Anyone who has wasted time on Miniclip or any other hub of web games can testify to the flighty appeal of motocross-style biking games.
Despite their throwaway nature, a good physics engine and challenging levels can do a lot for these games.
Trial Xtreme 2 makes absolutely no change to the set formula, and is as competent as any blatant Trials-alike has any right to be. However, as it’s also a little rough around the edges.
The game doesn’t depart from the set route where the levels are involved. There are 36 of them in total, comprising a variety of ramps, mounds, cars, and other obstacles. From huge pyramids of tractor wheels to tunnels of concrete pipes, all the usual Trials-like environments are included.
There are even moments where the physical objects need to be knocked over or struck in a certain way to make the path passable. For instance, one early level sees you toppling a series of pallets like dominoes in order to ride over them and move on. It’s a small touch but it adds some extra challenge to the drive.
Levels are timed, but there’s no real impetus to drive you on apart from the desire to beat your own previously set time. There's no ‘star system’ offering you a token three-star reward for your troubles – just personal satisfaction.
With the reward being so straightforward and the levels being at times quite tough-going, it’s easy to adopt a simplistic and mini-game-like relationship to Trial Xtreme 2. It’s fine to absent-mindedly dip into, but it isn’t without its irritations.
The levels tend to be extremely difficult, and checkpoints aren’t as regular as you might like, meaning you can often end up repeating the same obstacles. It's rewarding to finish a stage, but you may grind away a few layers of molar before you get there.
The problem is that once you’ve overcome one obstacle there's nothing particularly interesting about the rest of them. Having to traverse many of the brief but difficult obstructions all over again begins to grate - especially when you're knocked from your bike inches from the end of a level and have to start from the beginning.
Thankfully, the controls are tactile enough to ensure that when you crash it’s always your own fault (though your biker's head is annoyingly vulnerable). You can swap between using the D-pad for balance and using the accelerometer for an extra test of dexterity.
A few minor annoyances remain. For example, there’s the presence of a blocky, scantily-clad cheerleader or two in every level, which - thanks to their puppet-like movements - are mildly unsettling. Aside from that, the motocross feel comes across well and the result is a game that feels largely at home on Xperia Play.