Awesome Level Max just doesn’t make any sense. As though it were snatched from the particularly fevered imagination of a young child, it stars not a relatively nondescript rider on the back of a dirt bike, but rather a bandana wearing cat with a gun riding a fire breathing unicorn.
Their journey together starts as a lone rider breaks into a secret facility – I say breaks in, but you just ride in on your bike – eventually uncovering blueprints for the ultimate rider and being transformed into this particularly dynamic duo, before embarking on an adventure that spans space and time, filled with barmy set pieces and even a boss battle at the end. In space.
Everything about the eight Awesome Adventure levels is completely over the top. The cat and unicorn look almost like chintzy plastic toys; there’s some fresh amusement to be found a number of their death animations, and as you gallop towards a big jump, there’s an adorable clippity-clop, the odd whinny and an occasional cat’s meow. The Unicorn MKII handles much like the bikes that already exist in the game, with rear hoof drive very much the order of business. In that regard, it’s a pretty straightforward extension.
While it’s silly and funny, there are too many points which just don’t mesh together. The second level in particular is very messy, as you’re regularly teleported from one theme and location to another. The most immediate problem is that the game engine struggles to cope with this, with some particularly awful pop-in as you shift between themes and locations, and while you’re generally transported whilst in midair, it’s a struggle to contend with not being able to see what’s coming up ahead. Worst of all is the poorly timed teleport which often has you crash into a ramp a split second later, even if you know that it’s coming.
It can just feel a little amateurish in places, like a fan project that doesn’t have the level of polish that you’d expect, which is a shame, because it is often genuinely inventive and fun, in addition to being completely off-the-wall crazy. It’s a little bit ironic, considering that it’s just one part of this DLC and exists alongside RedLynx vs. All-Stars, a more conventional level pack which was part created by hand-picked community members.
Half of the 22 tracks have been created by RedLynx, with the other half made by top creators from within the community, and then refined and polished with RedLynx’ help. As a consequence, there’s no real underlying theme, and from one creator to the next, there’s often a very different visual feel. Certainly, some of them look like rather straightforward Trials levels, but others manage to really stand out from the pack, such as the side-on silhouetted Dark City, which was clearly very heavily inspired by Limbo.
In terms of difficulty, they range from the relatively easy to the outlandishly difficult, requiring absolute mastery of the game’s physics, the bike’s throttle and the shifting of the rider’s weight to make each jump. The Awesome Adventure is certainly on the more accessible side of things, designed to play around with wacky ideas and be something that almost everyone can jump into and enjoy, but after a few easier levels to ease you back into Trials, the gloves can come off in RedLynx vs. All-Stars. I’ve never been the best Trials player, so more than a few of these levels simply tortured me with their difficulty.
Placed in the grander context of Trials Fusion, Awesome Level Max feels like the icing on the cake for what has been a very well supported game since its release in April of last year. The six DLC packs that were part of the season pass added dozens of extra levels and plenty of customisation kit and new items for level creation, but there have also been patches to add Tournament mode, clan-like Teams and eight player online multiplayer, which was a glaring omission at launch – and yes, you can use the cat and unicorn in multiplayer. The Awesome Max Edition bundles all of that together with the new DLC pack, as a stepping on point for newcomers.
Though some of it is far from perfect, Awesome Level Max is one part outlandish fun and two parts more of the same brutally tough Trials gameplay. Though there might be a cat and a unicorn on the artwork, they’re really just there to remind you to come and rediscover what made Trials so addictive in the first place.