Trials Evolution: Riders of Doom Review

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I’m not into motorbikes. I see them as way too dangerous; a wheels-and-gears love letter to death. Yet, that one scene from Top Gun where pre-crazy Tom Cruise is ahem *cruising* around, aviators beaming sunlight off his eyes, on his Kawasaki GPZ 900r is my favourite part of a film based around jet fighter stunt-flying. It also helps that Highway to the Danger Zone is a bad ass backing track. That scene almost makes me want to ride a motorbike. Then I play Trials Evolution, and I realise how bad of an idea that is. The game is so brilliant and so punishingly difficult, that it helps me understand I’m really not built for two wheels. How does the recently-released Riders of Doom DLC stack up though? Does it give me a glimmer of hope that I can one day be as cool as pre-couch-jumping Tom Cruise? No – it doesn’t – but that’s a really good thing.

You're not riding unless you're wearing a top hat too.

You’re not riding unless you’re wearing a top hat too.

Riders of Doom is a corny name. It sounds like it should be the subtitle of the upcoming Mad Max film, but it is (at least by RedLynx’s own admission) thematically based around the apocalypse. You remember the apocalypse we were promised but never received? It’s not a bad theme to play on and seems like it would fit nicely into the Trials world, but after playing through the tracks supplied, you get the feeling it’s not much more than a marketing ploy. And to be honest, that’s fine, because the 20 pure riding tracks are well-designed and enjoyable. The difficulty ramps up quickly, expecting the player to remember all the skills they’ve learnt from the original tracks and for players like myself, who jump on occasionally for a few hours, this may be a problem. For veterans though, the difficulty curve shouldn’t prove too much of an issue.

The Skill Game Circus that comes with Riders of Doom is probably the most fun a casual player can wring out of this inexpensive download (only 400MS points!) and it supplies ten new ‘tracks.’ From the “Human Javelin” that sees you toss your rider as far as possible, to the bunny-hop marathon of the “Gashopper” track, there seems like almost infinite replay value here. The Skill Games aren’t just fun, but the Xbox Live leaderboards and ghosts make them truly competitive, meaning you will just keep coming back to add those few extra metres, to plug away at that higher score. Some of the more difficult tracks in the Circus are harder to come back to, but still showcase the fantastic physics engine that underscores the entire game. The incredibly difficult reverse-Jenga in ”Aerial Architect” constantly frustrates me.

Enter the Matrix?

Enter the Matrix?

It’s the wonderful physics and the amount of control you can exert over your bike where Trials really elevates itself from good fun to an addictive, punishing nightmare. It’s great to see then, that there are a number of difficult and advanced techniques that have to be mastered to get through some of the more difficult tracks in Riders of Doom and certainly, it harks back to the Trials HD era where extreme patience and technical mastery are required to end up with those shiny platinum medals. Oh, and there’s a new bike to use too: the Banshee 350cc, which serves to provide a stepping stone between the final two bikes in the original. It’s a handy thing to have, but will probably serve those heavily invested in the game a lot better than it would a newcomer. I had trouble adapting to it at first, but it’s definitely less caustic than the Phoenix.

You really have to commend RedLynx on what they’ve done with the series – it’s still friendly enough to pull in new players and masters of the track will want to keep coming back for more. Riders of Doom is a solid and importantly, inexpensive piece of DLC for any Trials fan. Perhaps Kenny Loggins isn’t really the right guy to provide backing vocals for Trials. Instead, the song that keeps coming to mind whenever I click ‘select’ to restart a track is Daft Punk’s “One More Time.” It’s hard to put down Trials at the best of times and Riders of Doom is only going to make that harder.

  • Xbox 360

The Verdict

This game makes me realise how bad I am at riding a motorbike, but by god, it has the best physics and most replayability of any XBLA title you’ll find. Riders of Doom is a thematically flawed, but overall great addition to the Trials family and it’s damn cheap. Grab it if you’re craving some new tracks.
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