Trials Fusion Review: Falling With Style
Trials Fusion is a game with a bit of an identity crisis. It rests on the laurels of the Trials formula and that isn’t all that bad, after all previous Trials games have provided dozens of hours of content and an over-the-top type of fun that has been missing from gaming in recent years. Yet you can see several ideas that want to push the series beyond its past successes. Fusion tests out some innovative new ideas, putting a twist on that successful Trials formula but as soon as it surprises you with unique level design or a change in art style it returns to being just what you’d expect from a Trials game. That’s what you wanted from it anyway, right?
You probably don’t need too much of an explanation of how a Trials game works. Its a physics based racing game where players try to not wipe out on creative and difficult tracks. Balancing your vehicle is a fun and challenging endeavor, as you would expect with this franchise.
It isn’t just about landings and wipe outs, Fusion adds a trick system to the mix. This trick system isn’t as smooth as I would have hoped, relying on somewhat difficult right analog stick movements to pull off specific tricks. Of course, these tricks throw off your rider’s weight on his bike so this adds another layer to landing. You’ll try to pull off cool tricks in the air and land perfectly but 99% of the time you’ll start a trick and realize you have lost total control of your character and you’ll frantically try to over-correct. As Buzz Lightyear said in Toy Story, this isn’t flying, its falling with style.
Red Lynx continues to make near perfect controls. Controls in Trials can take some getting use to for new comers but Fusion continues Red Lynx’s habit of getting accurate and precise controls, which may or may not work to a player’s disadvantage depending on how well they keep their cool. Also, ATVs are new to the game as well. These give you four wheel drive and a lot more control over your vehicle but ultimately you’ll play most of the game on bikes.
The trick system is mostly optional. Other than a few tracks in the single player campaign that rank your trick score and some tutorial levels you can ignore it altogether for the other 4/5ths of the game. Its a nice addition and a logical next step for the series but it feels unreliable and is ultimately forgettable. Still, its a new feature that isn’t forced on the player at all times so it doesn’t take away from the overall package that much.
Level creation is the biggest reason to buy a Trials game and Fusion continues that trend with an amazing level creator and online tools to share tracks with the world. The bulk of your time playing Trials Fusion will be spent creating or playing other people’s courses.
Any game with a track creator like this is sure to be worth your money. What can be said about the Trials fan community’s knack for creating awesome levels that hasn’t been said already? If Trials Fusion was released as a $20 game with just this track creator it would still be worth your time and money. There are over 1,000 parts to use when crafting your tracks so the possibilities are really endless.
Each level also has three challenges to complete, raising your score in the process and improving your standing on the leaderboards. These challenges are generally hard to accomplish and will likely cost you a perfect run but they add some extra fun to a formula that didn’t need a whole lot of tweaking.
Fusion tries to be funny but usually falls flat miserably. Some of the jokes that the in-game announcers say are downright cringe worthy. I suppose their is an audience somewhere for these childish jokes. Someone will have a laugh riot at how your rider does his best Homer Simpson scream when falling but the humor feels like its pandering to the wrong audience, not the people that will spend $40 on the game with the season pass.
Visually Trials Fusion is a mixed bag. I played it on the PS4 and at times it looked stunning in full 1080p. The art style is good but painfully under-utilized and the futuristic setting helps to change things up. There are some levels that use a pulled back camera with shadowy art style similar to what you’ve seen in platformers like Rayman Legends and Donkey Kong Country Returns.
The level I’m speaking about is Sunrise Dash, a very impressive departure for the game from an art perspective. This stands out as a big change graphically and it got me excited to see how the game will take advantage of this different art direction but sadly this happens very little in the single player mode. It ends up feeling like a giant tease for something more visually striking.
While the game does look pretty, it is clearly cross-generation game even in 1080p on PS4. Textures look nice but not up to PS4 level. Textures pop-in way more than they should and some look downright awful but these are usually found in areas where the player isn’t suppose to visit often. These issues don’t take too much away from the game but its rather annoying if you’re playing on a new console where you would expect less of this with the PS4 and Xbox One’s more powerful hardware.
That said, the PS4 version is the definitive console version to play as it runs in 1080p and at 60 frames per second. In my time playing Fusion I didn’t experience many frame rate issues. Xbox One players will be disappointed to hear that after a day one patch will raise the game’s resolution to 900p. Last-gen players on Xbox 360 will of course have to deal with 600p though every version appears to run at a solid 60fps.
Performance wise the game is a little buggy. Along with the pop-in issues the game crashed on me several times while using the PS4 share button. After sharing a screenshot I tried to return to the game but it had frozen entirely. This happened while using track central and while playing the single player mode, so this could be an issue you run into as well.
The theme song that plays in the game’s menu, “Welcome to the Future”, seems to over-promise on the game. It says, and this must be a deliberate move by Red Lynx, “Light Years Ahead of Evolution.” Like Trials Evolution, you mean? I wouldn’t say Fusion is “light years” ahead of Red Lynx’s 2012 classic but it is very good. Simply put Trials Fusion provides an insane amount of fun. Measuring how many hours of enjoyment that you’ll get out of it is almost impossible because with Track Central and the six upcoming DLC packs you’ll always have new content to test drive. Trials Fusion isn’t light years ahead of past Trials games but it does reside in its own time zone.
Trials Fusion isn't "light years ahead" of past games like the game's theme song implies but it is still very fun and adds some cool new tricks (pun intended). Visually Fusion is disappointing on PS4/Xbox One and it contains several bugs at launch. These issues can't stop the game from being fun though and since you're having such a good time its easy to overlook them. Review copy provided by Ubisoft.