NOTE: THE GAME WAS REVIEWED USING AN XBOX CONTROLLER
Coming as the latest title from the Xbox Live Arcade hit series ‘Trials’, Trials Fusion offers the same thrills and spills as previous entries while still including enough new content and ideas to be another worthy sequel in this fantastically fun series.
For those that aren’t aware of what Trials is, Trials Fusion is a fast-paced and immensely challenging platforming racing game whereby players race their motorbike across a large variety tracks to reach the end in the quickest time possible. The tracks on offer here aren’t conventional however, and you will be consistently faced with ramps, jumps, flips, loops, and all manners of crazy terrain and man-made hurdles that will have you cursing profusely every time you crash, or otherwise fail to overcome them. Only by shifting your riders weight around (by leaning forwards and backwards) will you ever successfully complete the tracks, and as such the game does have a rather steep learning curve for beginners, that said however, the game gradually teaches you more advanced techniques as you progress through the career mode thanks to a handful of mandatory training levels. Soon enough you will be very much capable of tackling tracks with some degree of ease, and completing them with as little crashes as possible, feeling the need to play just one more track as the signature Trials addiction kicks in.
The career mode is where you will spend most of your time within Trials Fusion, progressing through themed zones by collecting the required amount of medals for each. Each track has a bronze, silver, and gold medal up for grabs, and the player will be wanting to aim for gold in every event if they ever hope to progress as far as possible. The bulk of tracks occupy the base Trials gameplay in which the player will be expected to complete each track in the fastest time possible with as little crashes as they can. Though most of your time will be spent completing such challenges, the formulae never becomes tiresome thanks to the ever-creative tracks that never fail to offer a fresh challenge. Also on offer here are a handful of skill tracks that take up a much more arcade style, and are rather abstract in their gameplay. One such level asks you to perform the furthest jump possible on a ski jump setting, while another asks you to complete a trio of Olympic style games such as long jump, high jump, and then a time trial track. Despite not being completely necessary and only having a vague presence amongst the rest of the career, they do offer a fun alternative gameplay offering that still maintains the competitive edge you come to expect.
As a new addition to the series, Trials Fusion gives the players the ability to execute a series of tricks while airborne through intuitively moving the right analogue stick in different directions. While these tricks serve as nothing useful outside of FMX levels, when playing such events they are your main means of scoring points. Though the trick roster isn’t large, it doesn’t have to be, and the number of tricks available is more than enough to serve the few levels that employ this style of event. Not only that, but you can couple tricks with front and backwards flips to earn even more, and as long as you don’t crash or restart from a checkpoint, each trick will add to your multiplier allowing players to earn an ever higher score. While the idea of pulling off tricks isn’t as great as the game would lead you to believe, it’s certainly a welcome addition, if not a little underdeveloped and largely ignored.
Perhaps one of the most fun aspects of Trials Fusion, challenge objectives are included on each track as a means of adding much more replayability, and as you might have guessed, added challenge. While previous games have included hidden extras within levels, this whole idea has been opened up and properly developed with each track including a set of three objectives that prove as fun as they are frustrating to complete. There are some generic objectives that are repeated across the levels such as: Complete the track without leaning, but surprisingly a lot of the objectives are unique to the specific tracks, making for consistently entertaining and surprising gameplay. The developers have added in their own sense of quirky humour into a lot of them too, not to mention their wacky imagination to provide highly challenging, but incredibly rewarding challenges.
Like the previous instalments, Trials Fusion includes multiple bikes that can be used, of which have their own properties, advantages, and disadvantages. These are gradually unlocked as you progress, but once you have a few to choose from you really realise how much each vehicle differs from each other, and how even the slightest nuance can affect your performance significantly. The different bikes require time to get used to, but once you have mastered the way they control and handle, players will feel very comfortable. As an attempt to add something new to the franchise, Trials Fusion throws a quad bike into the mix, but unfortunately it doesn’t fit very well, feeling like something extra thrown into the mix for nothing more than the sake of it. While it has considerable advantages over the bikes when travelling up hill, a feat that seems a little unfair, it is incredibly unused during the career, with only a few tracks capable of catering for its use. I guess it’s fun while it lasts, but it really makes you wonder why they bothered when it was never intended to be used all that much.
