Trials Evolution: Origin of Pain Preview: Yes We Cannon

Hands on with RedLynx's circus of horrors.

A group of late-thirties men are gathered around the Trials booth at Ubisoft's Digital Days event in Paris, and they're all talking about the same thing. They're all talking about playing Trials, of course, but more specifically, they're talking about playing Trials with their kids. Young children love RedLynx's stunt gauntlet as much as grown-up children, by the sounds of it. Even Antti Ilvessuo, RedLynx's head honcho, admits he plays with his three-year-old - Ilvessuo junior working the gas while Ilvessuo senior controls the balance.

It's not surprising to see where the love comes from: Trials remains a wonderful interactive museum of head injuries and spinal fractures, and there's nobody on earth who's too old, or too refined, to not enjoy the sight of an extreme sports type spinning through the air arms flailing before relaxing, indelicately, into the brittle embrace of a nearby tree. RedLynx is currently hard at work with a selection of other Ubisoft studios bringing both Trials HD and Trials Evolution to the PC in the form of Trials Evolution: Gold Edition, and while the team's promising a package that's optimised and spruced up for its return to its home platform, it's also found the time to create new DLC for the 360 crowd. Face-planting on a concrete pipe must seem like a sweet release after that kind of workload.

The new DLC's called Origin of Pain, and it offers a whole tropical island to screw around on. The island's 4km by 4km, making it fairly massive by Evolution standards, and its 36 new single-player tracks - along with additional skill games and tournament stuff - are set amongst a surprisingly wide range of backdrops, from smoggy city centres to Shinto shrines, pirate bays, and even the odd circus pitch.

The tracks start hard and get worse, by the looks of it, which is very promising for a game that fairly revels in things getting worse. Amongst the crazy jumps and sudden drops there's even more of an emphasis on teasing physics objects about, too - bouncing into a tower until it crumbles and forms a road, say, or powering down a slope to slide under overhanging tree limbs. My teeth ache with sympathy just watching it.

Making things even trickier is the addition of a new BMX, the Gecko 520. I'm not sure how gloriously punishing the first 519 Geckos were, but this one is a marvellous bastard of a bike, with the surprisingly powerful acceleration offered by its rear wheel combining wonderfully with a light frame to ensure that you're always seconds away from going into a lazy backwards flip and compressing your spine to the point where you could probably store it in a Tic-tac box.

If the BMX suggests the team's thinking small with Origin of Pain, the new track editor options suggest its capable of thinking big too, however, with 100 new objects and 30 new effects, most of which glory in huge chunks of metal and vast gouts of flame. Objects include an enormous cargo plane and a ship, for example, and you can also pick from rough pieces of broken fuselage if you prefer your environments a little more devastated. There's also a cannon - a holdover from the circus, presumably - which allows you to launch your rider through the sky so that he hits the ground with a truly terminal impact.

Cannons fit brilliantly with Trials, of course. Almost anything would by this point, as long as it's dangerous, unpredictable and liberally coated in gunpowder. Origin of Pain promises head-injury fans even more of their favourite game, then - and it may prove to be that game at its very best.

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