Trials Evolution: Gold Edition in the test - fire and flame
Bikes, speed and fat explosions - one thing is clear: The Trials Evolution: Gold Edition is a darn male game. After the first attempts at driving over shaky wooden planks and tipped containers, we become aware of something else: Without much skill we won't get very far here.
If you pull the gas tap of your motorcycle in the skill racing game of the Finnish developer Redlynx by force, you won't win a flowerpot. Instead, skilful weight shifting and metered use of gas and brake are required. This is the only way we can overcome the many obstacles that pile up between us and the finish line and end up seeing a new best time on the clock.
By the way, Trials was originally a browser game whose great-grandson Trials HD was released on Xbox LIVE and celebrated huge successes there. The successor Trials Evolution was initially also only released for Xbox LIVE and has now been ported to the PC as a »Gold Edition«. All content from both Xbox 360 titles is included.
Sit on, drive off, fly off
Unlike in conventional racing games, we do not compete against direct competitors in trials, but instead, as in Trackmania , we fight with the clock. And with the great physics engine, because it is the one that always snips us and our driver to the ground when we overcome the junk. The physics engine is consistently credible and understandable. Only in very rare cases did our driver get off the saddle through no fault of his own after hard landings.
Whenever this happens, we only have the option to restart the route or to reset to the last checkpoint at the push of a button. Fortunately, the reset points are numerous and very fairly placed. Most of the time we start just a few meters from the obstacle at which our driver was painfully acquainted with the asphalt and can therefore make a new attempt directly.
Our best time should then be gone, but the first drive on a new slope is mainly about somehow reaching the goal. For that, Trials Evolution gives us a bronze medal. If you want to call silver or even gold precious metal your own, you have to master the route and the motorcycle perfectly and have to overcome the courses quickly and (almost) flawlessly. Our friends can then view the successful journey as a ghost and then duel indirectly with us.
We learn how to use our machine correctly on the first, still very easy routes. But the more slopes we unlock by collecting medals, the crisper it gets. In order to survive the most difficult courses, we have to have all the tricks up our sleeve, from jumping from a standing position to a controlled backflip. Trials Evolution teaches us this in four tutorials disguised as license exams, upon completion of which we also unlock a new two-wheeler. There is more to learn in the online leaderboards. We can watch the repetitions of the record drives of others at any time at the push of a button. Even the keys pressed are displayed.
Despite good help and a pleasantly increasing learning curve, bikers without a gamepad with analog shoulder buttons will eventually reach their limits. Trials Evolution can also be wonderfully controlled with the keyboard, but with the tricky combinations of jumps and steep climbs that await us in the later levels, we have to dose the throttle precisely to avoid involuntary somersaults.
UFOs and editors
On the other hand, we should do voluntary somersaults in one of the challenges of Trials Evolution - with skis on our feet. If you only have question marks in your head, you will feel exactly like us when we hit the slopes for the first time. Or take a seat in a UFO. Or swing us from trapeze to trapeze like ape. The completely wacky ideas with which the developer Redlynx bombarded us provide plenty of fun and variety from everyday racing.
The ideas also demonstrate the possibilities of the included route editor. With that you can not only create simple junk slopes, but also game variants that have little in common with the original trials. Although the editor is offered in a beginner and professional version, the operation of the powerful modular system requires some training. It is all the more incomprehensible that, apart from a few basic tooltips, the game does not offer a comprehensive tutorial. At least the developers have published some video instructions on YouTube, which we can access via a link in the menu. We load courses created by the community directly into our game from the route center. This ensures long-term fun even if we already know the 129 levels of the game better than the way from bed to toilet.
Cool guys don't look at explosions
But boredom does not come up so quickly even without self-made slopes. In addition to the bizarre challenges, this is ensured by the varied and spectacularly staged courses. Right now we are driving "comfortably" over a few ramps, when our biker is suddenly ablaze after jumping through a ring of fire and races through a loop at an insane speed. Another time, we are completely surprisingly catapulted through the air like a pinball ball and try desperately to find our balance again.
The environment is also trying hard to get us out of the concept: baseballs and saw blades fly across the screen and fat explosions shake the route. After crossing the finish line, we almost always experience a funny and our driver a painful surprise. Be it a catapult that shoots the poor guy across the map or an unfavorably placed electric fence - we definitely have fun.
We also have fun in Trials Evolution's multiplayer. Whether with three friends on a PC or via online matchmaking, the direct duel on the Supercross courses ensures storms of excitement and cheating orgies. The Trials mode, in which we fight with other players on a course for the best time, is also a lot of fun. At the moment, however, the online game is still suffering from lengthy search for players and crashes. Redlynx urgently needs to make improvements here.
Trials Evolution also reveals some (porting) quirks technically. Many players, for example, complain about blatant frame rate drops, despite the powerful hardware. In any case, the game surprises with high hardware requirements given the simple backdrop. In particular, the weak textures and effects should only cause a bored yawn instead of a hesitant cough in mid-range computers. Nevertheless, after a reset, we clearly see how textures have to be reloaded - that shouldn't be. The racing game is atmospheric thanks to the different lighting moods, the already mentioned creative surroundings and good background music.