WITH over two million sales and a clutch of awards, Trials HD was an arcade-style motorbike stunt game that had a difficulty curve as steep as Ben Nevis. Like all the best games, it also had a simple premise: ride a bike across increasingly impossible terrain, negotiate a series of obstacles without falling off, and cross the finish line in a respectable time.

Trials Evolution

Publisher: Microsoft

Price: 1200 Microsoft Points (£10.20)

Format: Xbox Live Arcade

Age rating: 12+

WITH over two million sales and a clutch of awards, Trials HD was an arcade-style motorbike stunt game that had a difficulty curve as steep as Ben Nevis. Like all the best games, it also had a simple premise: ride a bike across increasingly impossible terrain, negotiate a series of obstacles without falling off, and cross the finish line in a respectable time.

The result was a download-only gem that was easy to pick up and play but incredibly hard to master, with near-vertical ramps, oil barrels, tractor tyres, concrete pipes and explosives standing between you and success. Three years later and its sequel – Trials Evolution – has just been released, once again pitting you and your stunt bike against 60 punishing single-player levels.

As before, your bike is deceptively easy to control, with the right and left triggers governing acceleration and braking respectively, while moving the left stick back and forth adjusts your rider's position. It really couldn't be any more straightforward, but the game's exaggerated physics, tortuous levels and precision jumping pile on the pressure.

The course designs are uniformly excellent, swapping the dull warehouse environments of the original game for far more innovative settings, including warzones, ancient ruins, oil rigs, collapsing bridges, building sites and loads more. There are even a bunch of courses that reference other games, such as Limbo, Portal and 'Splosion Man.

Thankfully, the crippling difficulty spikes of Trials HD have been dialled back. Frequent checkpoints, instant restarts and 'licence tests' – that teach advance techniques – also play their part in easing players into the game.

Leaving the single-player campaign behind, Evolution's multiplayer mode lets up to four players compete for bragging rights – either locally or online – while the comprehensive track editor is said to be exactly the same as the one used by the game's designers. Even if you don't have the patience to create new levels, someone else will, ensuring a steady stream of user-generated courses to enjoy.

Trials Evolution will keep you playing for months or even years to come. The fact that it costs little more than £10 is an added bonus, with a strong single-player campaign complimented by a fun multiplayer component and an easy-to-use course designer. In short, it's a masterpiece.

Score: 5/5 stars