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Review: Trials Rising (Xbox One X)

8

Great

Trials is the one series that gives bike games the respect they deserve. Its over-the-top antics have been a hit for many a year now, but it nearly went a bit wayward when it lost sight of what originally made it such a fantastic series. As with the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, an over-abundance of humour got in the way of a great game. Thankfully Redlynx caught on to this quite quickly. There’s still more than enough humour for you to enjoy, but it’s the hardcore Trials game fans deserve.

Trials Rising is the first main entry into the series since 2014. Gone are the annoying on-foot sections you might have experienced in Trials of the Blood Dragon, which was a spin-off, and in its place is a game that has your bum back on a bike seat, where it should be. The focus, as with all Trials games, is to simply get your bike across the finish line by getting a good understanding of the physics at hand. All you’ll ever use is a gas and brake trigger, tied in with leaning left and right. That’s it. It’s that simplicity that makes it such a demanding exercise in perseverance. The good news is that, for the first time, newcomers can take part in the University of Trials where you can learn the demanding techniques to master the game. You might even need it if you’re a veteran, because things get real tough.

Practice makes perfect

At first you’ll learn the basics and later you’re taught that being slower actually makes you faster – I know it’s hard to grasp, but believe me, it’s true. Getting air looks amazing, but it eats into the valuable seconds. Incline gas and brake controls are explained in detail and before you know it you’re climbing up vertical obstacles and bunny hopping gaps. It takes hours and hours to master, but once mastered there is no turning back. You’re hooked. Your first entry into Trials Rising will take place in the USA Rookie league on the world map. If you’re new to the series even these first few levels will pose a challenge. Reach the required level number and it’ll unlock a stadium event where you race in three heats against AI opponents in a multi-lane contest. Win it and a new league (nine in total) will open up around the world to offer you new and more demanding challenges. Ultimately you’ll get to a point where your XP has not reached the required level to get access to the stadium finals and this is when you’ll turn your attention to the new contracts on offer.

Just when you think you’ve seen the toughest the game has to offer it’ll push the goal posts a bit further.

Sponsors, like KTM and Red Bull, appear in the form of contracts. These contracts are in essence challenges on levels you’ve already completed and there can be more than one contract per level. These are also divided up into easy, medium, hard and extreme difficulty. The easy contracts might ask you to complete a level using a certain bike or beating it in a certain time. Move up in difficulty and you’ll be tasked at pulling off front flips, back flips, wheelies and even completing a stage without ever leaning on your bike at all within a certain time limit or by beating an opponent. It requires intense precision where you’re constantly tapping the ‘reset’ or ‘checkpoint’ buttons for another instant quick go. Problem is that when you do reset your bike it adds five seconds to your time, so it’s best you git gud. Just when you think you’ve seen the toughest the game has to offer it’ll push the goal posts a bit further. Doing all this has its rewards and you’ll gain huge amounts of XP for doing contracts and you’ll also unlock some real cool goodies to customise your bike and character.

Sign your death insurance here

Each contract you complete will reward you with Trials Coins (the game’s currency) as well as stickers, clothing and bike parts to upgrade your bike and character. It’s a first for the series and follows the trend of so many other games in that your biker and bike can be customised with common, epic and legendary items. Some of these items can only be bought using acorns that can be discovered in as in-game collectibles, in Global Multiplayer Seasons or… with real-world money. At least you’re not forced to do so. Whenever you do reach a new level you’ll be rewarded with a gear crate (lootbox) with three random items inside it. Should you get duplicates you can at least sell it for Trials Coins. These coins can be used to buy other items as well as other bikes. I had some fun tampering with the design of my bike and character, but it’s definitely not where the fun in the game lies. The real fun comes in the form of the online challenge.

Expect lots of laughs as well as screaming and shouting at your partner for being a goof in tandem mode

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there aren’t that many players online and I could never find anyone to join me in a lobby (that’ll change when the game launches), but the various ghosts of friends and strangers were there to challenge me. As with previous games there is no challenge like that of other human beings and the ghosts still make it an entertaining spectacle. Beating the time of your friend and topping the leaderboard is a satisfying result. There is, however, a new multiplayer kid on the block that comes in the form of the tandem bike. You and another player, online or offline, can join forces to tackle a stage on the same bike. It’s as bonkers as it sounds. You’ll find yourself constantly over-correcting your bike to make up for your partner’s mistake. You might think a backflip is a good idea off the next ramp, but your partner thinks a frontflip will work better and as a result, it all comes crashing down, literally. Expect lots of laughs as well as screaming and shouting at your partner for being a goof in tandem mode. It’s easily one of the coolest new additions to the series and one I hope they keep for future releases.

One unfortunate aspect is that the game comes without any HDR support. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a nice-to-have for those with televisions that support it. Overall it’s quite the graphical showcase for the series. One moment you’re leaping the Great Wall of China and the next your aboard an airplane and dealing with gravity-based physics issues. Each theme looks incredible, though you’re often too focused to notice everything taking place in the background. The track editor makes a return and is fun to use, but where the real fun will lie is in downloading those the tracks that have been created by people with a creative eye. I should also point out that I really enjoyed the soundtrack. It felt very ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’ of old.

Trials Rising is a joy to play. Each level will tease you into pushing your limits and you’ll never blame anyone but yourself for being a bit greedy and making a mistake. However, don’t expect it to be kind. If you don’t put in the hours for its intricate controls you’re in for a rude awakening. Persevere and, like this game, you’ll rise to the top.

Good

  • Contracts challenges are awesome
  • Tandem mode
  • Catchy music

Bad

  • Acorns can cost real-world money (it's not compulsory)
  • No HDR

Summary

Trials Rising is a return to form for this classic physics-based bike game. Tandem brings a whole new element to multiplayer fun and contracts extends the challenges in the campaign to make this one game fans should not miss out on.
8

Great

Married to a gamer and she kicks my ass at most shooters. If the game is enjoyable I'll play it, no matter the format.

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