|System: Xbox One*, PS4, PC, Xbox 360|
|Release: April 16, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Language, Mild Violence|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Welcome to the future! We have floating platforms and futuristic cityscapes and A.I.’s that can talk to you like a normal human would… NOW GO DRIVE YOUR MOTORCYLE OFF THAT CLIFF BECAUSE REASONS!!! This has been a short summary of Trials Fusion, the latest in the Trials series of 2D motorcycle platforming games.
If you played one Trials game, then you have played them all, and Trials Fusion is no exception. You are a crazy motorcyclist looking for a thrill by riding his motorcycle in areas he really shouldn’t. Your only real controls in the game are your accelerator, and the ability to shift your weight back and forth on the bike. Think of it as a spiritual successor to Excite Bike, focusing on landing jumps in the right way so as to not lose momentum. Your only real enemies here are the clock and physics. You aren’t racing anyone, you are simply trying to make it to the end of a level in the best time possible, and in one piece.
The big change this time around is that you are in the future… and that’s really about it. The developer, RedLynx, tried to shoehorn in a story about why you just so happen to be riding a motorcycle through volcanoes and construction sites, told through the voice of an A.I. companion, but in all honestly it falls flat. The real payoff of this new setting is in track layout.
The best tracks in Trials Fusion use its futuristic setting perfectly. You’ll hop on moving platforms that rocket you into the air for an unexpected jump, fly over looped tracks that move as you progress through them, rocket into space during your highest jumps, and more. The game has this constant feel of motion, with moving parts of the level always readjusting themselves to show a new path forward… or at least that’s what the game does at its best.
The biggest problem with Trials Fusion, is that the track designer seems to have given up halfway through. While you start the game jumping your way through futuristic landscapes, the whole sci-fi atmosphere is relegated to little more than background flair by the time you reach the middle. Instead, you will simply be jumping of cliffs, sand dunes, and other familiar bits of terrain.
The creativity of the game’s tracks also suffers as the game goes on. Early on, even when you are still learning the ropes of the game, you are challenged to several interesting jumps that require you to really think about how you are handling your bike. The best levels in the game see you jumping off curved platforms, bunny-hopping over small gaps and forcing your bike to drive upside down, but the majority of the tracks are really just the same old progressions of small jumps into large jumps into smaller jumps again. The first time you make a jump that has you fall so far that you get vertigo, it’s kind of cool. The 30th time you make that jump, it just feels repetitive.
That’s actually the biggest problem with Trials Fusion, the repetition. The game is hard, as is to be expected from its franchise, but unlike its predecessors Trials Evolution and Trials HD, Trials Fusion feels kind of cheap. You’ll run across many jumps that you’ll miss by a couple inches or a couple degrees of lean. Instead of experiencing an “AHA” moment, where you finally learn the correct way to do it, it kind of feels like you just have to try over and over and over again until you luck into the right speed and lean.
Trials Fusion does add new challenges to keep the gameplay feeling fresh. These are simple variations on the basic gameplay like, “try to get as far as you can without leaning” or “don’t use your front wheel” or “complete the longest jump.” These challenges are kind of fun, but at the end of the day they feel like small diversions rather than new and innovative game modes. You’ll also find that many challenges are strikingly similar to each other, and by the end of the game, completing them feels like a chore.