When the Trials series first debuted back in 2000, it was a relatively simple, physics-based experience with one goal: get the motorbike rider from one end of the track to the other. Since then, a lot has changed. Now, the franchise has evolved to include all manners of bells and whistles, from intricately detailed tracks to multiplayer races, while also retaining its most essential elements. Players are still trying to get from point A to point B, but almost everything in between has been improved to make Trials more fun.
With the introduction of Trials Fusion – the fifth proper entry in the series – developer RedLynx has perfected the formula they created almost 15 years ago, while also trying to give the game its own identity. There’s no question that Trials Fusion is the best iteration of the franchise thus far, but only because it improves on many of the past games’ faults. In other words, Trials Fusion is, at its most basic, more Trials, but that isn’t a bad thing.
The most noticeable improvement in Trials Fusion is, of course, the visuals. RedLynx has officially ushered the Trials franchise into the next-gen with improved graphical fidelity across the board. Tracks have a greater scope, are much more detailed, and each has its own personality whether it’s a futuristic lab, a decaying temple, or a rainy city. No more dank warehouse after dank warehouse. There’s also a greater sense of creativity at play in the track designs, with many featuring unique lighting, perspective, or even weather treatments. At times it can be a little hard to follow the rider, and there are a few graphical hitches here and there, but those issues are few and far between. For the most part, the visuals of Trials Fusion help push the game forward with a crisper presentation and a more exciting selection of tracks.
Alongside improved visuals, RedLynx has also fine-tuned the physics in Trials Fusion to make for a less frustrating end product. While controlling a rider is still as “loose-y goose-y” as it ever was, there is a greater sense of control when trying to execute precise actions. To be fair, RedLynx zeroed in on the right feel for the franchise with Trials Evolution, but they have reinforced those mechanics here. Like with the visuals, the controls are not perfect, but they are the best version of them thus far.
Better control and physics are important because Trials Fusion‘s biggest new feature involves FMX, or trick-based tracks. While the introduction of tricks might seem counter-intuitive to the Trials credo, RedLynx smartly segregates the feature from the core experience. Players can perform tricks whenever they like, but they are only a requirement on the game’s score-based FMX tracks. FMX tracks, however, take on a completely different look than your average Trials track. They feature massive jumps and encourage players to combine tricks mid-air in order to increase their score multiplier. FMX is certainly a welcome addition to the Trials family, and it even carries that signature Trials sensibility.
What makes tricks in Trials so unique is their physics-based nature. While tricks in most games are reserved to a simple series of button presses, Trials Fusion asks the player to actually recreate the trick using the right joystick. So, if they want to do a “Superman,” for example, players will have to try to swing their rider’s legs off the pedals while also shifting their body backward, all while soaring through the air. Players can also introduce flips into the mix and chain specific tricks together, which makes the whole FMX system a lot of fun. On some occasions executing a trick might be a little frustrating, but that’s to be expected. It’s a new feature and one that invites a lot of randomness, but for a first attempt RedLynx has found a way to make tricks feel like another key piece of their unique product.
In addition to tricks, RedLynx has also included track-specific challenges for all of the game’s 58 courses. These challenges vary in difficulty but most require the player approach a track with a completely different mindset. One might ask the player to navigate a course hunting out secrets (yes, Trials Fusion features plenty of those), or execute a certain number of flips during a run, or even run a whole course without leaning – every challenge is unique. More importantly, these challenges give players another reason to replay tracks beyond simply shooting for a better time, which was a smart move on RedLynx’s part.
But perhaps RedLynx smartest move is making Trials Fusion a more forgiving experience overall. In past games, the line between success and failure was so razor thin that was hard for casual gamers to have any fun with Trials. With Fusion, however, RedLynx widened that line to make the game more approachable overall, and as a result they have helped the game maintain a level of entertainment before the difficulty begins ramping up. Don’t misunderstand, many of the game’s levels can get brutal, but even then Trials Fusion doesn’t try to shut the door on less skilled players. Rather, it’s still possible to earn a gold or silver medal on tracks without being perfect.
Aside from those new features, though, Trials Fusion is a very familiar product. Like Trials Evolution it includes a full suite of menu options including multiplayer races – currently in local format only – a robust track editor/creator, and a selection of cosmetic rider customization options. But even though it may be familiar there’s still a lot to do in Trials Fusion and plenty of areas that could occupy a decent amount of players’ attention, not to mention the potential time sink that comes with player-created levels. It’s just important to note what is offered with the game now that it’s $40 and not $15.
With all that being said, Trials Fusion is still a successful culmination of the lessons learned from all prior releases, and as a result it is the most refined entry in the franchise thus far, even if it’s not the best. It will likely disappoint those gamers who were hoping for the same leap forward that Trials Evolution was compared to Trials HD, but Fusion is, at its core, more of that addictive gameplay on better looking and more varied tracks, and with a cool new trick system, so it’s hard to criticize the game for giving fans more of what they enjoy. There’s even some semblance of a story peppered throughout, if you can believe it. Diminishing returns may come into play if the next game doesn’t push the formula forward, but as it stands, Trials Fusion is another great time with a unique franchise.
Are you interested in playing Trials Fusion? What about the game has you the most excited? Let us know in the comments below.
Trials Fusion is out now for PC, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided an Xbox One code for this review.
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