I’ve always enjoyed the ‘trials’ type of games. They’re easy to understand: you can accelerate, brake, lean back, or lean forwards. They’re a challenge to balance those factors to get through the various levels and this (if they’re tuned properly) leads to the right level of frustration and the “one more go, I can beat this” feeling.
When Trials: HD came out on the XBox 360, I downloaded the trial as soon as I could, and bought the full game not long after. It was a lot of fun, at least for a while, until the problems eventually made me give up. Some courses were a bit too unforgiving for me, with checkpoints often placed where you simply couldn’t get past the next obstacle. At least with my level of skill.
Trials: Evolution improves on the original in a lot of ways. The most obvious is that we’re taken out of the rather drab warehouse interiors and now play over mostly outdoor courses. There’s a good range of backgrounds with parks, docks, train stations and more. They’re all quite pretty and really do add something to the experience when you’re flying through the air.
The courses don’ just stick to the ground and there are structures that are hung far up in the air that you have to navigate. This adds to the exhilaration when you pull off a huge jump and your bike arcs through the air. Most of the courses are well laid out with sections you can roar through, and sections you have to be more skilful with. They also play with the camera more, zooming in and out, and even rotating it, which often emphasises the adrenaline rush.
They’ve tweaked the controls and the physics engine. In HD it was far too easy to have your bike bouncing all over the place, making it nearly impossible to get past some obstacles. In Evolution it feels much nicer to control. This isn’t to say it’s all easy, but you feel more in control.
They’ve added more checkpoints, and most are in a place where you can easily recover and not be stuck on the same part of the course trying over and over fruitlessly.
At least, that’s what I thought until I got to some of the later “Collateral Damage” (or “Medium”) levels. It’s worst in the ‘Gigatrack”, the final of the Collateral Damage levels, where you have huge swathes of track before another checkpoint – and some of those sections are … interesting. The problem with having to repeat such huge chunks again, and again, is that the frustration factor soon becomes “throw the controller across the room” frustration.
Don’t get me wrong, I really have enjoyed the game up until now, but right now I can’t see myself wanting to get further – which is a pity really.