Trials HD is the latest in the line of physics based bike games of which many people have lost productivity at work on the Flash game counterparts. Trials HD follows the same basic principle, get your bike to the end of the stage in the fastest time with as few faults (crashes) as possible. It is a simple idea which anyone can pick up and play, but is hard to master.
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The game is set in a 3D world with a 2D platform style viewpoint. The graphics are detailed and the good use of lighting and explosions add to the atmosphere. Some level designs are played in near darkness with only the motorbike headlight to light up your path, it is among some of the best graphics seen in a Xbox Arcade Game. There are a few music tracks to listen to which include rock, drum and bass and breakbeat, there are not quite enough tracks and while they are good, it soon gets repetitive. Sound effects are OK, your motorbike engine with the occasional explosion can be heard, amusing voice overs for your rider are provided by Brandon Dicamillo and Rake Yohn of Jackass fame.
There are over 50 race stages to complete in order to win Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum medals. These are gained by completing the course within in a specified time frame and fault limit, you are allowed up to 30 minutes and 500 faults before you automatically fail the course. Throughout the course are checkpoints which are positioned usually before the next set of obstacles. These are a godsend as it allows you to attempt the obstacle without having to start from the beginning, by the time you reach the later levels you will be thanking these checkpoints as you retry a tricky part of the stage. It is this that really adds to the addictiveness of the game as it keeps you wanting to pass the obstacle only to be faced with another challenge 🙂
You begin on the beginner courses which introduce you to the basic handling of the motorbike with relatively straightforward level design. As you progress through the stages you are introduced to jumps and obstacles in which you you can level yourself by leaning backward or forwards with the joystick. The physics nature of the game means even the smallest bump in your journey can result in losing costly seconds on your time so learning how to do a good landing is vital. By the time you reach the Medium and Hard levels things get more interesting with some excellent technical level designs that require some thought on how to reach that seemingly impossible ledge from a platform no larger than your motorbike, through to hurtling around amazing loop the loop roller coaster style sections.
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Gaining gold medals on the Beginner, Easy and Medium courses unlocks 12 mini games ranging from a ski jump in which you must fly as far has possible, a ball balancing game which sees your rider balancing on a moving ball, an hill climb where you must get as high as possible up a steep slope and a ring of fire game where you must fly through as many fiery rings as possible. The mini games are well thought out and could almost be a seperate game to Trails HD, you can easily spend longer on these mini games than the races as you try to improve on your scores which you will try again and again and again!
If anyone on your friends list also owns the game, their times and scores are displayed on the race detail screen and during the game via a visual gauge. There is nothing more satisfying than beating a score especially when it is a friends score. But there is also nothing more annoying than loading the game and finding your friend has beat your time that you spent an hour the night before to get! It is this that will keep you going back to the race and improving on your score. If you get stuck for improving your time, and you probably will, you can check the global leaderboards and download a replay of the best players races to gain some useful tips to improve your time by even a hundredths of a second, it all adds up.
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It will take some time to get bored of the provided courses and mini games, but if you do or fancy a change there is a level editor built into the game. I have never been good with level editors as they are usually clunky to operate but I have to say that this one is excellent and is easy to use. You simply choose the object that you want to place from a menu, drag it to the position and that is it, it is really that easy! You are not just limited to races, you can make your own mini game trials using the predefined templates. As I said I am far from being a great level designer but I managed to build a fairly good course with ramps, loops, loads of explosions and a few tricky obstacles.
Once you have created a track you can share it with friends on your friends list. This is my only fault with the game as there is no centralised level sharing system which means you will have to find people to add to your friends list in order to download custom courses. To make things slightly worse, you are unable to share courses that have been downloaded from another friend, so if you want to play the same course against a friend you will need to add the original creator to your friends list. If you search around on the developers forums you can find many excellent custom built levels.
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The sheer addictiveness is what makes this game so great. Throughout the past week I have shown the game to several friends and it has been impossible to get them off. Whether they are racing or playing the mini games ‘One more go!’ was exclaimed by all as they tried to beat the time or get a few more metres on the ball balancing game. 1200 :MSPoints: sounds expensive but for the amount of content and the lifespan of the game it is worth every single point. The game is set to be one of the best Xbox Arcade games this year and is perfect for a quick pick up and play, but be warned, keep track of the time or you will be saying ‘One more go’ as you are late for your friends birthday celebrations (true story, sorry Steve!).
You can download the trial of Trials HD from the Marketplace here.0