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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Trials HD (XBLA)

The Trials series has been going strong on the PC for years, but the best entry in the series has blasted itself on the XBOX Live Marketplace. Trials HD takes the winning formula of the previous titles and refines everything to near perfection and the end result lands Trials HD as one of the best downloadable titles on the Marketplace.

The Stig... with fashion sense (of a kind)

So what exactly is Trials? It’s a 2D physics based motorcycle game that instead of offering racing, it offers a unique style of platforming. Climbing insanely steep hills, jumping gaps and navigating the multitude of obstacles the game throws at you is just the beginning of where the fun starts. A simplistic control scheme where the triggers brake and accelerate and the joystick leans the rider might seem they would fit a simplistic type of game, but don’t be fooled here. Trials HD is tough as nails, and that is just how we like it too.
The main goal of the game is to complete the levels, and while that might not sound like much, it is.

While navigating the levels the riders weight must be kept in check at all times, and while at first it’s just leaning forward/back to keep balance on hills, soon afterwards perfect landings from jumps become a must to retain speed to clear the next jump immediately afterwards, and explosives are placed in hard to miss areas. The obstacles become harder to overcome and strategizing the next obstacle ahead becomes a key factor. The tracks a perfectly designed with different variables, such as fast action oriented tracks with massive jumps, while others are much slower paced and far more technical. While the tracks are tough the precise controls are spot-on and deliver on every front, and make navigating these difficult tracks possible.
Skate or Die.. but with bikes

While the tracks start out nice and simple at first, but the latter of the 50+ tracks will test the patience of even the most skilled gamers. Thankfully frequent checkpoints and instantaneous checkpoint loads keep the gameplay constantly moving. What may seem like an easy jump across a gap to an inclined ledge, actually takes precise shifting of the rider’s weight and throttle control. It takes practice and skill to complete the latter courses of the game and the sense of ones skills improving throughout the game is one of the biggest draws to the series – especially when returning to previous courses and breezing through parts of tracks that once seems impossible. Some will find the steep learning curve and even steeper difficulty spike frustrating, and we only recommend Trials HD to those of you who are looking for a challenge.
What makes the game so much fun is its replay value, and there is loads of it here. Simply crossing the finish line of a track will gain a bronze medal, but going for the silver, gold or platinum medals takes extreme precision and a quick pace while navigating the treacherous courses. If the 50+ tracks aren't enough then there is a deep level editor and two large DLC packs to keep the fun coming for hours on end. Top it off with a multitude of mini-games and online leader boards, and Trials HD offers a lot of game, but for much less than the cost of a full retail title.
This game is wheely good... I'll show myself to the door.

Trials HD has been packaged in a retail format along with two other great XBLA Marketplace titles Limbo and Splosion Man – both of which we will be soon reviewing – for a cheaper price than the initial download price of all three games if purchased separately. This 3-Pack will land all three XBLA games - minus DLC - for only $30, and is great for those with limited HD space.
While the Trials series has started itself nicely on the PC it has matured perfectly on XBOX in all its HD glory. Whether acquired digitally as a stand-alone title or part of the combo pack, Trials HD is a top tier title that is not to be missed out on by fans of the series.

-Christopher Ingram

Review: Trials HD (XBLA)
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