Overall Score 86%
RedLynx Trials2 Second Edition
Long time readers might remember one of Hayden's reviews from back in May 2006 for a game called Motorama. RedLynx Trials2 Second Edition (a rather unwieldy title for a game which I will refer to as Trials2) reminds me very much of Motorama. The review for Motorama can be read at http://www.bytten.com/gamereview.php?id=170 (sorry, you'll have to copy and paste that). Most of the points that Hayden makes for Motorama are spot on the money in regards to Trials2, and if you really enjoyed the former, then it's a no brainer that you're going to love this week's review game.
Trials2 takes many of the gameplay elements of Motorama and adds a lavish layer of polish. To summerise; the player controls a trail-bike through an obstacle course in as short a time as possible. The game world is rendered in an attractive and thematic 3-D environment, with customisable camera angles available to showcase the impressive attention to detail which includes dynamic lighting and associated shadows, motion blur, smoke and particle effects throughout the courses. Courses appear to have been constructed in a giant warehouse and utilise many different materials such as crates, concrete pipes, wooden planks and traffic cones, not to mention the obligatory burning 44-gallon drums that always seem to pop up in these kind of games.
Now interestingly, the courses appear at first glance to provide a real 3-D challenge to the gamer, yet the action is decidedly 2-D in nature. There are only 4 keys needed to play the game; 2 to control the acceleration and braking on the bike and 2 to control the riders position on it. By utilising the shifting centre of balance in conjunction with clever acceleration and braking, the player negotiates the courses and strives to set a record time. An integrated connection to a server allows players to compete against other rider's times from all over the world, and it's even possible to download a replay of any particular rider's record and compete against it head-to-head, although I could find no way of actually challenging anyone in real time.
As courses are completed, new ones are unlocked, and soon the player will find that they have ample variation in challenge with a course to test every skill. There are long wheelie challenges, to massive jumps and tricky technical sections. The difficulty level on the first few levels is very easy, but I seemed to have a lot of trouble on most of the "hard" rated courses and above. In fact the fun factor dissipated fairly quickly at about this point in my playthrough as multiple resets were required just to stumble my way through some of the trickier tracks. The resets are painless enough, being instantaneous, but having to ride the same bit of track 50 or more times trying minute differences in control input just to clear a jump, for example, began to grate on me after a while. There is no level editor included, and this works against the longevity of the title as well.
Some of the highlights of Trials2 come when things go horribly wrong. Miss a high speed jump by a few centimetres and see your bike hit a concrete slab launching your now pitifully helpless ragdoll rider through the air, smacking into a steel girder and flailing wildly down into a pile of crates where he writhes and screams as the broken bone counter clicks over onto the hundreds. There is no dismemberment or gore, and the focus seems to be more upon comical exaggeration than anything else. Hey, a few seconds later he's back on the bike to have another crack at the seemingly impossible task so how badly could he have really been hurt in any case?
The physics are generally excellent, and I discovered only a couple of small glitches. Sometimes after the rider fell from the bike, it would start spinning slowly at first - but become faster and faster like an ice-skater pulling in her arms in a pirouette, until it became a whirling dervish of metal and headlights. Often too the bike would get bent over itself and contorted into impossible shapes but since neither of these are game breaking and both are quite funny to observe, I'm not going to go too hard on what is otherwise a brilliant model.
The graphics when set to high are on par with the best I have seen in an indie game. You will need a high end PC to run the best settings with a fluid framerate. On my desktop PC with a GeForce7800GS (over a year old) I was getting some annoying stutters on the highest settings, and had to make some compromises. But even on my lowly laptop with an integrated GPU, the game was able to be scaled so that it still looked attractive at a very smooth framerate. The sound effects are very well synchronised to the gameplay, especially the engine noise of the bike, and are of excellent quality as well. I find it very difficult to fault the presentation of the game in any way.
I think that there is a certain type of player that will be attracted to Trials2. Surprisingly, it can be played in small sessions and appeals as a casual game a lot more than it might be given credit for at first glance. This is probably it's biggest weakness as well, with a lack of real depth to the gameplay being the major reason that it doesn't attract me as a gamer past the initial glee of experimentation, and setting a few records on tracks that I found fun.
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