You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll spit, hiss and curse the day that the Trials franchise was ever conceived and you’ll seriously consider throwing your console through your TV screen. And yet unlike any other game which dooms you to hours of failure, you’ll wonder why you keep allowing yourself to go through this cycle of abuse over and over again. That is very much the Trials experience. And Trials Fusion doesn’t stray too far away from that formula.
Trials: Evolution had everything, setting a high bar with a suite of customisation options, track creation, online play and genuinely challenging gameplay which could easily consume hours off of your life. It was a polished, tight and technical game that married clever gameplay with some decent horsepower as Red Lynx made bikes exciting again.
The 250cc apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree however, as Trials: Fusion is all that, with a few tweaks here and there to the formula. It isn’t an um…evolution of Trials: Evolution, but it’ll certainly satisfy fans who are back for even more punishment.
The basic gameplay is still exactly the same. It’s you and your tuned motorcycle, up against a world which will throw everything at you, including the kitchen sink. Going forward is deceptively simple, while maintaining that momentum gets a tad trickier as you shift your bodyweight and pray to your gods that you don’t start nipple-surfing or using your face as a buffer to protect your wheels.
While the idea of getting from point A to point B sounds easy, it certainly isn’t. Loops, high heels, ramps and obstacles are in your path and ready to crash you out of getting that perfect run and gold medal. Fail and you’ll get the option to instantly restart from a checkpoint, or get frustrated enough to go all the way back to the beginning so that you can spend an hour mastering a perfect 60 second run.
Just from that description alone, you can already read that the Trials experience is intact. So what does Fusion bring to the table to justify the purchase then? Well it certainly has a shinier veneer, catapulting players out of the mud and into the shiny future as you race through levels pulled from episodes of Tron and Star Trek, with towering buildings and stainless steel ramps painting a prettier course with which players can face-plant in.
Career mode has also seen a slight revision, now tasking players with nailing jumps, flips and trips as it gives you the option to complete goals along the way to the finish line. They’re not mandatory, but these objectives do provide a little something extra for the seasoned Trials player who is looking for something more out of the game.
The level editor is back as well, having been gently reworked to be more fluid and welcoming to newcomers in Create mode. It’s a powerful addition that would make the game feel incomplete if it was omitted, and some of the custom creations that are available for download can put the Red Lynx developers to shame.
So what you’ve got is a game that is very familiar to what has come before. Veterans will feel right at home with the controls and layout, tracks feel just right and the punishment is as addictive as ever. Trials Fusion doesn’t take any risks as it lays out those massive obstacle courses, but it doesn’t flip backwards either as it creates a refined and tweaked version of the formula.
With Trials Fusion, what you’re looking for on PC and new-gen platforms is quite simply the same experience with a prettier finish and faster loading times. And it checks all those boxes easily. There are still a few niggles however.
The announcers that populate the game quickly become tiring when you attempt a stage for the twentieth time, but they can be mercifully silenced. And for a game that is heavy on restarts, the option to also restart with a different motorcycle instead of exiting and going back to select a new one, can also be grating at times.
Likewise with the new trick system, which has players wiggle the right analogue stick around to pull off a stunt. it’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t come off properly and could have used some more polish, or have been omitted entirely. It’s another optional piece of gameplay, but it clearly does need more work.
There’s also the loss of the Skill Game Circus from Trials Evolution, replaced instead by a small handful of challenges instead. There’s no option for a proper online tournament, with players instead relegated to local multiplayer races while Red Lynx works on bringing back that mode months from now in a free update. It makes the game feel a tad sparse in certain sections.
Trials Fusion isn’t a terrible game at all, and it certainly carries a high dose of addictive pain. But it’s not a daredevil jumping over a dozen flaming school buses either. It’s a middle-aged businessman instead, content to court danger by covering up flaws with a business paunch before going on a weekend breakfast run.
Last Updated: April 29, 2014