Trials Evolution: The Kotaku Review

Trials Evolution: The Kotaku Review

My time with Trials Evolution got me thinking a lot about human perfectibility. It’s essentially the principle that no matter how good a person is at something, given enough will and effort, there’s still ostensibly room for them to get even better. That idea seems to be one that developer RedLynx banks on with. “Yeah, you did great that time,” the Trials games smirk, “but bet you can’t shave off two more seconds off that time…” And so back you go.

What keeps you coming back to a Trials track is the design vocabulary embedded inside each level. The little hills and dips taunt you to master their inclines while the looping ramps goad you into foolhardy stunts that will cost you time or dignity. The remarkable thing about Evolution is how it feels simultaneously tight and loose. The physics are super-sensitive but they unfold in a world that’s obviously been meticulously tuned.

WHY: The sequel to one of the best-loved Xbox Live Arcade games improves in almost every way, with surprisingly great multiplayer and user-generated content.

Trials Evolution

Developer: RedLynx Platforms: Xbox 360 (Version played) Released: April 18 (Xbox Live)

Type of game: Motorcycle racing/platforming game with online multiplayer.

What I played: 25% of the singleplayer in about 6 hours; spent about 4 hours making and playing multiplayer and user-generated content.

Two Things I Loved

  • Multiplayer gets implemented really well in Evolution and the bruising difficulty remains intact even as you compete against others. It feels great to be able to watch other people’s mistakes and take advantage.
  • Grabbing air in Evolution is a double-edged thrill because you’re worrying about nailing a landing even as you’re soaring through the sky.

Two Things I Hated

  • Trials Evolution boasts one of the worst soundtracks I’ve heard in years. From the annoying aggro rap at start-up to the cheesy rock throughout, it all made my ears bleed.
  • I lost hours trying to master some of the game’s tracks. All too often, it feels like you need to have perfect execution just to complete certain levels.

Made-to-Order Back-of-Box Quotes

  • “The crazy crashes your rider endures in Trials Evolution are straight out of a chiropractor’s wet dream!” – -Evan Narcisse, Kotaku
  • “The last time I got beat up this bad, I had to begin every sentence with “‘Mistress, may I…'” -Evan Narcisse, Kotaku

Like its predecessor, Trials Evolution requires an exacting precision when it comes to shifting your body weight forward and back to make jumps and climb steep slanted surfaces. But where Trials HD‘s levels were mostly foreboding indoor contraptions, Evolution embraces the great outdoors with beautifully detailed designs and feels funnier, freer and less sadistic as a result.

There’s a broad sense of humour that comes through almost every track and the assemblage of catapults, water spouts and boost strips kept me smiling at their inventiveness even as they made my life hell.

You might be worried that the change in atmosphere means that RedLynx has made Trials too friendly. Don’t worry. They haven’t. There has been some adjustment with regard to how the challenges roll out up but Evolution is still incredibly challenging. You’ll get intimately aware with the springiness of your controller triggers and the resistance of the analogue sticks, because it seems like the slightest micrometer movements could mean the difference between success and failure.

Control and chaos snuggle up to each other tightly in Trials Evolution and players will find themselves trying to squirm their way in between the two extremes. Play too conservative and you won’t experience the biggest thrills of certain levels; do the opposite and you’ll constantly be bouncing back to checkpoints to make up for reckless flips.

Because you ran through its levels solo, playing Trials HD felt like doing push-ups in your living room. The addition of multiplayer makes Evolution feel like a potato sack race during recess. It’s fun but if you really want to win, you need to be incredibly focused. Supercross races pit you against as many as three other players on the same screen. Competing on the trials tracks has you contending against the ghosts of other players on the same track at the same time. I experienced almost no lag during either mode.

The track creations playable at launch already impress me with the flexibility. Playing through the user-generated levels reminded me of LittleBigPlanet but with tighter physics, more mud and much more screaming. The possibilities aren’t limited to motorbike racing either. I played an FPS track, along with homages to Jetpack Joyride, Super Meat Boy and Angry Birds. They all worked incredibly well, both as jokes and their own experiences.

You’ll get two flavours of track editor — Lite and Pro — in Trials Evo and I was able to slap together a rudimentary but fun environment very quickly. There’s a unique sort of misdirection that pops up when playing a user track. A race could go on for minutes, meandering with sudden twists and challenging you with ramps and slopes.

On one track called “the big ride,” I just knew that its creator was screwing with me after two turns made it seem like I was going to head straight into a wall. And its creator FAyMIngchOWOwa most definitely was. But I enjoyed that the surprise and uncertainty that he or she created in the track.

The new category of Skill Games held some surprises, too. It’s a repository of wildly experimental experiences where you can pilot a UFO, ride without brakes or try to finish using as little gas as possible. Some of them feel like disposable novelties but they do a good job of expanding on just how much creativity lies inside of Evolution.

It’s designed to be a game that you experience in small, bite-sized chunks butTrials Evolution feels more like training for a marathon. It’s an experience where you need to master the mechanics of your own body gradually for an awesome reward. I’ve never been so aware of my thumbs and how they throb and cramp as I have been while playing Trials Evolution. It may offer a more a more forgiving difficulty ramp, but it still hurts. In a very, very good way.


  • God damned Trials.

    It’s like an abusive partner. It hurts me because it loves me.

  • Quick question for all your Trials nuts… Did anyone ever play Elsatomania? Is Trials similar to that?
    I don’t have an Xbox so unfortunately I can’t join in the fun.
    However Elastomania took up a great deal of my later schooling years.

    • Very much like elastomania, minus the flip mechanic (you always face right in trials) and the hand correction (more of a lean correction in trials)

    • Haha, I loved that game. It is somewhat similar. Apart from using your forks like elastomania did. Trials is more techy and more time consuming

    • It took up my late high school years too! Damn you Elastomania. Take out the bike elasticity and 2D, and the premise is pretty much the same as Trials.

    • I played elastomania heaps too, an alltime favourite. Theres bike or die 2 for ios, which is close (to elastomania), but its let down a little by control accuracy.. Would be nice if Trials Evo was for PC, I’d buy it. Trial xtreme 2 and Motorbike HD are also a bit of fun if you like gaming on an ipad; Not meaning to deviate from the obvious coolness of Trials evo tho.

  • As a newcomer to Trials, I’ve found it absolutely excellent.

    You can approach it like a platformer and use the generous checkpoint system to simply make your way to the end of the level for a bronze medal, or put a bit of practice in and get a decent time and a silver medal, or – possibly putting your controller at risk – go for a zero-fault gold-medal time. The gold medals come relatively easy at first but soon enough you are just happy with a silver. You promise you won’t put up with such abuse to try and get a gold… except, ok, just one more then.

    And the way it shows the times your friends have managed through its ghost system is impressive and very addictive. I spent ages trying to improve my time on a track last night because so many of my friends were faster.

    I also really like the level design. It’s always interesting and varied and constantly giving you new experiences.

    With the power of the engine and the user-generated levels and the sheer addictive nature of the entire package, this is a huge amount of content for $20. A great purchase.

  • I really don’t need to let my feelings for this game be known again..

    But I also got my name in the damn credits so let me just say that the credits are awesome!

  • Maybe it’s just me, but after much anticipation for Evolution I am a very very happy chappy. One of the best games I’ve played to date. RedLynx have improved on everything tenfold. Very hard to put down and sometimes even harder to suffer through.


Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!