Trials HD Hands-On

We finally got some extended hands-on time with one of the most promising downloadable games of E3 2009.

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When we first came across Trials HD at E3 09, we were waiting for another demo to start. As we sat down to kill time at Microsoft's booth, we found ourselves totally blown away by this unassuming downloadable game. You play as a motorbike racer who has to navigate ramps and obstacles, with death-defying stunts becoming ever more commonplace as you progress. However, as you get used to the physics of the world, it becomes incredibly addictive trying perfect your run-throughs. Thankfully, we won't have to wait long for it to appear as part of the Xbox Live "Summer of Arcade" this year, but we were still ecstatic to get a chance to play the game for a longer period of time in our office.

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Trials HD is being developed by RedLynx, who is effectively building on the success of its PC game Trials 2: Second Edition for the Xbox 360 version. The idea is to race a motorbike from left to right, navigating a variety of surfaces, jumps, and objects along the way. The bike is remarkably simple to control--the triggers control the acceleration and braking, while the left analog stick adjusts your rider's balance. However, the game's brilliance comes down to the slightly-over-the-top physics system, which allows you to perform some incredible jumps, tricks, and spins.

In the beginning, all you have to do is jump off modest ramps and land your bike at a right angle to the floor, but things soon get ridiculously difficult. At the medium difficulty, you'll be riding your bike upside down, going backward, and even playing seesaw with a variety of steel bars. On the harder levels, you'll have split routes through the level, giant steel balls to jump over, and insanely difficult jumps to land--all while trying to score a perfect run. You're awarded a medal depending on how long each run takes you; but be warned, gold medals are only awarded for perfect run-throughs--and it's addictively infuriating trying to get one.

While you spend most of your time in the main game trying to win more powerful bikes, the minigames are also well worth checking out. There are games where you have to roll inside a giant metal ball without crashing, games where you have to do a ski jump, and games where you have to fly through the air going through rings of fire. We loved these game modes and ended up playing them over and over to perfect our scores. If you're more creative, you can also create your own custom levels in an editor that's not too dissimilar from the one in Little Big Planet on the PlayStation 3. It certainly takes some time and skill to build something that someone will want to play, but the tools are there for creators to share their work once the full game launches.

I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher...
I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher...

It'd be great to see online multiplayer in Trials HD, but at least there's an in-game friends high scores feature available, which was very popular in Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. All in all, Trials HD is shaping up to be one of the most exciting downloadable games this summer, so keep an eye on GameSpot for more information on the game as soon as we get it.

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