One of the most beloved Xbox Live Arcade titles, Trials HD combined beautiful visuals, intricate physics and imaginative levels into one fantastic package.
For the uninitiated, Trials places you on a stunt motorbike, tasked with completing various levels. But there's more to the game than that.
Trials HD also had a varied difficulty level, with earlier levels being basic, while the latter levels would have you tearing your hair out. And then you'd try again and again and again and again...
So it was with great fanfare that Trials Evolution was announced, promising to improve upon the formula that made its predecessor so addictive.
Right away, you can tell that Red Lynx Studios have been grinding away, with some polished visuals greeting players. Lighting effects - already well realised in Trials HD – are vastly improved, with fires and the sun all bathing the levels in light. The game also runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second, no mean feat considering how good it looks.
The levels themselves have also been improved, with the stages being larger and more elaborate. And in a departure from its predecessor, the levels are winding as well (although you still pretty much ride on a single plane).
The level design is unarguably the star of the show once again, starting out easily enough. Here, you'll encounter a tricky section now and again, but it's nothing that you can't negotiate without a retry or two.
Then as you work your way up to medium, hard and other difficulty levels, you'll simply be trying to survive. And there'll be countless times where you crash and burn, vanish into an inky black abyss or get absolutely destroyed in a single level.
But the game has that intangible "just one more go" nature to it, so as soon as you've completed that frustrating level, you'll be gnashing your teeth at the next level.
Half the fun is also in competing with friends, with players able to ride alongside their friends in a manner akin to motocross racing. This can be done in local as well as online multiplayer, giving party gamers some incentive to grab it.
However, the game also includes real-time ghosts of your friends' laps, motivating players to retry stages and hit the top of the leaderboards. It's a simple feature but one that adds so much to the game's longevity.
A worthwhile investment
When you've climbed the mountain and completed all the stages, you can create your own tracks as well as download them. It's a fantastic feature, with players already creating a first-person shooter, Trials HD levels and stages inspired by other games.
The skill-games are another interesting diversion, charging players with doing things like knocking down bowling pins. The fact that players can create completely new skill games is another feather in its cap.
Trials Evolution is indeed an evolution, taking everything we loved about Trials HD and expanding upon it, thanks to a powerful level editor, local multiplayer and addictive gameplay. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a strong contender for downloadable game of the year, if not game of the year.
Score: 9.3 out of 10