You only have to say the words “Inferno II” to send shivers down the spines of Trials HD players. The bike-riding puzzle Xbox Live Arcade title, which started out as a flash-based in-browser game, became an instant hit when it released in August 2009 and the sequel has done exactly the same, almost three years later.
Developed by RedLynx, Trials Evolution contains the same gameplay and features that its predecessor did, with a lot more added in. More tracks, more insane jumps, more madness… more everything.
For the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with the Trials series: Players ride on a motorcycle, leaning and changing their speed to overcome obstacles. The aim of the game is to get to the end of the level as fast as possible and with as fewer crashes as possible (known as faults), which often requires the use of trial-and-error which may not be favoured by those with little patience.
The main single player game mode has gamers obtaining licenses and medals to unlock new events and tournaments. Each new event is comprised of a number of levels based on a particular environment. The game’s environments range from industrial estates to the great outdoors, with elements of them collapsing and blowing up, which often feel like scenes from the 1963 film, “The Great Escape.” Once again, it's the "Extreme" tracks that will provide players with the most difficulty as the learning curve takes a massive vertical incline.
The Skill games make a welcome return, this time in the form of the “Skill Game Circus.” There’s a range of game skills to provide variety in the game, from flying a UFO to using skis and not being allowed to lean, to only having a limited amount of gas. It’s all in there. While some of them are genuinely fun to play, their lasting appeal isn’t as strong as it was in its predecessor and players will quickly return to the main single player content.
Money obtained through the single player can be used to purchase new items from the “Garage” – a place for character and bike customisation. There’s a good selection of helmets, tops, bottoms, gloves and boots for the player’s driver and plastic parts, metal parts and accessories for the bikes. There are also a few added bonuses for those who have unlocked certain achievements on Trials HD.
Similarly to Trials HD, the latest addition in the series displays how the player’s friends’ progressed in the same level. This further adds to the competiveness of the game as players attempt to rank not only in the worldwide leaderboards, but their friends’ one as well.
Unlike its predecessor, Trials Evolution contains multiplayer support for up to four players, both locally and over Xbox Live. The two game modes on offer are “Trials” and “Supercross.” While Trials is very similar to the single player with the exception of additional players, Supercross is a race to the finish line. Points are awarded for the player’s finishing position, though points are deducted for every crash/bail. The competitiveness of this game mode makes it more enjoyable than Trials and is a great addition to the title.
While Trials HD contained a track creator, sharing tracks could only been done with friends. Thankfully, RedLynx has improved on this for Trials Evolution, with creations being accessible to everyone on Xbox Live. Additionally, user-created levels get their very own leaderboards, allowing players to compare their recorded times.
Furthermore, the track creator is a lot more in-depth than before. The large-scale environments players can use to build a track and the wide variety of options available means there’s endless replayability – something a lot of Xbox Live Arcade titles have lacked in recent months. Think LittleBigPlanet without the Sackboys.
Graphically, Trials Evolution is very pleasing on the eye. The detail in the bikes, the rider and especially the environments will certainly bring out the best in your television, especially in high definition. Regrettably, the soundtrack is not up to the same standard, as the music is quite frankly, very poor. Fortunately, the dry production and over-the-top lyrics can hardly be heard behind the roaring of engines.
Overall, Trials Evolution is definitely one of the best Xbox Live Arcade titles available, if not the best. The title improves on everything from its predecessor and goes one step further with the incredible track editor and the addition of multiplayer. Other developers take note: this is how sequels should be done.