Trials Evolution offers more excitement, more variety, more challenges and overall, more fun

User Rating: 8.5 | Trials Evolution X360
Created by RedLynx, Trials HD was perhaps one of the most innovative games to hit the Xbox Live Arcade. Heck, it practically revived the motocross genre that died along with Excitbike some time ago. It was rare to see a game take a few risks and offer a challenge, and it did it well. Now, Trials Evolution hits the arcade, building on everything Trials HD did right and giving us more excitement, variety, challenges and fun to be had in possibly the best motocross game on the market.

In case you haven't played either game before, taking place on a 2D plane, you control a dirt bike as you drive your way through several obstacles courses. By flipping and balancing your bike through the air, you have to rely on working with the physics in order to make it in the end. Your goal is to overcome the obstacles in each stage with as few faults as possible.

One problem with the first game was the environments; they were all practically the same setting, inside a warehouse, and it could get frustrating thanks to the physics and relying on dumb luck in the harder stages. Evolution improves on both of these problems. The game has a better learning curve thanks to its increased number of levels, which now eases newcomers into the difficulty as opposed to the difficulty spike in the first. Hard and Expert are still challenging for you hardcore players, but medium actually feels like medium this time. What's even more fun is the levels have a lot more variety and creativity this time. Tracks vary from settings such as mountains, valleys, D-day, construction sites, water pump stations, a baseball field and many more. You'll be pleased to know that every track looks and feels different as opposed to racing in a warehouse every time. The track design feels better this time around and that is complicated by the improved physics engine. Like I said, the physics were decent in the first game, but much of the harder levels relied on luck while the design here takes more concentration and they feel more doable. You'll still be frustrated with how ruthlessly hard this game can become, but you won't feel that it is the game's fault.

Besides the main game are, of course, the Skill Games. Trials HD had plenty of Skill Games like Down the Stairs or Delivery but Evolution has more variety once again, even offering some that don't involve a bike. You'll have plenty of bike mini games like Gas Problem (see how far you can go while on a limited supply of gas) or harder games like Cruise Control (see how far you can go with the throttle stuck on). Then there's are others that take you out of the bike like S.P.H.E.R.E (sort of a Marble Madness clone), Hit the Slopes (where you ride on skis instead of a bike) or UFO (drive a UFO and land on deignated targets). It sounds like they don't belong but surprisingly, most of them do (except for maybe S.P.H.E.R.E). I'd say both games offer a great variety of Skill Games to play as well as their share of lame ones, though I do miss Down the Stairs.

Evolution also introduces a money system this time around. Completing courses at certain times with as little faults as possible will earn you medals, complete the course in the fastest time with no faults will earn you a gold. This determines how much money you earn and you can use that for.....mainly just customization. You can buy clothes or a helmet for your rider or you can buy parts for your bikes. The only catch is after you get the gold in a course, you still get paid for completing it, but not nearly as much which may lead to some grinding once you beat everything.

Lastly, Evolution actually added a multiplayer mode this time, and it is as fun as we could have ever imagined. For local, you are only limited to Supercross where you and up to 3 friends race along side one another and race through one of several crazy tracks as you race towards the end with as little of faults as possible. When you die, you must wait for the other racers to cross a checkpoint before you can respawn, and everybody respawns at the last checkpoint if you all die. Faults will cost you points by the end of the race, and failing to finish will cost you everything. If you want to make things funnier, you can turn on bail out finish which allows you to launch yourself across the finish line. The chaos of all four bikes can throw you off but that doesn't stop it from being hilarious, hectic fun. You can take it online too where you can play others in Supercross or Trials mode, where you race the main tracks but you race them simultaneously with up to 3 other players. Online is as fun as offline, but the matchmaking itself is flawed. The main problem is that sometimes it can take you ages just to load up a game.

Trials Evolution is very similar to its predecessor, but hey, if it isn't broken, why fix it? This super sequel proves to be even better with better track designs, more variety, more challenges, a hectic multiplayer mode and the return of that solid and satisfying gameplay which is more than worthy of your $15/1200 microsoft points. It builds on what worked before and fixes what the first did wrong, and that's all a sequel needs to do.