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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Trials Evolution (Xbox 360)
So Trials HD.  My favourite game on the Xbox for a looong time.  Years.  Whenever I wasn't playing Hydro Thunder, it was Trials. 

And Evolution just came out.  Red Lynx obviously had more money, there's lots and lots more of everything.

It's $24 AUD (about $25 USD).  (In Australia, 3000 MS Points is $60.)  That's not cheap, but fuck yeah, it's Trials.  I bought it without hesitation.

Short Review: It's Trials, but more of it.

Long Review: It's everything that pisses me off about modern games.

First, I received an Achievement for completing the tutorial level.  The level which you cannot fail rewarded me for doing something unavoidable.  This is bullshit, I haven't even started the first real stage and I'm already super pissed off.

And the tutorial stage is insulting.  Press A to go!  Press Left to lean back!  Press right to lean forward!  At every checkpoint the game stops, resets your bike, and you get to try out one specific feature for one short segment of track.  Basically, you have to complete this tutorial stage, or one just like it, every time you get a new bike. 

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/games/Trials-2.jpg]
There's way, way more airtime in this game than the previous one.

Other reviews are remarking on the new, friendlier learning curve, but when the third tutorial is going through great pains to explain things I learned the hard way in the first game, I feel like they're tearing the magic out and replacing it with a scripted guide to success.  I don't know about you, but I like discovering things, and I like feeling like the King of the Goddamned World when I figure something out the first time.  Being told how to ride a loop is insulting.

And you aren't just given new bikes, you have to earn them with medals.  Collect enough medals, qualify for a tutorial stage, play the damned tutorial, and get the new bike.  Why did this become a collect-em-up rewards game?  What fucking idiot thought "Hey, being a brilliant sequel to a brilliant game isn't enough!  Let's heap shit on it until it's no fun anymore!"  I'm jumping through hoops to play a game which occasionally makes me jump through hoops.  (You see what I did there?)

The new stages are not always straight, they curve into the distance, which is kind of cool but makes judging the next part of the track more difficult 'cause you can't always tell where you'll land, and - although I get that this is a video game - having your bike slowly turn in mid-air to follow the course is unrealistic and breaks the immersion pretty strongly.  It's worse on tracks with several parallel tracks 'cause it forces you to play the level a few times just to work out where you'll land after a jump.  That is just not the simple Trials I love, that's a fundamental design flaw. 

Or not.  I mean, what are they trying to achieve - do they want me to learn shit on my own King of the World style, or are they going to tell me in advance everything I need to know?  'Cause the curves and the tutorials achieve different things.

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/games/Trials-1.jpg]
This is the track, stretching away into the distance.  This rider will turn in mid air to follow the track.  Where will he land, exactly?

There are huge new drops and cool new background events like swooping jets on bombing runs and helicopters and other shit which doesn't make the game any less fun but probably goes some way to explaining the new longer load times...

And the textures res-up when the levels start, so for a moment it's a very vague presentation and blip by blip the graphics get better and sharper and then you're away...  Are we still doing this?  You know it's OK to wait that extra second and do it right the first time, I don't need to see the world snap into shape every time the level re-starts.

And I won an avatar shirt for completing the tutorial.  I think I win clothes all the time.  Or maybe money, which I can spend in the garage to make my fucking avatar look more unique like every other fucking dumbshit playing this game and winning the same fucking things for completing levels that can't be failed without removing your hands from the controller.  Honestly I don't know what's going on, I skip this shit 'cause it's not why I'm here.  Every stage ends with a TL;DR experience.

There's a ton of tiny text after every stage telling me how much non-game extraneous bullshit I've accumulated and I wish I could turn it the fuck off, 'cause I'm here to balance a motorbike on a railing, not play dolls and indulge my obsessive compulsive collection disorder.

Attention Red Lynx: I do not want to kit out my racer like a fucking barbie doll.  I do not.  Do not want.  How much time did you waste creating this shit?  Who's your target audience here?  Does anyone want to do this?

TL;DR - fucking great game seriously wounded by the baggage of what I can only imagine are the demands of men in suits making checkmarks on a list of bullshit must-have bullet points for the press release.

Fuck's sake.

Oh, and the wheels never actually touch the ground.  There's always a gap between wheel and shadow.  Seems like a pretty basic error.  =(

And, on one stage, I was shot across a massive gully, as if from a cannon, and the game saw fit to spin me, slow the spins, and land me safely.  Is this Final Fantasy?  I'm playing a game here, stop taking the control away from me.
BLEARGH
This post was edited on 2012-04-19, 09:32 by NFG.
Edit reason: Added a bunch of extra stuff.  Removed some stuff.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/games/Trials-3.jpg]

Haha!

I should point out that, after a half hour of playtime, I do think Trials Evolution is excellent, despite what I assume are Ubisoft's best efforts to fuck it up the ass.
BLEARGH
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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It's a great game, I can tell 'cause I've turned my 360 on for more than an hour this month (3 hours and counting for Trials Evolution - it tells me).  Also, my thumb is sore.

But for all its refinement, there are some pretty basic things overlooked.  Like the tire not touching the ground...  Doesn't happen all the time, but it happens a lot, and it's distracting.

[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/games/Trials-4.jpg]
The tires don't touch the ground.  They hover above their own shadow.  It's weird and distracting.

Like the way certain parts of the stage seem to shear or de-res, every time you play through.  There's one container you jump over and the whole screen shimmies, every time.  This happens in several stages, reliably.

Like the way gravity seems to change when the camera angle adjusts itself.  There are several places where I am quite convinced I have enough momentum to make a gap, and I position my bike accordingly, only to have to re-adjust 'cause the game seems to slow me down and pull my bike backwards.

Like the way the camera and bike turning in mid air shows you what seems to be your landing point, along with two sets of tire tracks from previous riders, forcing you to guess which ones you're going to land on...  Only to have you land in the middle where there are no tracks.  On hilly levels this is unforgivable, 'cause you just can't tell how high you are or where you'll land.
BLEARGH
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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So once the shock of all the bullshit wears off, what's left is a game that easily allows you to completely ignore the extraneous rubbish and focus on the core experience.

Which is, of course, being completely awesome.

Trials Evolution is great.

And, for what it's worth, I had someone ask Redlynx about the rubbish that so outraged me, and they said Ubisoft had no say about what they put into the new game.  So all that money-making wardrobe-buying achievement-for-starting-a-level bullshit was all their own idea.

Presumably the bike floating an inch off the ground was too.  ;)
BLEARGH
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