Like many people, I was excited to hear about Trials coming to iOS, though deep down, I knew that on some level, I would be disappointed. An announcement of a free to play model will do that to a person. Immediately I had visions of using gems or diamonds to take milliseconds off my run times. Maybe it’s due to my lowered expectations, but as it turns out, Trials Frontiers for iOS, while somewhat predictable in its free to play scheme, is actually pretty good.
The premise of the game is simple; race a dirt bike through a course of hills, loops and drop to get to the finish line as fast as possible. Crashing your bike will take you back to a checkpoint without resetting the timer. While it’s certainly possible to finish a trial with a crash, you will need to restart if you’re going to anything above a bronze finish. Along the way, you’re paid with gold coins as you pass each checkpoint.
Throughout the game, you’re given a series of quests in order to defeat the villain, Butch. The quests range between anything from doing one backflip and one frontflip on a trial to finishing before one of Butch’s minions. At the end you’re rewarded with experience points, coins, and an opportunity to spin a wheel for a prize, mostly consisting of dirt bike parts. In general, the quests mostly feel rewarding, and the challenges you set for yourself, in terms of earning medals and beating yours or your friends times can be addicting.
The only major problem with Trials Frontier lies in the fuel system. Anyone familiar with the energy systems in other games will know exactly what this is. You start the game with a fuel can with 25 units of fuel. Every time you do a trial, it uses up five fuel units. One unit of fuel takes three minutes to refill, or you can pay to refill the tank using gems, the game’s IAP currency.
Fortunately, your tank is refilled every time you level up, and as long as you’re continually completing quests, fuel will probably not be an option. Unfortunately, the prize wheel mentioned earlier, sometimes inhibits you from completing quests, due to the random nature of the wheel.
The idea is if you don’t get the item you need for a quest by spinning the wheel, you can spend gems to spin again or use five fuel units to re-do the trial, which of course costs gems to refill. By our estimation, it would cost around $20 worth of gems if you wanted to increase your tank size to the point where you could reliably play uninterrupted for at least an hour at a time. That number, however, may change for the worse over time, as more difficult tracks cost more fuel to play, and bike upgrades take more time to complete, as you go. “Don’t be stingy with your gems.” the game says during the tutorial. “There are plenty of ways to earn more out there in the world!” Yeah, thanks for the tip. I could use those early-game gems now that I need 470 of them for a fuel tank upgrade.
At it’s core, Trials Frontier is a blast to play. Competing for time is addicting in the best way: pure competition. The controls are intuitive and the graphics are some of the best on the AppStore. The IAP scheme, however, holds Trials Frontier back from being a game played by budget-conscious hardcore gamers. If you’re looking for a fun game to spend a few hours in over the course of a few days, give Trials Frontier a shot.
Trials Frontier Review: Fun Yet Bittersweet
-High quality graphics and sound
-Fun, action-oriented gameplay
-Fuel (energy) system limits playtime