I thought I was over-uselessly waving my controller in the direction I want an on-screen avatar to go, I really did. Yet, several races in to Trials Evolution's 'hard' events I found myself uselessly shuffling my chair towards the right-hand corner of the room and screwing up my face like toilet paper, as my rider teeters on his back wheel. A lethal fall onto explosives awaits him if I fail - alas, by this point it feels like all I can do is fail.
My creased-up face aside, Trials Evolution
marks a shift from the highly-technical, tooth-grindingly tough territory of the original onto slightly more accessible ground. It's a welcome move from developer RedLynx and Ubisoft.
Like its predecessor, Trials HD
is part off-road bike game, part platformer. You control a trials rider over assorted ramps, walkways, platforms, narrow beams, spiky pits of death and mile-long falls into pancakedom. You don't have to worry about direction – that's taken care of and your rider follows a fixed line. Your only controls are accelerate (RT), brake (LT) and balance (left analogue stick). To progress you have to make your way through the levels as quickly and with as few faults as possible. Meeting certain targets gets you bronze, silver and gold medals. Simple, right? Yes. Sure. Obviously.
In terms of nuts and bolts, nothing's changed from the last game in the single-player mode. The controls and level formats follow the same basic formula of the last game. The difficulty curve and thinking behind the design has been adjusted, however. HD
really was aimed at the more technical gamer who goes for really challenging, fiddly fayre.
certainly still gets seriously challenging, but RedLynx takes a bit more time about getting there. Earlier stages focus more on faster, smoother play. You'll get through these by getting a feel for their rhythm and play feels relatively comfortable. The License Tests (tutorials) that pop up between Events (collections of races) might instruct you to do something more difficult, but things don't get too awkward until later on.
You're also given a bit of flexibility in how you approach the game in that you need to collect a certain number of medals in order to progress and unlock later levels, but you're free to pick and choose where you acquire those medals. If you come across a particular obstacle that's seriously vexing you (and you will
) there's always the option to skip the race it's in and come back to it later.
As you progress the game changes slightly. It becomes choppier, more technical and, in places, fiendishly difficult. Here Evolution
becomes more like a tough platformer than a fast racer. Difficult, near-vertical climbs and tricky bunny hops onto narrow platforms with naff all room for manoeuvre become the order of the day. The ability/difficulty ratio shifts towards the heinous, and were Evolution
that challenging from the word go (and were I not reviewing it so I can pay my rent) it might have been tempting to throw in the towel. But, by the time things got hard I was having having so much fun that the ball-grinding sections became something to relish rather than abandon.