For anyone who knows me, it should come as no surprise that Trials Evolution was easily one of my most anticipated games of 2012. The original sucked me in like no other downloadable game before it. I dropped over 150 hours trying to master its physics-based tracks, and let me tell you, those Extreme tracks took months to overcome. Now, almost three years later, the team at RedLynx has finally released a follow-up that echoes its namesake perfectly. Trials Evolution takes the already immaculate experience and crafts it into the best downloadable experience I have ever played. For $15, this is one game you simply have to own.
For those uninitiated, Trials is not your typical racing game. Instead, it more consists of a series of tracks that you have to maneuver while racing against the clock, obstacles and, of course, your friends. They start off simple and work their way up to punishing. Some of the Extreme tracks can literally cause you to pull your hair out. The beauty of the game is its addictive nature and minor penalties for failure. Failing a track is going to happen, but getting back in and improving your time or faults (the number of crashes per level) is where the magic kicks in.
Trials is very easy to swallow in small doses. Most tracks are less than a minute long, and figuring out the perfect way to handle jumps and exploit the exaggerated physics system to clear them faster is what will draw you in. It also helps that the game is constantly pitting you against your friends. Ghosts from your friends list constantly remind you who is top dog on each track. This drives you to one-up them. For Evolution, RedLynx has really fleshed out the community features. You can opt to show all friends as ghosts, your personal rival or even the top performer in the world.
The game also tracks every stat imaginable and posts them against your friends. You can see who has played the longest, driven the furthest and so much more. It becomes a meta game and drives you to improve. If you want direct competition, that is also included in the sequel. You can hop online or play locally on the couch for some competitive racing. This is a nice diversion from the rest of the game, but don’t expect it to really be the driving force. Although some of the created tracks can lead to some inventive racing with friends. Speaking of that-
Hello Track Central, where have you been all my life? One of the coolest features of Trials is that it gives players a chance to create their own tracks. With the first game, the editor was robust, but the sharing method was broken. You could only share with people on your friends list, which limited your access. This time around, RedLynx created Track Central, which plays host to new tracks, skill games and multiplayer courses. The plethora of content that will likely flow out of this feature will keep gamers playing for months, possibly years, to come. The editor within the game is extremely versatile, allowing players to create some truly unique courses and games.
Trials Evolution uses their engine to its limits. This new editor can create anything from a first-person shooter to an Angry Birds clone, both of which are already available for download. Imagining what we will see over the next six months simply reiterates the fact that this is probably the best downloadable package you will see for quite some time. Within Track Central, you can sort tracks based on downloads, ratings and even picks by the developers. This system will really keep constant content flowing for quite some time, and give much to those of us who have been clamoring for new Trials material since we conquered the previous game.
Speaking of skill games, Evolution now brings forth a new addiction with the Skill Game Circus. Much like the previous game, these involve punishing your rider in various ways of skill, or just trying to outdo the physics themselves. The new engine allows for some cool new ideas, such as a skiing game and more bizarre offerings like the UFO landing game. The set skill games are good, but wait until you see what CAN be done with the editor. Creations are bound to pour in over time making the initial $15 investment seriously seem like you are ripping off the creators.
If there is one area I could complain about it is the visuals. The game doesn’t scare away the townsfolk or anything, but it definitely shows its age. When restarting a checkpoint, textures are still popping in, and some of the animations, while humorous, are a bit juvenile. The game can also crawl a bit when too much is going on in the background. As of this writing, there are also some hiccups with the online. Leaderboards not updating and such, but before release they were working fine, so it was likely due to server strain. I imagine it will be ironed out quickly. It simply means the game is selling better than they expected, which is good news for those monitoring Track Central.
Trials Evolution is about as close as you can get to a perfect downloadable package. It has nearly limitless potential to entertain gamers, and its addictive properties are unmatched. If you liked the first game, this is a no-brainer. If you were lukewarm to the original, I suggest giving it another go. The skill games and the possibilities that are sure to come are more than worth the price of admission. This is the game that will keep on giving for months to come. For $15, I almost feel like I am ripping RedLynx off for the sheer amount of content and enjoyment. This is what downloadable games should be. I cannot recommend it enough.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.