Ask your Xbox-owning chums what their favourite Xbox Live Arcade games are and there’s a good chance someone will mention the infuriating but sublime Trials Evolution.
We’ve had a handful of pretenders over the years, but Trials Frontier marks the first smarphone outing for the series. Huzzah? Yeah, mostly.
As established by its predecessors, Trials Frontier sees the player take charge of an unnamed dude on a motocross bike, and essentially you’re looking to get from start to finish with a minimum of falls and maybe the odd trick.
That’s easier said than done, however, as the Trials Frontier physics are – as we’ve come to expect from the series – absolutely spot on.
In terms of controls, the bottom right of the screen invites you to accelerate and brake, while the bottom left houses the necessary tilt functions.
If you think holding your finger down on the accelerator is going to cut the mustard, think again. A seemingly innocuous bump in the road can send you and your bike flying, and likewise, going at full pelt might see you hitting your head on low-hanging scenery.
As per Trials tradition, you can jump back to a previous checkpoint if you mess up, or leap back to the beginning of the run if you fancy starting over. Even in smartphone town, those two options are free. Nice.
Now, those are all par for the course in Trials. Where Trials Frontier differs is in the addition of a slightly silly story mode.
See, the game is largely based around parts and blueprints; parts to put towards upgrades and blueprints for new bikes.
Rather than simply go through the motions yourself, Trials Frontier hosts a series of characters that send you on missions. You might be tasked with simply riding from A to B, or perhaps asked to perform a number of flips.
Ultimately, we’re out to solve the mystery of the evil, er, what’s-his-name, who’s riding around and generally being a douche. I’ll get back to the story stuff momentarily.
The other major difference in Trials Frontier is the introduction of the obligatory smartphone rationing system, with each outing costing you a number of fuel points. Drain your fuel and you can either a) buy more (with real cash), or b) wait for your fuel to very slowly replenish.
The other familiar freemium tactic sees waiting times applied to upgrades. You can either exercise patience, or use the in-game currency - which can of course be topped up with real cash.
There’s lots of other stuff going on, including ghost races and leaderboards (assuming you’re willing to sign up for the necessary account), but you get the idea. The pressing question is: is Trials Frontier any good?
Well, yes. As I mentioned before, the physics are spot on. Trials Frontier feels very much like a Trials game, and that – friends – is a good thing.
But, having played Trials Evolution to death on the Xbox, I can’t help but feel that all this new story nonsense gets in the way. Ditto the fuel system and waiting times. See, Trials Frontier is free; I would’ve much rather paid £2.99 up front for a series of brutally challenging tracks without all the nonsense.
Having said that, I did enjoy Trials Frontier the more I played it, and again – that has to be a good thing.
- It’s Trials!
- Over 70 tracks and 250+ missions
- It’s free, I guess
- The freemium stuff (fuel and waiting times)
- The story stuff
- Not as gritty or challenging as earlier Trials games
Summary: Trials Frontier marks the first smartphone outing for the series, and it’s about time. The Trials stuff is excellent, but the smartphone stuff (the fuel rationing, the story…) gets in the way somewhat.
Price: free @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPad and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.