Trials 2 Second Edition PC Review
Sometimes the simplest games can be the most fun to play. We all have our favorites - whether it's some classic 16bit console game we fire up on an emulator every so often, or some web based flash game we can't seem to stop playing, it seems even in today's world of advanced open ended game design and human like AI we can't help but occasionally indulge in the much less complex time waster.
least, this definitely is not the case with Trials 2 Second Edition from Finnish game developer RedLynx. This physics based bike game is probably one of the most simple you'll play on the PC in 08, but also probably one of the hardest and most addictive.
The concept behind Trials 2 SE can basically be summed up in one word - physics. Based on the real world sport of trial biking with an arcade game twist, and also based on the popular flash based game found on Miniclip.com, Trials 2 SE is built entirely around a true physics engine with the obligatory rag doll effects to boot. The idea is simply this - you must navigate your dirt bike from start to finish,
falling (known as "faulting") as few times as possible, which generally happens if you lean back too far or go head-over-handlebars. You can only move in four directions - backwards, forwards, upwards and downwards - meaning the initially normal but quickly outlandish levels resemble that of a side scrolling platformer more than a typical bike racing game.
So it sounds pretty straight forward, right? I mean, you ride a bike backwards and forwards and try to get to the end of the level - big deal. Big deal indeed. The task sounds easy enough, but the actual execution is anything but. Due to some very clever and crafty level design, getting from start to finish without faulting in any level in this game can be quite a challenge. The game is entirely about adjusting your rider's body weight and landing on some pretty imposing objects, such as a roughly stacked
group of tires, a large boulder, or a plank of wood slouched at a 45 degree angle. If you do happen to fall off, no worries - you can just respawn at the previous checkpoint and have another crack at it - but ideally you're looking to finish levels without faulting at all.
Honestly, this simply wasn't possible for me except in the game's 'Easy' levels and maybe one or two 'Medium' levels. Not faulting on a 'Hard' level though? Forget about it, I didn't stand a chance. The design of some of these harder levels are extremely difficult. The thing is though, this is how I felt about some of the 'Easy' levels the first time I played the game. My immediate reaction was "Far out, this game is freaking tough" (well, that is the PG-13 version of what I said anyway), but after
playing for a little while, you do start to really get a feel for the game and you start to see your skills develop in front of your very eyes. While I'm not sure I'd ever be able to master this game entirely, in time even a few of the more daunting levels can be tackled without too much trouble. With that said though, unless you're exceptional at keeping your cool, be prepared for some frustration as this game can be very repetitive and tedious in some spots. The problem with a pure physics based game like
this is you often play in patterns and rhythms since even the smallest and slightest touch matters, and you'll find sometimes even a seemingly very simple section of a level can take a long time and a lot of retries to conquer.
Trials 2 Second Edition PC Review
With this in mind, Trials 2 SE is definitely best played in smaller occasional spurts. The concentration required and aforementioned tendency to frustrate can really wear you down, so I found it beneficial to treat the game much like its flash based counter part - a time waster. Something you fire up for 10, 20, 30 minutes once or twice a day when you need to burn some time. That's me anyway - obviously how others play the game may differ entirely. All I know is, prepare to get the urge to fire
up this game and better your scores often, because whilst the gameplay can be annoying and frustrating, it is also very, very addictive. As an added treat, the game also features two modes outside of the standard 'fastest time with fewest faults wins' mode - there is also a 'flips' mode which tasks you with doing as many flips as possible also with as few faults as possible, and there is a 'wheelie' mode which tasks you with racking up as much distance as possible in a single level while doing a wheelie, again
with as few faults as possible. These two 'small mini-games inside the big mini-game' only add to the game's addictive nature.
To compliment this addictive gameplay with incentive to keep playing, RedLynx have integrated a rather impressive online system within the game that covers profiles, stats, rankings and teams. While there is no actual multiplayer per se (not even sure how a game like this would go about such a thing), the online features are still impressive. As soon as you finish a level the game will submit your data such as time, faults, flips etc and compare them against others
game, which you can then filter to your own country and team if you're part of one. This isn't the best part though - not only are there constantly updating rankings, but you can even stream replays of every best-run online from every player, which is a fantastic way to get tips and techniques from the best (and some of these top guys are crazy good at this game). The very very best part about the online system though? that goes to the efficiency of it all. Despite the fact I reside in Australia (not exactly
known for snappy International net traffic), the rankings and replays load almost instantly with little in the way of disturbances. This is a very well implemented online system.
There is one disappointment though amongst the well designed gameplay that can't go unmentioned. Trials 2 Second Edition does not feature a level builder. Everything else about this game somewhat closely resembles that of a game like TrackMania, but the absence of the ability to easily design, and ideally easily distribute your own levels is a bit of a let down honestly. Maybe this is something RedLynx can add in the future, because I'm sure it will expand on an already pretty well established
community of fans.
Although Trials 2 SE is inspired by a mere flash game, you definitely wouldn't know from looking at it. What we have here is a fully fledged 3D game with some pretty nice lighting and environmental effects. While we're not talking visual quality at the level of PC gaming's finest here, the graphics are still plenty nice. Better yet, the engine is silky smooth and although I can't say for sure first hand (*points to the bottom of the page*), I suspect Trials 2 SE will run fine on
even reasonably low end PC's, especially if you lower the quality a bit, which doesn't really effect the enjoyment at all honestly. As far as controls go, the game does seem designed for use with your keyboard's direction keys, but PC gamers with an Xbox 360 controller connected to their PC will find full support with Trials 2 SE without any configuration what so ever, including force feedback. I'm not sure this game truly takes advantage of the analog controls, but this is a great move
by RedLynx. As it turns out though, the 360 pad can't navigate the main menu which is a bit of a nuisance at times.
Trials 2 SE just keeps you coming back for more time and time again. Sometimes the difficulty can border on insane and get on your nerves, but if you stick to small regular doses the amount of time you can burn bouncing around a few objects on your bike in this game is amazing. The concept is so simple yet the result is so fun and challenging, and that's before you even consider the feature filled online integration, which is probably one of the better jobs you'll find in a game like this.
What can I say, other than the absence of the ability to design and distribute your own levels, there is just no faulting this game. It even comes in at under $US 20 to buy online and there is a free demo to check out - you can't ask for much more value than that.