Trials Evolution Review (Xbox360)

If Trials Evolution came packaged with a ‘swear jar’, I’d be a very poor man. Like an irritating nephew craving your attention, it has a habit of getting its own way. Often, the game kicks you in the shin with any minor lapse of concentration. It also has an amazing ability at producing satisfying results, like said child presenting you with a fridge-worthy scribble. The uncertainty of what will ensue isn’t only terrifying, it’s highly addictive.

Plainly put, Trials Evolution would be the kind of kid you’re glad you can hand back at the end of the day.

I say that after hours spent trying to perfect my times. If the original game taught us anything, RedLynx have an uncanny ability at making a finely-tuned challenge. Things start fairly gently, allowing you to coast through the opening stages without a sweat. A few gold medals down, the difficulty begins to build. While you’ll be launching yourself off of huge jumps in the beginning, progress further down the road is far more intimidating.

This title accidentally outlines itself into two different styles of race. As mentioned, your Evolution debut will be spent gliding across open areas and tackling the most basic of hills. An hour along, and the notion of racing is swapped for a more measured approach. Tiny obstacles throw your path off course, gaps increase sizeably. Your rider’s body will thrust back and forward, trying to propel his weight across a variation of protruding objects. It isn’t deliberate, but the first half of Trials Evolution’s single-player promotes the notion of speed, while the latter half embraces skill.

If you’ve got a full list of friends on Xbox Live, this is something you will witness. Everyone holds similar times with zero faults across the opening sections, but delve deeper into the game, and the quality of each player shows. This is by no means a bad thing, as the developers force consistent improvement to survive. It also heightens the sense of achievement, as completing the toughest tracks becomes a goal in itself, regardless of how many times you fall.

Simplicity is key. Controlling your bike and rider independently, every tiny bump makes a difference to your time, and the likelihood of your survival. Each level can be enjoyed, as you traverse the usual array of forests, warehouses and rocky terrain. The most interesting designs take inspiration from D-Day warzones, Inception-like physics puzzles, and even the world of Limbo. With each of your friend’s times appearing in dot form until you beat them, the battle for bragging rights is a constant one. If you come to Trials Evolution to waste a spare five minutes, you should book the day off, because you won’t be leaving any time soon.

This is even truer in the company of friends. Four racers can take to tracks at the same time, causing complete havoc in the process. It’s hilarious to see a player take the lead, only to stumble at the final obstacle and end up in last place. Vitally, the game punishes each fall with a score deduction at the end, meaning there’s no point finishing first if you can’t stay on two wheels. Online runs smoothly, but it plays second fiddle to having friends round for some local competition.

Alongside its main single-player tasks, plenty of other challenges have been included. Whether you’re speeding through a course with a jammed throttle, flying through the sky like a wannabe Icarus, or utilising your trapeze skills in the style of a disorientated circus performer, there’s plenty to keep your interest. If all else fails, tackling the Extreme levels will keep you busy for a fair while (This may be the reason the swear jar is full).

Customisation is available, but it should be far more compelling. You can alter your rider’s attire and bike features, but it would be great to take full control over your style.

Far more impressive is the title’s track editor, which allows almost any creation you can think up. Seasoned designers and amateurs can get to grips with this pretty easily. Already, a whole new world of content is itching for your attention. Sure, individually-made custom tracks are an excellent way of extending the game’s longevity, but it’s the unique creations that steal the show. Ever thought you’d be able to play football in the Trials world? Well, you can. What about Angry Birds? Okay, let’s not mention that.

Evolution’s main strength comes from ambition. It’s definitely a fully-fledged, weighty sequel. With a superb array of courses, newly-introduced multiplayer and a limitless track editor, 1200 MSP remains an absolute steal. You’ll tell yourself one more go, but in the end, that jar keeps on filling up.