As you would come to expect from the previous entry, multiplayer is included here, but not exactly how you would expect. Though traditional local multiplayer exists in the same way you might remember from Trials Evolution, bizarrely there are only a handful of tracks included resulting in a very short lived multiplayer experience. This is a huge shame, especially considering some of my fondest memories of the Trials experience have come from local multiplayer races. The disappointment doesn’t end there however, with online multiplayer completely missing at launch. Though the developers will be releasing that as a free update at some point in the near future, the wound has already been made, and it currently tarnishes the game somewhat. On the bright side however, the multiplayer offering is said to be something new, so we can only wait and see if it delivers in the end.
With user generated content being a huge focus with Trials Evolution, it’s great to find that the same focus is brought with Trials Fusion, featuring a more powerful and improved toolset. Though the Track Editor is still an overwhelming and threatening feature when you first jump into it, players will soon become much more comfortable with it the more they play around with it. Though it could become frustrating to begin with, especially with the controller user-interface taking some getting used to, it all pays off when you get the hang of it. Because this toolset is the exact same software that the developers were using to make their tracks, players are more than capable of producing ones to the same high quality as RedLynx, and then share them with the world. Players have the freedom to play any one of these user-generated tracks when they like from the hub which usefully sorts the content into different categories. Though the days are currently young for the Trials Fusion content community, the tracks made so far are already impressive, and this quality can only improve as the fan base increases and as they become more familiar with the tools.
Graphically speaking, Trials Fusion is impressive, displaying sharp graphics and often providing tasty vistas, each track is as much of a joy to play as it is to look at with plenty of details smattered about to give each area life and a sense of identity. Adopting a futuristic flavour over the urban, and grungy styling of previous games, Trials has never looked better. The colours in particular are vibrant, while objects are clean and very sharp, topped off with a glossy sheen. While this vision of the future is hardly original, the art team at RedLynx have breathed their own wild creativity into it to create a fantastic array of scenarios and areas that are done with such grandeur that it’s hard to not enjoy them all. Though there is often a brief spell of texture pop-in when restarting tracks and occasional visual bugs, these do very little to dampen the visual experience.
To reflect this change in theme, the soundtrack has also had an overhaul, trading the heavy rock tracks and hip hop for electronic beats and a choir of synths. Despite this choice in music fitting perfectly with the overall theme, it can’t be helped that as a result the game lacks the same attitude as previous games in this franchise, and I often found myself playing my own music over the game to compensate for this. It’s not that the soundtrack is bad, it’s actually a pretty good electronic set, I just feel as though it doesn’t lend itself too well to the fast-paced, competitive action.
Trials Fusion is the best instalment in the franchise to date, incorporating all the features you know and love (albeit the online multiplayer) and throwing them into a fantastic futuristic setting complete with brilliant track design, multiple vehicles, and a few new features of its own. While the game is increasingly difficult from the beginning, and you will often fail at a lot of the hurdles, you will still come crawling back for just one more attempt until you nail the gold medal. This is a challenging, fun, and rewarding game that deserves your attention whether or not you are a Trials veteran, or a newbie.
- The same great Trials action you come to expect.
- Fantastic graphics and theme.
- Brilliant and challenging track design.
- FMX events are a fun alternative (if not under used).
- Track challenges are great fun.
- Lots of replayability.
- Brilliantly addictive.
- Big focus on user generated content.
- Track Editor is powerful…
- …if not overwhelming and frustrating to begin with.
- Lack of online multiplayer (at launch).
- Soundtrack isn’t as good as previous entries.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.