27 Reviews

Trials HD

Let's get physical

There's a certain level of acceptable simplicity associated with Xbox Live Arcade games. But Trials HD totally breaks that mould. This is no simple, bite-sized package.

What's so brilliant about Trials is its outer simplicity. It's a 2D game where your only mission is to get your motorbike to the end of an obstacle course.

You accelerate with the right trigger, stop with the left and push the analogue stick left and right to control the balance and rotation of your bike.

As long as your wheels make contact with hard surfaces, and not your head, you're good. Earlier levels let you flick off some big ramps, landing comfortably on smooth surfaces while you just nail the throttle and enjoy the ride.

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But it's when the later levels start throwing more complex obstacles at you that the game gets interestingly intense. It becomes less about rotating your bike so the wheels are facing the ground and more about managing the game's intricate physics.

That's when you'll have to start leaning to keep your wheels on the ground as you rumble over tyres and barrels. Or tickling the accelerator nervously as you try to climb a steep incline without falling backwards. Or trying to get just the right amount of speed off a jump so as to not land too far or too short of the designated area.

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The more you play the more you learn the intricacies of controlling the bike's suspension, to the point where you can even maintain your grip effectively on bumpy surfaces, or use a subtle bounce to spring that extra inch needed to reach the next platform.

It soon gets incredibly hard, but this is a physics playground that's so much fun to play in regardless of whether you're winning or losing.

Retrying a level upwards of 50 times won't be uncommon, but you're always so close to getting over that box, or reaching the top of that hill, that you'll keep retrying until your fingers get stiff.

For that alone, we'd tell you to buy the 1200 MS point game. But Trials cements its value with a wicked Skill Games mode. Like the mini games in Flat Out, this mode has fun with the game's physics, containing a bunch of challenges like leaping the farthest, climbing the highest up a hill, doing the longest wheelies or surviving the longest riding inside a giant steel ball as it tumbles down a hill. It's brilliant pass-the-pad fodder.

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In one mission you have to tow a trailer containing two bombs as quickly but, impossibly, as smoothly as possible.

Add to that a pretty powerful course editor that lets you create your own levels or mini games, and then upload them for others. If this game's as popular as it deserves to be, there'll be hundreds of brilliant user-made levels on offer within a couple of months.

Trials HD can be frustrating when some of the harder levels contain obstacles as simple as a box that's just too bloody big to leap, and eventually getting over it is more a case of luck rather than clearly defined tactics, and a split screen/online two-player race mode (we're thinking Sonic the Hedgehog-style) is sadly missed.

You may even put a minus point on the fact that this is essentially nothing new - we've been playing Elasto Mania since the early '90s. But Trials turns the old formula into something instantly current-gen with great physics. Trials HD is the best XBLA game of this year so far. Buy it.

The verdict

Amazing physics playground with totally engrossing gameplay.

  • Devilishly moreish
  • Impressive physics
  • Big - 50+ levels, editor, mini games
  • No versus multiplayer
  • Some frustrating obstacles
  • Stiff fingers
9
Format
Xbox Live Arcade
Developer
Unknown
Publisher
Microsoft
Genre
Racing / Driving, Platformer

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