Review – Trials HD
I hope you haven’t made any plans to play anything else for a while.
It’s that uncomfortable 1200M$P price point again. Sure, a game might actually be worth a tenner but given how many times Microsoft have ripped us off with that price point, a lot of people are reluctant to support it (not to mention that the most popular 1200M$P game Castle Crashers, despite the mass-hysteria that surrounds it, is shit). Well get ready to lessen the grip on your consumer rights as you need to buy this game.
In terms of genre, we’ve not seen this game type for a little while. It’s a side-scrolling motorbike scrambling game that sees your rider navigating a series of obstacles, ramps, jumps and loops against a time-limit. These games turn up on the PC occasionally (this is a port of Trials 2 on the PC in fact) but I’ve not seen that many of them on the proper consoles and the last one to significantly take up any of my time was Super Scramble Simulator on the Spectrum.
Thankfully Trials HD is a terrific game. The controls (accelerate, brake and rotate your rider by shifting weight with the left stick) are intuitive and responsive which makes learning this game a breeze and once you’ve beaten the gold time on a course you’ll still go back in order to shave microseconds off of your time by adjusting your landings by a few degrees. Geometry Wars 2-styled leaderboards mean that you’re always aware of how well your friends have done on each track and you can even view their replays (or any of the players on Live) in order to see how best to improve your times.
The levels start off easy enough and you won’t be struggling to get your gold medals until the middle tier of levels (there are five tiers). The level design is spot on though and the first half of this game should be accessible to gamers of any skill level. Once you get into the Hard and Extreme tiers, things get a little more desperate. If you aren’t sobbing by the time you beat some of those levels you’ll probably be full on crying. Probably blood as your tears will have all been used up. The last tier in particular can go fuck itself be a tad severe at all times.
The thing is, people have beaten those levels. It can be done and to dumb the top tier of this game down to suit losers like me wouldn’t have been right and besides, you don’t have to gold medal them for any achievements (although one achievement on this game – to beat 24 courses in one go without crashing once – seems borderline impossible, a classic developer’s cunt’s trick), so they are just there if you want to prove yourself. Also, even at their worst they don’t feel quite as horrendously anal and fussy as N+, so that’s a bonus.
This game was a genuine surprise to me as I had no idea it was even coming out until they released a trailer one week before release and as soon as I saw it I knew I was probably going to buy it. I loved playing these puzzle/motocross games from when I was a kid.
Never mind all that though, is Trails HD worth the 1200 (£10) that they developers are asking for it? Well the short answer is yes. The fact that this game plays like no other on the console says volumes. There is also plenty of stuff to keep you amused like a level editor which you can share your creations with your friends and bonus mini games which remind me of Flatout’s ones, which is awesome.
People may scoff at Trails HD for not having simultaneous online multiplayer or that the game get’s maybe a little to hard towards the end but you know what, who cares? Quite frankly when you go in to Trails HD you know you’re buying a mainly score board based time trail game which may sound boring but trust me check out the demo, you’ll be compelled to keep playing and, yes, Trails HD does have the content to back up the price tag.
Secondary Score: 9/10
Presentation is top notch throughout with the game being presented in the same 3D-on-a-2D-plane style as Street Fighter IV. It looks particularly swish and is probably the nicest looking game on XBLA (although Rez might edge it). That said, the camera can occasionally let you down when you are trying to land a jump but this becomes less of an issue once you learn the courses (and you will have to learn them if you want to beat them convincingly). The pyrotechnics in the game can also obscure the action a little.
Aside from the main game, you also get twelve mini-games that have you doing all manner of odd things such as bailing out over staircases, riding giant steel balls, flying through firey hoops and a bunch of other things that feel more or less like silly flash games but can be every bit as addicting as the main game. A nifty little track editor completes the package and, once we’ve all grown tired of the fifty or so official maps, I’m sure that mode will see a lot of action. Especially as it lets you share your creations.
A few dissenters may complain about a lack of multiplayer races but Trials just isn’t that kind of girl. It’s all about the times and, by association, the leaderboards.
What you’ve got is probably the most addictive XBLA game since Geometry Wars 2 and one that’ll keep you playing way past the point where the 1200M$P has been justified so buy yourself some Microsoft Magic Money ™, download the full Trials game and we’ll get back to the boycott on the next overpriced piece of shit that Microsoft put on the Marketplace.