The Trials series is renowned for several things: addicting gameplay, great physics and steep challenges. With Trials Fusion, Redlynx’s first effort on the new consoles, the formula hasn’t really changed much. But it does bring the series brightly onto the the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for a whole new generation of fantastic motorcycle fun.
By bringing Fusion onto the new generation of consoles, Redlynx has moved the style of the game towards more futuristic settings. Levels include large, robotic factories and you are accompanied by a GLaDOS-sounding female computer voice through almost all of them. Fusion doesn’t go full force with the futuristic settings though and still offers a ton of variety in the levels including cities, mountains, forests and plenty more. Levels are also full of activity with objects breaking away, shifting and bending as you pass through. The game looks good and runs perfectly at 60 frames per second but it doesn’t seem to be pushing the system too much graphically. The music is similarly futuristic sounding and the main theme will almost certainly get stuck in your head.
The point of Fusion is fairly straightforward: drive a motorcycle from point A to point B as fast as you can and by crashing as few times as possible, preferably without a single crash at all. The path from beginning to the end involves complex obstacles such as large gaps, crazy jumps of all angles and debris littering the way. In order to succeed, you have to manage speed, traction, momentum and balance.
Controlling your bike through the various levels is about as simple as it gets. In fact, the controls haven’t really changed that much in the series’ long history. The right and left trigger control acceleration and braking, while the movement of the left stick dictates how you lean on the bike. Leaning is easily the most important aspect as it allows you to easily adjust to land correctly, align for a steep hill or pull off sweet flips. Tricks, which are brand new to the Trials series, are performed with the right stick.
Throughout the first couple of levels, the game will feel fairly easy. You can usually complete the beginning levels with few crashes or faults. After a second or third try, these opening levels can usually be completed with a gold medal, which means you went fast enough and met the requirement for fewest crashes. As the game goes on you’ll find out that these opening sections were just an appetizer for the much more complicated, difficult path ahead.
The name of the game is (literally) Trials and that is a fitting description for what it’s like to play most of the levels. A good amount of your time will be spent trying something, failing, and then retrying to get past whatever obstacle you need to overcome. It’s a ridiculously addictive gameplay model that very rarely falls into frustration. You can always tell that the game is spot on in it’s simulation of the way the bike handles, which means the reason you keep crashing is you and you alone. It’s also lightning fast to reset to the latest checkpoint so a retry is never grating. There are also tons of checkpoints in every level so that if you manage to surpass an especially difficult part, you rarely have to do it over.
Many games take advantage of the formula of trying and trying until you finally get past a section but none do it as well as Trials Fusion. Once you get the hang of how each of the different bikes handle, and how to pull off some of the more complex moves, (which the game does teach you but in a pretty glossed over fashion) you will feel like you can do absolutely anything. You will want to keep playing and you will want to push yourself to get past that troublesome section. You will restart a level over and over again trying to shave that extra one second off of your time to finally earn that elusive gold medal. Why do you do it? You do it because when you finally do accomplish your goal, you feel like a god. And who doesn’t want that?
Fusion also gives you incentive to go back and try to get higher scores on levels by tying it directly into the game’s progression. Oftentimes, this type of idea turns out terribly. But in Fusion, the bar is set low enough that people with average skill should be able to unlock all of the events with just a little bit of elbow grease. Certainly there will be some things blocked off to some, like certain costumes, but almost all of the game should be accessible to everyone.
Speaking of costumes, various customization options are available. Similar to past games, there aren’t tons of options but it is still fun to create your own guy. Many of the costumes match Fusion’s futuristic, robotic aesthetic in it’s levels with mechanical robot parts and helmets seemingly pulled right out of Battlestar Galactica. You can also customize the different vehicles but again, the options are scarce. There are only a few options for body styles and only a single color that can be modified.
Of the various additions, improvements and enhancements that Fusion offers, the most obvious is the new trick system. You can use tricks in any level (once you’ve unlocked them) but there are specific trick levels that test your ability to not only navigate a course, but to perform tricks all along the way. These levels involve giants jumps and falls which give you plenty of air time to pull off crazy stunts. The tricks, just like the rest of the game, seem simple at first but have a deep layer of complexity to them. What trick you do depends not only on what direction you push the right stick but also what position your bike is in when your start the trick.
These trick levels add onto the wacky skill modes from Evolution and provide a little twist towards just straightforward race levels. These skill levels will task you with things like flinging yourself off of your bike over a steep hill or trying to ride a bicycle with a loose front wheel. They provide a decent change of pace from the normal levels while also being an excellent representation of what is possible given the amazing physics model.
Another fun addition is the inclusion of an ATV to the standard mix of vehicles including several motorcycle types and bicycles. The ATV feels like a beginner’s mode of sorts in that it’s really easy to maneuver and difficult to crash. Obviously, the limitations of the ATV make it not work in many normal tracks as it definitely lacks the precision required to get past some of the crazier obstacles.
The real bread and butter of Fusion, similar to Evolution, is sure to be the community features. Leaderboards are an ever present factor that pushes much of the game. Beating your friend’s scores is going to keep you coming back to the game for a long time. During a race, small orbs show your or your friend’s best run in a given level. These will taunt you when you fall behind or fill you with joy when you finish ahead of one. You can also watch a replay of anyone’s best time on the leaderboard to find out their secret or you can download a ghost to race against.
The main feature that will give Fusion legs for the next couple years is the creation tools. With the massive amount of tools Redlynx gives you, pretty much anything can be built out of this simple racing game. If you don’t believe it, go look up some videos of the crazy things people built in Trials Evolution. These include movie homages, controller-chucking difficulty and even different genre games like shooters and platformers.
The tools are all there to create amazing things but in pre-release none of the amazing content has arrived yet. Redlynx has promised that some of the best level creators already have their hands on the game with a bunch of user created content set to drop on launch day. If the life of Fusion is anything like Evolution, there is plenty to look forward to.
Redlynx is also clearly planning to support Fusion for a long time. There is a planned online multiplayer mode set to release for free in the future but that aspect is bare at launch. Though there is the same fun four-player local multiplayer. There is also a season pass available to purchase, which bundles six content packs that will add brand new levels and creation items. The standard download for Trials Fusion is $20 but you can also pick up a $40 retail version that comes bundled with the $20 season pass.
Fusion doesn’t change the formula much from previous titles in the series, but considering how great that formula is, there really didn’t need to be any meddling. The things that were added are fun but not game-changing, and the new levels added here are a blast to play. The big change will likely be the upcoming multiplayer mode that is supposed to be a huge improvement on the middling multiplayer of Evolution. Even without online multiplayer, Fusion is still incredibly easy to to recommend for the fun factor alone. Just be aware that getting your money’s worth will likely require you to stick around for the great user maps and multiplayer.
SCORE: 8.5 out 10
A code for Trials Fusion was provided to Pixel Related for review.