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Game review: TRIALS HD

01 Oct 2009

YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TIME to think “Just one more game”. No, when it comes to Trials HD, you’ve already pressed the ‘restart’ button, and it’s well into the wee hours. Welcome to one of the most devilishly addictive games of  recent years.

Trials HD is a physics-based 2D motocross/puzzle game that is both brilliant in its simplicity and completely over the  top. Like many of the best games, it’s easy to pick up, but infuriatingly difficult to master. And yet you keep trying to...

Basically, you must negotiate a series of obstacle courses (littered with explosives, jumps and hills, among other things)  on your motocross bike in the fastest time possible. You must quickly become familiar with how your rider’s body  stature (leaning forward, neutral or leaning back) affects your bike's manoeuvrability in order to shave precious seconds from your finish time. For instance, leaning forward on an incline will often slow your ascent, while leaning back and popping a wheelie might force you to fall. And after a jump it’s ever so important to make sure you land appropriately  for the surface incline that you land on.

The true beauty – or evil, perhaps – of Trials HD is that it entices you to continue on with a motivator that will keep you  coming back: friendly competition. No game makes such good use of the Xbox Live Arcade leaderboard  functionality as Trials HD. It’s constantly taunting you as you race, on each course that you attempt, with how your  performance stacks up against your friends’ best times. Beat their times and you might be king for a day, but you can  be sure that they’re trying to do the very same...

There are unlockable bikes and challenges, too, and the challenges are particularly entertaining. They range from seeing  how far you can move a circular steel cage by riding inside it, to how high you can make it by bouncing your  bike from pinball-like flippers. And of course, you’re once again competing against your online friends, the ever-moving  targets. This game kept me up well past bedtime more than once.