It's time to dust off those biker helmets and test those balancing skills; Redlynx's new addition to the Trials series has just hit Xbox Live Arcade and in a big way. Now with custom content and an added "Skill Mode", Trials HD has become one very jam packed adventure compared to its online predecessors.
The Trials games are single player racing/stunt games, which use only motorcycles. This Xbox Live Arcade version has more to offer compared to the old internet game as instead of having just one mode, this game comes with two: Racing and Skill mode. Racing mode is much like Trials, the original online game as the object of the Racing mode is to complete each track within a set time limit. With every track passed, a medal (bronze, silver, or gold) is awarded allowing players to continue on to the next level. Completing each track also unlocks more content such as new bikes, new tracks, and new tournaments. Though this task seems easy enough for those not familiar with the series, they're in for quite a surprise.
Along with the occasional steep hill to speed over, there are also tanks of gasoline blocking the trail to success. Upon touching one of these tanks, the character will immediately be burnt to a crisp and sent flying through the air. After being torn to smithereens, the player is given the option of restarting the whole track or returning to a check point. Thankfully, each track has tons of checkpoints sprawled throughout. The only problem with the check point system is that a few valuable seconds are lost, which could knock down the players finishing position.
The second mode introduced in Trials HD is "Skill Mode". The player is now able to choose from a variety of mini-games and success is measured by far the player can get. Each mini-game's difficulty is determined by what bike is chosen. One mini-game, inside the ball, tests how well a player is able to keep their rider on his bike, while riding inside a massive steel ball. While these are very fun, they're pretty difficult to complete due to the various obstacles and over sensitive directional buttons. Most of them also don't use check points. Skill mode is really what makes buying this game worth it, considering that this is one of the only features primarily for Trials HD.
There are many different ways to ride each track in Trials HD which gives this game a great replayibility level. It's very easy to get addicted to, as there is the thrill of unlocking gold medals, as well as the achievements and upgrades. As for Trial HD's soundtrack, it's pretty boring. This is quite surprising, as with a game like this, a certain type of music is expected, i.e. AC/DC. Unfortunately, the player is greeted with a techno/rock mix that loops on each track. This is an Xbox Live Arcade game, but even an AC/DC cover band would've sufficed; anything to cover up the sounds of a motorcycle engine. One of the most interesting things about this game's sound design is that each bike has a different engine sound. Where the beginner bike is loud and obnoxious, the more upgraded bikes have softer less noticeable engines. It seems the creators did their research.
With this being said, the graphics really make up for what the sound doesn't. The environment and everything within it is noticeably smooth and the level of rust and grime painted throughout the tracks definitely set the mood for the game.
Aside from the preset environments, a rather impressive upgrade in Trials HD is the track creator. Yes, in this game it's possible to create tracks, which can be shared with Xbox Live friends. With this, it's possible to set boundaries, hills, explosives, and even the time of day the track takes place in. Also, it's possible to customize characters and the bikes. Even though, character customization is pretty limited, these features are really impressive for an Xbox Live Arcade game.
With all the good things about this game, there are however some things to consider. This game is pretty difficult for people who aren't used to stunt games and players may find themselves becoming more and more frustrated with the controls. Also, while the customization feature is impressive, it can be quite tedious. Be sure to put aside at least two hours to make a successful working track.
With all negatives aside, this game is definitely one to check out. It's a clear step forward in the Xbox Live Arcade industry and it's great to have when competing against online friends. Just be sure to have a few band-aids ready since those gasoline tanks can be quite troublesome.