Eleven months after the crazily addictive Xbox LIVE Arcade title Trials Evolution hit Xbox screens, the PC can finally also take a crack at the challenging madness in Trials HD: Gold Edition. If you’ve played the Xbox 360 version
, the formula will doubtlessly be familiar: navigate your motorcycle rider from point A to B on a 2D path in a 3D environment by manipulating accelerator, brakes, leaning forward and leaning backwards.
It sounds easy, and the initial levels labelled ‘Easy’ are certainly just that, but you’ll soon discover that the simplicity of scoring gold medals on early tracks with seemingly minimal interaction soon beget levels that you’ll be happy to score a bronze on for simply crossing the finish line. Each time you think you’ve got the formula down pat, Trials Evolution throws a sneaky curve ball at you and adds another gameplay trick to take into account.
As far as ports go, it fares rather well. While hardly stunning, Gold Edition is marginally prettier than its Xbox LIVE counterpart, especially in lighting effects, more rounded edges, and in the detailed backgrounds that you won’t really have a chance to admire as your eyes will be firmly fixed on your bike’s orientation and the track ahead. The game is actually a combination of Trials HD and Trials Evolution, meaning there’s a tonne of content on offer and, despite the simplicity of the formula, it never really feels the same.
There is, however, still the odd sporadic appearance of console controller prompts, and the gameplay is noticeably trickier with keyboard cursors than on a controller. I did experience a game crash and sporadic connectivity issues on earlier levels, but subsequent patches seem to have ironed out such issues. Outside of this, the most prominent faux ‘bug’ is the debatable physics fails—which, half of the time, are absolutely hysterical—that can lead to frustration at falling off the bike and ruining your chances of scoring gold.
The PC version has also added a neat upload feature, whereby a couple of clicks can have you sending a recording of your latest track attempt to YouTube. While a great feature in principle, it’s unfortunate that you can’t continue to play the game while the game stores an offline copy of the video and also during the upload process itself. One of my upload tests (highest quality settings) took 20 minutes to get the file online, which was 20 minutes I wasn’t playing the game, and the resultant video was a bit choppy
But most of that gripe has to do with being taken away from that addictive gameplay. While certain levels can be bested in a couple of minutes, I found myself playing multi-hour game sessions because of how well the formula works. Then there’s the appeal of scoring those increasingly harder gold medals that will haunt you in conjunction with wanting to be the top of a leaderboard, or the little white dots that represent friends’ attempts at each level they’ve played.
This is also only a taste of what’s on offer from the online community in Trials Evolution. You can jump online into four-player multiplayer races on a variety of tracks, testing your mettle against friends or anonymous foes to see who’s the best in a live environment where there isn’t the benefit of a ‘restart the race’ button. On top of this, you can download and play user-created tracks, or try your hand at creating your own with your choice of simplified or advanced track-creation tools.
At $25 a pop, not recommending Trials Evolution: Gold Edition is a challenge that’s beyond an ‘Expert’ difficulty track, and not worth attempting. Whether playing by yourself or against others, Trials Evolution is an addictive blast that should not be missed.