Trials Evolution is the ultimate Xbox Live Arcade game. It's mastered over dozens of hours, but controls with two buttons - the left stick balances your rider and the right trigger revs.
Your aim? To shift, bunny hop and throttle through fiendishly fantastic gauntlets made infinitely more exciting thanks to utterly inspired design and doubly inspired handling. Developers RedLynx hasn't changed the physics a jolt since their 2009 two million-seller Trials HD, and thank god for that because it's technically perfect. Like real life, there's no jump button; getting airborne is a case of rider positioning, momentum and trajectory. Every action - rock, bounce or subtle shift of weight - has an equal and opposite reaction. It's a game of infinite precision.
Remember that as you tear through 57 tracks ranging from countryside rides- nothing more taxing than a few steep hills - to wooden roller coasters a mile up, a constantly rotating vertiginous playground and collapsing scaffolding that spirals up an ancient castle. There's a nod to LIMBO, black and white and sharp with saw blades (a few of its gravity shifting puzzles prove an inspiration), and a baseball field where a massive bat smashes you for a home run. Some last 20 seconds, some 20 minutes, day turning to dusk while you play. RedLynx have found their creative vein and pumped it full of Red Bull.
Wily new ways to main you aside, there's good news for players who in the last game smacked their heads on a harsh 'pro's only' barrier. Evolution's entirely less punishing than before, except for about ten later levels designed for veterans (abandon hope - Inferno returns). Players not after cunningly hard platinum medals will crash a lot less, making rides only as frustrating as you want them to be. It's impossible to survive, however, the climax of every course, cartoonish post-track impacts a cathartic surprise after almost unbearable tension. One 'bike-tality' sucks you down a pipe and pumps you ass-down on a bathroom stall, while another locks on via periscope and fires two torpedoes your way. It's nice to know that despite complex design, nothing is taken too seriously.
Routes can run parallel to the screen or veer between foreground and back, but they're locked to a 2D plane; you never have to worry about turns, cornering or optimum apexes. It can sometimes confuse, one track seemingly set on a collision course with a bevy of exploding barrels only to pull up inches before, but the change is a natural evolution, entirely more unpredictable and liberated than Trials HD but still a setting an ever-present goal to the right, just past the flaming tyre pits and electrified fences. There is a little niggle, however, in the way your rider doesn't lean when turning. Once spotted it's hard to ignore.