I’m hardly a Trials master, so after a quick curry and a few beers I managed to rope in an old mate who’s much better at handling the bike. As this is just a DLC pack it’s not really appropriate to produce a full, considered review, but we thought it might be worth documenting our time with the game for anyone interested.
So, after the gigabyte download, we’re ready to go. Apologies for the slight ‘stream of conciousness’ approach, but it seemed most appropriate.
And kicking off, we’ve unlocked a new bike – the Gecko 520 – by doing nothing other than starting the game. It’s a pushbike, a cute blue one, and our little guy is cycling like a maniac, pedalling hell for leather against ridiculous carnival music. Lighter, more vulnerable, the Gecko sports the same physics but without an engine.
The fun house level – dubbed Cardinal of Rust – we’ve started in begins our adventure on a fairly gradual difficulty slope, at least in terms of Trials. This new DLC is actually a whole new location called Paine Island, and comes complete with its own set of levels, the bike mostly interchangeable from the off if you like your ride with a little more CC.
One quick Silver medal down, and Jet Lag’s the second level, and with it Trials is suddenly in full pelt. Thematically similar to TV series Lost at the start, Jet Lag shows Ubisoft and Redlynx clearly up for a little bit of fun. It’s trickier, but we’re seventh in the world – an obvious side effect of early code.
The last level in the first section sees us on broken pirate ships (with a nasty near-vertical mast to traverse) and we’re then onto the second event – Down and Dirty. Things feel more alive here, this new section forcing the Gecko as tranquil music plays off against a peaceful garden setting with some cruel downhill sections – the pushbike’s lack of suspension is a killer, but it’s light, deft and flips are easy.
A couple more silver medals and we’re onto East Pasila, the first medium ranked level, and based on a construction site demanding much of Trials’ trickier, more advanced controls. A section with a runaway car saps a few retries out of us, but after a tricky climb up some quarter pipes it’s hard to imagine doing this with any of the powered bikes.
Our next level, one atop a series of skyscapers with masses of sheer drops, bags us a platinum on our first go, but the one after, set in an honest-to-goodness funfair with arenas, rings of fire and a rollercoaster a bit tougher.
We’re racing through them, but these are brilliant levels – really inventive and original.
It goes bonkers from here, though – the next level (Gateways) throws everything upside down, with ghosts, portals and one hell of an ending, and is utterly fantastic; but the next – Recon Riders? Well, the clue’s in the name, and it works a treat. There’s a sense of humour here that’s all too often lacking in videogames of late, and I love it.[drop2]Spectacle, adventure, thrills – RedLynx continously push the boundaries of both what the engine can do and what’s expected of the player. Some levels play out like a hyperactive Indiana Jones spoof, whilst others are content with just keeping you on your toes and shifting the road ahead.
The Depths, soaked in darkness, is a torch-lit sewer ride with all the emphasis on the player, forcing wall kicks and delicate reverse flips without warning, but equally it’s in the company of levels that throw you forward with abandon.
Like, for example, Steam Shock, which fires massive gears at the player, a huge, hidden engine shifting entire ramps and walkways right under your tyres. There’s still skill required, of course, but you can’t help feeling that this is just the developers showing off, especially when you end up magnetised acround a cog before being hurled up towards the moon.
Half an hour or so down, and we’re blasting through. Ruination, a crumbling, rickety romp through an old jungle stops us in our tracks, though – it’s suddenly tricky, with fourteen crashes on our first go. And thankfully, it only gets harder from here on in. Reclaimed is great, requiring patience and good brakes, and Night Shift is equally a blast, the rider having to dodge bullets before an airborne escape.
Cues and homages are obvious, but we’ll let you figure them out.
What else can you look forward to? How about a giant toy box with deadly cubes and a less than helpful robot? An apocalyptic town? The three final ‘extreme’ tracks are suitably taxing, of course, but then we wouldn’t want it any other way. Up until the end section this is a fairly easy ride, but we’re suddenly faced with vertical jumps and the toughest of hops, the checkpoints never further apart.
The first extreme track, suitably Halloween themed? Well over ten minutes and a hundred retries…
Two new skill games round off the package, but it’s Uphill Struggle rather than the silly cannon game that’s the best use of your time. Like an evolved Hill Climb from the first Trials, this sees you trying to get as high as possible, although this time it’s not just one massive ramp.
The DLC looks great, vastly different themes showing off plenty of variety in the graphics with just a hint of screen tear threatening to spoil the party here and there when the game is most busy. The music’s a notch or two away from the norm, too, orchestral notes rubbing against subtler, less frantic rock giving a more ‘grown up’ feeling to proceedings.
Sure, with this expansion there’s a nod towards mass appeal rather than out and out hardcore, but only the very best will platinum everything the game has to offer. The rest of us, those that like a good show, will find plenty to entertain themselves here.
And for 400 Points, it’s not even something you need to think very hard about. Paine Island might not have that many stops, but they’re all so much fun that it’s a downright essential visit. Get it, and have fun. Just don’t expect it to last forever.