I’ll be honest, I’ve never ridden on a motorcycle. My parents never really got on board with the whole “two-wheeled speed machine of death” thing and, honestly, I blame my lack of popularity in high school on that. It definitely wasn’t because I brought an original VHS tape of A New Hope for an English presentation on “Your most prized possession”. It was all because I never pulled into the teachers parking lot with a sweet hog of my own. That remarkably vivid memory really stuck with during my time with Trials: Rising, largely because it reinforced how damn cool I would have felt if I had motorbike.
That’s just what this game is: Cool. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself seriously and while you’re blitzing down a track built into a derelict Soviet missile base, you’ll thank it for that. The Trials series has always been successful at designing incredibly fun games that are both accessible but offer a high skill ceiling for those willing to pour the hours into mastering a jump or precision landing. Trials: Rising is no exception with some of the most challenging and unabashedly fun tracks yet seen in the series.
For those who haven’t been following Redlynx’s arcade motocross series, the premise is simple: Use this bike to get from one end of a track to the other. Typing it out, it seems limited in terms of the gameplay on offer, but after
The tracks are the real selling point of the game. The level design on display in Trials is phenomenal. No two tracks feel the same to race along and the incredible aesthetic variety on offer is truly special. That thing I said about the missile silo? That’s one of the first locations and the game only ramps up the insanity from there. From being catapulted around the Eiffel Tower to zooming along military crates dangling out the back of a plane like an extreme sports Nathan Drake. Trials: Rising is immensely creative stretching the limits of possibility to provide an exhilarating experience unmatched by most arcade racer. The game looks stunning and every course is beautifully detailed.
There is a lot to do in Trials: Rising. Like a typical Ubisoft game, there is an abundance of content here, so much so that players who perhaps enjoy the novelty of the game over the deeper experience will probably grow bored. Apart from just trying to get the platinum medal for every track, numerous sponsors will pop up throughout the game offering unique challenges to complete for rewards. These tasks could be anything from doing 8 front flips before the finish or spending 20 seconds inverted in the air. They range in difficulty, but these often require looking at tracks through a fresh set of eyes. These don’t even include challenges exclusive to specific unlockable bikes or “skill challenges” ranging from Explosive Barrel Ski Jumps to Explosive Barrel Basketball (The Olympics need to look into this explosive barrel business). Above and beyond even this is the game’s level editor, which is apparently the same system used by Redlynx to design and build the game’s shipping levels. There will no doubt be thousands of unique tracks created by the community to further extend the game’s longevity and will satisfy the itch of creative players looking to design their own death traps.
Beyond the actual gameplay, Trials: Rising also offers a staggering amount of customisation items that extend to both your rider’s appearance and how bitchin’ you want your bike to look. The game is bursting with stickers, helmets, victory poses and the like and it’s fairly generous at dishing out this content early on. The game is also open to content updates to further grow the roster of cosmetics available in the game. Within a few hours, I had created a rider decked out in beer hat (accessorised with a shark fin) praising the sun before every race. Completing challenges earns currency and XP. When you acquire enough XP to level, you receive a…gear crate DUH DUH DUHHHHHHHH!
Although many might take issue with this system, I was receiving enough crates to never feel like I was grinding pointlessly. Hell, even premium currency can be earned in game through completing difficult (yet reasonable challenges) or finding hidden items during a race. Trials: Rising, despite implementing a system of progression that has received a decent (and often deserved) amount of flak over the years feels like perhaps one of the fairer takes on cosmetic loot-based progression and I appreciated it immensely.
Perhaps the biggest fault I can point is the game’s soundtrack. Maybe I was just unlucky with the shuffle, but I heard many of the same songs three, even four times in the space of half an hour. Which wouldn’t have been as annoying if the majority of the music didn’t sound like a budget Beastie Boys cover
Although I don’t know if I could even classify Trials as a “racer” without getting into the philosophical and linguistic debates on what qualifies as “genre” (not that anyone besides me would be vaguely boring enough to be interested in that conversation), I think “puzzle-platformer” is a much more fitting description of trials. Sure, there are races against opponents, but winning is never the goal. What is celebrated most is execution; finding that perfect path through a track that offers multiple time skips while maintaining enough speed and balance to not flip backwards and become the next poster child for “Arrive Alive”.
Not only does Trials: Rising task the player mastering the game’s mechanics, it also requires a critical eye when evaluating the courses; “Solving” the track is the best way to excel at the game rather than just going fast. Underneath its simple premise lies a deep and engaging experience should please both fans of the series and newcomers alike.
Last Updated: February 25, 2019