Review: Trials Evolution

On the right track
By MITCH KRPATA  |  May 15, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars

Trials Evolution is a game about launching dirt bikes off sweet jumps, gunning for record-breaking times, and occasionally doing backflips. It's like a modern-day Excitebike.

Wait, that's not right. I'll start over.

Trials Evolution is a state-of-the-art asynchronous multiplayer experience, in which your best scores and those of your friends are in constant tension as you zip past one another on the leaderboards. Unless you're friends with Edge magazine's features editor, that is, whose sterling runs mostly make everyone else feel bad about themselves.

Argh! Messed up again. All right, this time I'll write a good lede. Check it out.

Trials Evolution is an advanced pain simulator, a clockwork mechanism designed to inflict maximum suffering on all those who dare to behold it.

Dammit. I just can't seem to get this right. There's one thing I can say for sure about Trials Evolution: it gets its hooks in deep. This is a game that is forever dangling greatness right in front of your nose, only to yank it away when you make the slightest error. No matter how many times you biff it, you always feel like you're inches away from the perfect run.

HARDER THAN IT SOUNDS Trials Evolution is forever dangling greatness right in front of your nose, only to yank it away when you make the slightest error.

The setup couldn't be simpler. As a masked dirt-bike rider assaulting a series of grueling courses, your only inputs are gas, brake, and lean. It's the last one that opens up a world of expert-level gameplay. Making it through each track isn't about speed as much as finesse. If you don't lean into a jump, you won't get the lateral boost you need to cross a gap. If you land with too much weight on your front tire, you'll lose speed, and if you land too far on your rear, you'll wipe out. Earning a good time means maintaining your momentum through every take-off and landing, with pinpoint acceleration and perfect balance throughout.

That probably doesn't sound very easy, but rest assured, mastering Trials is even harder than it sounds. "Tough but fair" is a description that people throw around willy-nilly, but in this case, it's apt. Bumbling your way to the end of a track, no matter how long it takes and how many times you crash, will earn you a bronze medal. A silver medal requires a respectable time and a fair number of faults. But gold medals — gold medals demand perfection. No faults. Blistering times. A saintly resistance to rage quitting.

When it all comes together, acing a course feels like reaching another level of consciousness. Trials requires you to focus on every inch of track, and to understand instinctively how each dip and rise can usher your rider toward the finish line. Even racing against your friends' ghosts — small gray dots representing their best runs — feels less like competition and more like a communal celebration. They seem to be urging you along, at least until you finally blow away their scores.

Trials Evolution is a triumph of pure gameplay. Easy to learn, nearly impossible to master, it will pay back whatever you're willing to invest in it — but not without shoving your face in the dirt a few times.

Whew! Made it to the end of the review. There were some rough spots, but overall I'd call it a silver-medal piece of criticism. Maybe if I try again, I can get the gold. . . .


Related: Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Review: Brink, Review: The Darkness II, More more >
  Topics: Videogames , Games, Motocross, videogames,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   GET ON YOUR SNOW (RE)BOOTS: VIDEO GAME MAKEOVERS IN 2013  |  December 21, 2012
    With the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 now in their seventh and eighth years of existence, they've been around far longer than previous console generations.
  •   THINKING MAN'S ACTION: TOP GAMES OF 2012  |  December 19, 2012
    At some point, it stopped being a trend and became the reality: the most interesting, thought-provoking games aren't mega-budget retail releases, but smaller downloadable titles.
  •   BEYOND SHOOTERS  |  September 18, 2012
    In an era of scripted set pieces and action sequences that are no more than glorified shooting galleries, Dishonored aims to give players the tools to author their own experiences.
  •   REVIEW: DARKSIDERS II  |  September 04, 2012
    "Gentlemen, I'm not going to mince words. THQ is in trouble. We're bleeding cash, and we need a hit game to save our ass. I want you to tell me what you're going to do to make Darksiders II that game."
  •   REVIEW: ORCS MUST DIE! 2  |  August 21, 2012
    We're all happy to see more games that deal honestly and maturely with questions of life and death, and that question the player's role in perpetuating the cycle of violence.

 See all articles by: MITCH KRPATA