Platform: PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360 (reviewed on PC)
Release Date: April 16th (PC – April 24th)
Price: $19.99 (Deluxe Edition – $39.99)
The Trials games are definitely some of the more unique titles in gaming. Each one revolves around physics-based motocross riding on 2D platform tracks. Players control things like the sensitivity of the throttle and brake as well as body shifting to control your bike. As new Trials games came out, they added new features to the core formula. Trials HD added user-created tracks and Trials Evolution added skill games and multiplayer. Has RedLynx brought in enough new content for Trials Fusion? Yes, but the leap is not as dramatic as from HD to Evolution.
The setting for Trials Fusion is in the distant future. While the previous games had no story, Fusion has a story that isn’t interrupted by the gameplay much. One of the exceptions is the tutorial sections which you are forced to go through to advance the gameplay, but they are infrequent and useful for new players.
Two AIs, George and Cindy, are the characters that provide flavor text to the gameplay and give a charming backstory to the Fusion world. The narration is pretty comical, but can be interrupted if the player resets to a checkpoint in the middle of the dialogue. Earlier levels don’t have this problem, but the later, more difficult levels do.
As far as the other non-gameplay aspects of Trials Fusion, these mesh with the futuristic setting very well. The setting allows for a more interesting visual design. The core world appears similar to Evolution, but the additional level assets allow for massively varied level design, whether made by RedLynx or by the community using the Track Editor. The variety in design extends to the customization options for your rider and bike.
The sound design also matches really well, with sound assets practically identical to Evolution. The music is also very fitting, bringing genres like electronic, drum-and-bass, and dubstep into the mix. My personal favorite song plays on the title screen of the game. Electronic music is combined with laughably bad lyrics to make the song charming.
Even with all the new assets and the “next-gen” enhancements to graphical power, Trials Fusion only really looks slightly better than Evolution and has the same problems. Texture pop-in is still present, with blurry textures popping up when the camera resets faster than the textures can. The game also shares loading issues with opening up biker customization and selecting a bike before starting a track. In some cases, these can take anywhere from 10 to 15 seconds to load in, but at least in the case of bike selection doesn’t prevent you from entering a level faster.
On the plus side, though, the frame rate held up really well on my PC. My build is a little above the recommended system settings with a 900p 60Hz monitor, and it performed well for the most part on Ultra settings. The odd thing was that I experienced slowdown, but tweaking the graphical settings doesn’t do much to change it. Fortunately, slowdown never dropped the frame rate below 50 frames per second and didn’t feel like it affected the gameplay.
As for the core, Fusion plays just like previous games in the series. Tracks range in difficulty from beginner to extreme, which require precise control of your throttle and brake to complete the track. In this case, Fusion feels better using my Xbox 360 Gamepad than a keyboard. For the most part, though, keyboard works just fine. The fault and retry system are still here, with checkpoints along the track in case you mess up and the option to restart the track simply by pressing a button.
Fusion also incorporates features from Evolution, like a BMX bike, skill games, bailouts, multiplayer, and the robust Track Editor system with the ability to share tracks in Track Central. Unfortunately, this time around there is no online multiplayer, only local. In addition, the Track Editor doesn’t have an option for the Supercross game type, so players can’t create custom multiplayer maps.
Trials Fusion does have a couple of new gameplay features. It introduces a four-wheel drive ATV called the TKO-Panda, which controls very differently from your standard bike. The heavy weight of the vehicle as well as the grip on the track makes the Panda a unique and fun vehicle to use.
Each track also has three challenges, like performing a certain number of flips or running the entire track at full throttle. Some of these can get weird, with one of the most memorable ones being to catch sunstroke and beat the level with blurred vision.
Perhaps the biggest feature is the addition of the FMX trick system. Once unlocked, players can perform tricks in the air using the Right Stick on the Xbox 360 Gamepad. The controls are a little difficult to get used to, but come well enough with some practice. The trick system feels more difficult to do with a keyboard as well, making the game feel like it was designed with only an analog input in mind.
The addition of the FMX system extends to other non-standard tracks as well. FMX tracks have you pull off tricks to get as many points as you can as you try to cross the finish line before the time runs out. Skills games make use of this as well in games like Krank, which requires you to keep going fast and pulling tricks to get as far as you can before your bike explodes.
Other than that, though Fusion doesn’t really have much different going for it than Evolution did. It is still a great game by its own standards. The addition of new content by way of Track Central and RedLynx’s continued support of the game at least up to a year post-launch leaves quite a bit more to take in once you beaten the core game.
As the “next-gen” Trials game, the only aspect of Trials Fusion that feels “next-gen” is the fact that it has come out on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. While it isn’t the most groundbreaking entry, the futuristic coat of paint helps to set it apart. That said, it does have some minor technical issues that haven’t seemed to have changed from Evolution. Besides how negative that may sound, Trials Fusion is an excellent entry to the Trials franchise and a blast to play.