or get mad at other players for beating me, but man this game brings the worst out of me. Having to redo sections of a track over and over and over because of one slip up can bring even the calmest of gamers to a stream of expletives. More often then not, the first run through is your best until after a couple dozen restarts gets you to the end unscathed. There comes a moment in every gamer’s life that they need to just set the controller down and walk away.
Trials Evolution brings multiplayer to the game, an improvement from the missed opportunity of Trials HD. Multiplayer can be played locally or over Xbox Live. Instead of using traditional splitscreen, local multiplayer utilizes a unique system to prevent the small details from being lost from the smaller screen. Four players race side by side on identical courses with the players in 1st and 4th place pushing the field of view. If a player happens to fault, they will respawn at the next checkpoint once the other three players have passed it. Playing over Xbox Live just adds a small dot displaying your friends’ location on the track along with a progress bar at the top. There is the problem that if you choose a track that is too difficult for any of you to finish, it is impossible to skip it, you either have to wait 30 minutes for the game to declare no winners, or for everyone to receive 500 faults. What’s really fun is to have bailout finishes enabled because it adds a bit of strategy to the finish of every race. Bailing out ejects the rider from the seat faster than a bike can move, in essence a neck and neck race can be decided by who uses a bailout. But this comes at a cost: if you bail out too early, that’s it, you’re done, you get Did Not Finished and gain no points in the race. Watching a friend fail to finish after bailing out is one of the greatest things to see, he will not forget that mistake and you will not let him.
Track Central is the editor mode for Trials Evo. The sheer variety in the maps that you can create is incredible. I was playing Snake in Trials EVo. I have no idea how the guy did it, but he made a completely functioning Snake. One of the tracks I played was an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The first section had zero gravity, which was fun to mess with at first, but soon became a hassle just because if you didn’t have enough speed before you started to float off, you’d have to either hope for the best or restart. After playing just these two tracks I now believe that it’s possible to create a ton of different tracks that aren’t just a regular sidescroller but a game within the game.
Trials Evolution is a game that, although short at a glance, will provide replayability should you choose to pursue some of the tougher challenges like getting all gold medals or even some of the achievements. If you enjoy a game that both kicks you when you’re down and lifts when you’re up, boy is this game for you. It’s $15 or 1200 M$ points, but you do get a good bang for your buck. This is a game best played during the day, because if you’re going to scream, at least do it when everyone’s awake.