Expansive Overview: Trials Evolution: Gold Edition

Trials Evolution has finally made its way to PC with the all-exciting Gold edition.

How is it? Read on and find out…

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Red Lynx
Release Date: Out Now
Format: PC
Version Tested: PC

It’s been 5 years since PC gamers have been able to backflip and bunny hop their way across the courses of RedLynx’s signature franchise, but finally the pain is back with an exclusive “Gold Edition” repackaging of 2012’s Xbox Live Arcade hit Trials Evolution.

If you’ve played any of the Trials games before, you know exactly what to expect here – a series of physics based challenges in the form of obstacle courses that need to be traversed on motorcycle in the quickest time possible and with the fewest number of faults.  Sounds easy, right? Not so much…

The game is called Trials for a reason and the level of repetition required to understand and master the nuances of each track may put some gamers off.  That said, you’ll definitely find yourself at the mercy of “just one more try” until you hit that sweet spot of a zero fault play through, even though there’s a real sense of satisfaction that comes with nailing a really awkward landing.  This feeling is amplified by the fact the game records your run of each track, allowing you to save the replay and upload it to YouTube for bragging rights and an ego boost.

Evolution possesses a steep learning curve and while the difficulty increases are preceded by “License Tests” that serve as introductions to the new bike and moves required for traversing the upcoming tracks, I expect many gamers will call it a day after the medium difficulty events.  I was able to achieve a gold rank – no faults and under par time – for all of these courses without any real trouble, and though there were a couple that kept me busy, I always felt like it was my carelessness that caused these failures and I needed to keep improving.  Conversely, there’s a very noticeable hike in difficulty thereafter and it was evident from my first outing on the initial hard track that it was going to require a much greater investment and understanding of the physics system to conquer the remaining content.  Still there’s a community of expert players out there willing to rise to this challenge and they’re a joy to watch, even if it does make you feel inadequate.

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Don’t feel put off by this barrier, though, add on mini-game style Skill Games that offer up some really interesting gameplay alternatives and a host of tournaments to test your performance over a series of tracks and there’s an absolute tonne of course content to be enjoyed here.  On top of all of this, the Gold Edition comes bundled with a version of the original Trials HD that’s been integrated directly into Evolution’s engine.  All of the levels from 2009’s Trials HD have been faithfully reproduced with the environments looking cleaner and pyrotechnics feeling more impressive under the newer engine.  While these original tracks don’t have the same impact of Evolution’s external setting, it’s a chance for PC players to experience a game that opened up Trials to an entirely new audience and maybe feel a little more at home returning to the warehouse environment of Trials 2 Second Edition.

The more creative players will enjoy getting their teeth stuck into either the “Lite” or “Pro” versions of the Track Editor, depending on the complexity of their ideas.  The former offers a simplified creation interface and is perfect for small ideas or those dipping their toe into the water for the first time.  The more intimidating Pro Editor will take some getting used to, but provides full access to the content creation system the developers used to build the core game.  This level of control over elements such as camera perspective, gameplay mechanics and weather effects from Evolution’s new outdoor setting allow players to create some truly unique and cinematic experiences.

The simple, but enjoyable multiplayer mode serves as a welcome distraction from the main game or those seeking the thrill of more immediate competition outside of the leaderboards.  Players have a choice of 3 modes; Supercross, which allows 4 players to race simultaneously across a specialized track and Normal or Hardcore Trials, in which 2 players compete in-line across a selection of tracks from the main game.  Points are awarded, or deducted, based on level performance, to determine podium rankings. This, in turn, awards experience points to level up the player’s rank.

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Final Analysis

The PC port of Trials Evolution offers the most complete Trials experience to date, and at a reasonable asking price for the amount of content provided.  Those on a budget will also be pleased to know that, while the game begs to be played with a controller, it handles really well with the keyboard. Unfortunately, the jump to PC hasn’t been completely smooth and some of the problems seen on the 360 are still evident.  Textures can still struggle to load in before you reset at a checkpoint, the list of player and bike unlocks is relatively bland, leaving little worth spending cash on,  and the constant barrage of heavy metal tracks is best silenced for your favorite Spotify playlist. However, none of this should detract from a title that delivers so well in its gameplay.

If you played Trials Evolution on Xbox last summer, there’s no real reason to return for this outing, but if you’ve yet to experience the thrills and frustrations of one of the most successful arcade games of recent years, this is the best way to do it.