Review: Trials Fusion
“Welcome to the future” – the first words you hear when you boot up Trials Fusion on PlayStation 4 are pretty much the best way to describe it – a look forward into the crazy future of people riding bikes over a lot of things that explode. Not much different from the standard Trials fare then – the entire game is basically iterative over the previous Trials entry, but thankfully the gameplay tuneup is mostly positive, and is heavily recommendable as an entry point to the Trials series.
For those of you who don’t know what the series is, Trials started a fair few years ago. It’s a motorcycle game – you balance your rider by tilting them left and right, accelerating and braking across an ever trickier series of obstacle courses, often filled with the most extravagant dangers. The core of the Trials gameplay has always balanced on this simple concept – balance and control of your bike.
Trials Fusion continues to carry on the legacy of the series with arguably the best “feeling” gameplay in the series so far. All the bikes, from the simple all rounder Baggie to the all-engrossing power of the Pit Viper, every bike handles distinctively and feels great underneath your fingers. Even the “joke” bikes, like the quad-bike you use on one of the midpoints in the campaign, and the pedal bike you unlock at the end, each have their own feel and level of mastery required to tame them.
The levels themselves take place in a new theme for Trials – the future is filled with shiny chrome and glass, snow-capped mountains, and sometimes takes trips to exotic deserts, tropical jungles and all sorts of other places, and the game looks amazing – a solid 60 frames per second lends to an amazing presentation of graphical effects. Unfortunately it appears the game has some sort of streaming texture issues – if I move too quickly across a level, the textures will often be extremely low resolution for a moment.
Much praise needs to be given to the design of the levels themselves – the difficulty curve feels much more balanced, especially in comparison to previous Trials games. Spikes come much softer than previously, and you’re always given a good set of tutorials for the new techniques you’ll need to learn. Frustration still exists, much like in the previous games, but it’s kept to a minimum by the tracks.
Variety is achieved fairly through special “skill games” and FMX tracks which are special situations where you aim for high scores on silly activities and do tricks across simple stunt tracks, which gives a break from the massive amounts of precision driven perfection the rest of the game gives. Every track has 3 extra challenges to come back and do as well, including hidden areas to try out when you’re skilled enough to seek them, giving the campaign a lot of replayability for the motorcycle elite.
A lot of the game’s fun comes from the extremely high skill ceiling – there’s always ways you can improve. Improve your times through the levels, and try to aim for zero mistakes. Trials also likes to keep the social element front and center – you’re always racing your friend’s ghosts along the track, with leaderboards and replays accessible with a few buttons in the menus. It’s always fun to improve your time enough to get a higher grade medal, and kick your friend’s time off the leaderboard at the same time. You even get a small message on the bottom of the screen. And if your friend manages to beat your time, you get a notification in-game to go back and get on top once more.
Unfortunately the multiplayer only stretches that far mostly at this point – the online multiplayer component is inaccessible for this review, with the only real multiplayer being the local multiplayer. It’s a shame these features don’t exist yet, as real-time competition would round out the Trials experience nicely, but unfortunately it seems we’re going to have to wait for it.
Outside of the actual game, you have customization of your rider and bikes with money you earn via getting medals on the tracks and progress through the game. It’s a nice little touch, but nothing game changing. There’s a story to follow about the Trials Fusion universe told by two voices that play throughout the stages, although I found myself turning them off after the first time through. They’re talented voice actors and the banter is often humorous, but it would eventually become distracting on levels you need to repeat to practice on. Thankfully you’re given the option to turn them off.
The level editor seen in the last Trials game remains extremely powerful, with plenty of ways to modify the game and create lots of tricky trials for players to play. The longevity in this game will definitely come from clever minds working on the track editor. The one slight downside is that tutorials aren’t included in game, but the game prompts a YouTube channel which will contain the tutorials eventually.
A little note for PS Vita owners: through some black magic, Trials Fusion plays magnificently through remote play – while the advantage in the bigger, more sensitive analog stick is obvious with the DualShock 4, I managed to play all the way from the beginning to the final level set of the campaign with no control issues. It’s a great demonstration of how your Vita can play PS4 games.
I was worried that with the corny as all heck “Welcome to the future” that opens the theme song to Trials Fusion would eventually start to grind my nerves, but as I slipped into a perpetual chain of riding through the varied track selection, destroying my friends’ times and taking in the sights, it often made me a lot happier to hear that sound byte – I knew I was about to play an awesome game. Trials Fusion is awesome and it comes as a recommendation to all PS4 owners.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Maintains a high degree of gameplay quality
- High level variety with lots of secrets and challenges
- Smoothest difficulty curve in the series so far, great for beginners
- Social element front and center gives a reason to try and try again
- Generally fantastic graphical design
- That earwig theme song is so, so good
- Powerful level editor ensures replay value for years
- Remote play with PS Vita is remarkably good
What I Dislike:
- Some graphical issues with streaming textures
- Lacking online multiplayer at launch
- That earwig theme song will never leave your brain