There is something deeply satisfying when a true XBLA game lives up to the standard of the overpriced Triple A blockbusters that fill the retail shelves. Three years ago Trails HD brought us something different, something additive and more importantly something fun that was easily accessible and cheap. Now Trials Evolution has pushed this success even further.
Despite the success of Trials HD, there were some frustrations that could easily have alienated all but the most dedicated gamer. Some of the tracks and obstacles were very difficult and punishing and the environments themselves were nothing to write home about.
Although the online leaderboards were a great idea to spur you on to performing better and the ability to download ghost replays of those that have the high scores was appealing, the game became too difficult for the casual player.
Trials Evolution tries to change all that. The tracks and levels are more appealing and although they are still effectively a 2D environment, they look better and have a more 3D feel about them. The surroundings are brighter and the tracks are more varied and have a more uplifting effect.
The controls are the same and as simple as ever. Mastering the movement is as simple as learning to brake, accelerate and shift your weight in order to perform tricks and complex manoeuvres over obstacles. There are cool tutorials you help you along in the form of licenses and this is a big change over the "work it out yourself" attitude of the original.
The complexity of the tracks has been altered and now you will earn medals based on how you did in the level. Only after riding through 135 will the Extreme courses be unlocked and a new Platinum reward for the previous tracks will be available. This adds a huge amount of content to what is a budget game.
The leaderboards are still a great motivator but Trials Evolution adds a new element. Now you are able to see the progress of your friends in the form of coloured dots or gamertags right on the track as you progress. No greater incentives are necessary. If you find it annoying there are options to reduce or remove them.
Multiplayer modes have also been added. Now it is possible to race against friends and other gamers both locally and online. Locally you are restricted to the Supercross where up to four players race special tracks side by side at the same time. The tracks are line 4 lane highways and although it can get hectic and the riders are smaller, it is hugely entertaining.
Online multiplayer can choose Supercross mode or Trials mode. In Trials mode up to 4 racers match off against each other simultaneously on the same track. Again the tracks are great and the competition adds a new dimension to the game.
Another great feature is track Central. A full blown track editor is available and you'll be able to create and share tracks with other gamers. This again will lengthen the playability of the game and should provide some cool and brilliant track additions from the Trials community.
For what is essentially an XBLA game at 1200 Microsoft points, Trials Evolution is simply amazing and incredible value. The game is easy to pick up and not only great to play but great to play in groups. The track editor will ensure many, many additional hours of gameplay. Simply Wonderful.