BUY IT FROM XBLA: RIGHT HERE!
PLATFORM: Xbox Live Arcade
PRICE: 1200 Points ($15)
ESRB RATING: T
DEVELOPER:
RedLynx
PUBLISHER: Microsoft Game Studios
 
The Trials series has been a big hit on PCs. What started out as a simple online flash game about motorcycles led to the release of Trials 2: Second Edition last year to great acclaim via Steam (download the demo here.)  Now a revamped and much prettier installment has hit the Xbox 360 with the simple name of Trials HD.

Are you ready for some punishing and oh so satisfying gameplay?


THE PITCH
 
There’s no story or anything to get in the way of your fun. You’re on a motorcycle for no apparent reason and you’re trying to get to the finish line as fast and with as few crashes as possible. You get medals and can unlock more tracks and bikes depending on your performance.
   
THE PLAY

This is a true throwback. Most people will be reminded of Excitebike when they start this up, and it’s a fair comparison. You’ll spend most of your time trying to straighten out your bike for jumps, after all, and you’re just traveling from left to right on a 2D plane. Excitebike never had ragdoll physics and fire hazards, though.


CHUDTIP- Keep your speed up if you catch on fire, otherwise it’ll consume you.


The game is incredible simple. Right trigger is gas, left is brake, and you shift your weight forward or backward with the left analog stick. That’s really all there is to it. But the amount of control you have over your bike is staggering, and you’ll need to learn how tiny little changes will affect your movements. The courses have all sorts of obstacles and get increasingly insane, with the later ones requiring a helluva lot of practice to get through. You’ll need to learn how to shift your weight from back to front to make your bike jump farther over gaps, lean forward and hit the throttle to go up steep ramps, hit the brake to make sure your bike doesn’t flip up and crash. It requires a lot of practice and trial and error.

  


CHUDTIP- Looks simple enough, right? Just you wait. Keep in mind how expensive controllers are and try not to break too many of yours.


It can get downright frustrating when you’re hopelessly crashing and watching your mangled body bounce off the ground as you’re just trying to get up one stupid hill or hit a big jump, jamming on the B button to restart instantly and have another go at it. Thankfully there’s a ton of checkpoints set up right before any tricky jumps or maneuvers, so you can hone your skills at that one particular trick until you get it right (or just get lucky).

The game also wisely keeps track of all your friend’s scores and compares you to them, giving you a little bit more of a kick in the ass to compete and go for the Gold and Platinum medals. The score-based competition is what made you keep coming back to Geometry Wars 2 and the same applies here- you’ll see your friends inching up your list and want to go back to knock them back down a few pegs.

THE PRESENTATION

Those who’ve played Trials 2 will be amazed at how much this has been revamped. The character models and lighting effects are pretty fantastic and add to the experience, and a steady 60 fps framerate keeps things smooth.


The music is comprised of repetitive heavy metal riffs and techno music that somehow never gets irritating, but perhaps that’s because you’ll be so sucked into it that you won’t even be paying attention to anything else. It’s that kind of game.
 
THE REPLAY

The biggest problem with Trials HD is that there isn’t nearly enough levels. 35 might sound like a lot but they go by very quickly, with most easily beaten in a minute or two. Sure, some of those Expert levels might be downright impossible, but it would have been nice to have more of the easier ones to fool around with. Trials 2 had over 50, after all. There are also Tournaments which are simply collections of levels that you’ll have to complete one after the other.


CHUDTIP- Always be aware of how your rider is sitting on his bike, so you know which way to shift his weight next.


There are also a few Skill Games which have you doing everything from riding on top of (or in!) a giant metal ball, riding as far as you can on fire, riding around a giant pinball machine, and other fun stuff. These are quick and amusing but don’t offer a whole lot of replay value.

Thankfully a level editor is included so you can create your own levels, if you’re into that kind of thing. I personally don’t really have the patience for it and neither do any of my friends apparently, which is a bummer because you can only share tracks between people you know. This game screams for a way to download the top rated tracks from all players.


CHUDTIP – If you’ve made some good tracks do me a favor and add me as a friend! I need more.


DLC is on the way, though.
 

THE VERDICT

Only the hardcore need apply. Trials HD is tons of fun but the level of difficulty will really put off most gamers, especially at the price point of 15 bucks. But put the time into it and you’ll find a worthy, addictive game.
 

8.0 out of 10