I’m a huge fan of the Trials games. They really nailed that simple but addictive play style that arcade games need at their core to be truly great. So much so in fact, that it was released for the relatively short lived Xbox Live Arcade service on the Xbox 360 console. Trials Evolution was also chosen as a bundle game for some consoles alongside Forza Motorsport, demonstrating just how much of the “pull factor” Microsoft believed the game had. And of course, was correct in doing so.

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The series started out as an exclusive for Xbox players in terms of the console market, and Trials Evolution marked the last title where this was the case. Afterwards PlayStation and Nintendo Switch owners were welcomed to the party. This game also marked the first occasion where PC players could properly get their hands on it, as in the very early days previous titles had been humble browser games.

Trials Evolution was a sequel to the very well received Trials HD, released on the Xbox 360 a few years previously. At its core the game is a racer, whether that be against opponents or the clock. However, the courses are essentially a set of increasingly complex obstacle courses which are filled with jumps, drops and loops. You’ll need to wrestle with the in-game physics to ensure your bike stays on track. This means rotating your rider whilst in mid-air to correctly execute the landing and avoiding wiping out. A stand out memory for me were some huge drops that provided a few heart in the mouth moments and were pretty exhilarating.

When playing solo in the career mode, your main aim was to complete each of the fifty tracks in the quickest time, with the fewest faults (or crashes) as possible. What did raise a smile is that once you hit the finish line, your rider smashed into the next obstacle, as you were left to watch, powerless to intervene. It was not as repetitive as it might sound however, because of the diversity of locations you were racing in along with the brilliant variety of the tracks in terms of their design. There were also some skill games that mixed up the gameplay, such as needing to balance a large marble for as long as possible whilst gingerly riding on a track.

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Put simply, what also helps is that Trials Evolution was just great fun to play. Thanks to its arcade DNA you could jump in and out, but there was enough to hold your attention for a session compromising a good few hours. Even when you’d had enough of the single player mode, there was plenty to keep you entertained.

Trials Evolution offered local and online multiplayer with up to three other players, which was somewhat reminiscent of Excitebike albeit with a substantial graphical overhaul. The 3D racing on a 2D plane again provided the ideal balance of new and old which matched the arcade feel of the game perfectly. In fact, overall the game ran smoothly and looked brilliant.

The comprehensive track editor paved the way for some brilliant creations, and they could be shared with players all over the world. For those with a little less creative vision, the “Lite Editor” made a return from Trials HD which wasn’t quite as overwhelming. For a measure of just how awesome the “Pro Editor” was, have a little look on YouTube for the Star Wars one. It looks like a completely different game. Then pinch yourself and check the date this game was released. It was pretty remarkable. 

To personalise the experience and encourage replayability, Trials Evolution also offered the ability for the player to customise their bike and rider with all sorts of gear and parts. Money earned for performing well in the career mode could be used to purchase these items in-game. 

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Trials Evolution was very aptly named thanks to the huge leap forward it represented for the franchise. It no doubt paved the way for the further two sequels – Trials Fusion and Trials Rising – but remains a game that is immensely playable. Trials Evolution is still one of the finest examples of a modern arcade game out there today.

Trials Evolution has an Xbox Store page, but purchasing it is now impossible. Making do with Fusion and Rising should be the way to get your Trials fix now.

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