Trials Fusion Review (PS4)
One of my favorite games from the previous console generation was Trials Evolution for the Xbox 360. It was an absolutely fantastic game that everyone should play. It looked great, had great amazing controls, and it got hard as balls the further you got in. So when Trials Fusion was announced, I was hyped as hell. A next-gen Trials game? How could that not be fantastic? One or two ways, apparently, but it’s still goddamn awesome.
Unlike Evolution and the other games in the series, Fusion attempts to build a world where a man can drive a dirtbike down a cliffside and reset time over and over again. It’s the future, because of course it is. Mankind has developed hovercrafts and clean energy and advanced artificial intelligence programs, and Trials riders are revered. Or something like that. It’s really vague on the details of what is actually happening in the world, letting the players build an idea for themselves with the level design and the AIs that talk to you in-game, Cindy and George (probably spelled wrong here because it’s the future and shit). George seems pretty basic, just giving out information about the environment and such. Cindy is your personal AI, teaching you the ropes of Trials and also maybe falling in love with you. As you get further and further into the game, things start to get weirder and weirder with the two of them, with George becoming more sinister and Cindy becoming more infatuated with you. It is one of the best things about Fusion to me. Along with the level design, which includes giant statues of Trials riders, it helps paint a picture of the world Fusion takes place in, which is a place I would really like to know more about.
Unfortunately, the AI are also a major downside of the game, too. If you play Trials like me, then as soon as you fault you instinctively restart the level so you can get a Gold rating on a zero fault run. And since the AI voice-over is triggered at certain checkpoints, you will hear the same dialogue over and over again to the point where it is the most annoying thing in the world. On the harder difficulty tracks where there’s that one jump right at the beginning that is almost impossible, you can have the same line repeated to you 20 times before you manage to get over the lip and finally move on. Sometimes the lines don’t repeat on the later checkpoints, so if you fault partway through a line that has some really important details in it but you restart at the checkpoint before it’s finished, you won’t get to hear what was being said until you restart the track.
But that might not be such a bad thing, since you’ll get to play the track again. RedLynx has not missed a step with the gameplay this time around. Just like all the other Trials games, the gameplay is based on leaning to adjust the pitch of your bike in mid-air and to climb hills, get over obstacles, and finish the course. It plays fantastically, like Evolution. No real noticeable change in the base gameplay, but they have added something new. Fusion has a trick system, which is used on special FMX tracks. You use the right stick to control your body and the left stick to control the bike. Aligning them both in the proper position will pull off a trick. The detection on where your body and bike are can be a bit finicky, resulting in you spamming some tricks because you couldn’t get the position quite right to pull off the trick you wanted. And controlling it is another beast all together. You control the body of the rider from the legs up. Meaning that if you want the rider with his legs above the bike, you can’t just push the stick up and he’ll go up. You’ll have to swing the legs around the back end of the bike and then throw them into the air. And your rider has mass, too, so him swinging around affects your bike. It does some getting use to, but I really enjoyed the trick system. It added something new to the game so it wasn’t just a new version of the same old thing, and it’s pretty funny to watch the rider freak out when you’re trying to line him and the bike up just right.
Speaking of new stuff, we also have new bikes this time around, including a quad. Unlike the other games which all had stats for the individual bikes, Fusion just gives you some flavor text about it and you’re left to try to figure out what the hell each bike has. But they seem to fall into pretty recognizable categories. You’ve got your beginner bike which isn’t great for stuff down the line, you’ve got your heavier and faster bike which is kinda shit for the late game stuff, and you’ve got your super lightweight one which bounces like a son of a bitch on ramps. The FMX bike is a bit of a mix between the second and third bikes, and then there’s just a bicycle, so the quad is the only one that really stands out. Mostly because it’s really fucking huge compared to the rest. I only played it on one set of levels because it was the one the bike select defaulted too, but it was heavy when I played it. Which probably means it was only meant for that one set of levels. Otherwise it controlled like the rest.
The final new thing added to the gameplay are challenges, little side objectives that you can complete that give you bonus XP to unlock more character outfits and bike parts. Each level has three, some are unique to those levels and others appear multiple times in other levels, like the one where you have to have a zero fault run and not lean your rider or never let go of the gas. They don’t affect what metal you get at the end unless you missed the time cutoff for one because you were trying to complete a challenge. They’re just kind of there, another thing to beat to perfect the game. I’m probably going to kill myself trying to complete them all.
But I’m going to have less of a time killing getting Golds on all the tracks (Platinums, though, I’m fucking dead). Playing through up to the highest rated difficulty tracks, I was doing bizarrely well. On the hard tracks I would still fault 20 goddamn times before I even saw where the finish line was, but I was still coming away with Silvers and Golds. It seems like the developers dropped the requirements for each metal down considerably for the harder difficulty tracks. The tracks themselves stayed at the same level of difficulty, but the medals were much easier to get.
Fusion also differentiates itself from previous Trials games by having themed groups of levels. In Trials HD you were just in a warehouse the entire time. In Evolution you got a much more varied selection of level designs, they didn’t really have a connecting theme between the different tiers. In Fusion there are five or so groups of levels, each with a theme tying them all together. You’ve got a future city group, a desert group, an ice group, and all the individual levels follow that theme. And they all look fantastic. With this being on the new hardware, the level designers were able to go nuts with the levels, modelling so much detail into the stuff going on in the background. If you tried to pull some of the shit they pull off in this game in Evolution, the framerate would shit itself to death. But in Fusion, we’ve got a solid framerate all the way through. Also, the texture pop-in has been reduced drastically from what it was in Evolution. If you restart a level a bunch of times the textures will have some problems, but overall they do a great job loading those things in the first time.
The game has some problems loading other things in, though. Specifically the bike selection screen and any of the customization screens. When you go to pick a bike or customize your rider, the menus can take upwards of 15 seconds to load. I know that doesn’t seem like much but it felt like an eternity waiting for the things to finally pop-up. Once they’re open it’s great, but that initial load time is terrible. And it happens every time. You could have just been changing the look of your bike and rider and went back to the level select, only to realize you’d forgotten about some new piece of gear you just unlocked. So you go back to the customization menu and have to wait the same amount of time again, and it is infuriating.
Finally, there’s the user generated content. This is the real thing that keeps games like this going. A community of people who love the game are given a set of tools and start pumping out levels. Some of them are awesome, some of them are shit, and at least 300 of them are remakes of level 1-1 from Super Mario. From what I’ve seen, this game is going to last a while. Three days after launch there were already over 2000 user created tracks, and the ones I played were really well done. I didn’t try creating one because I have all the spacial awareness of a doorstop when it comes to making levels, but I can still enjoy the hard work of other people who can actually make things that are fun to play or, barring that, playable at all.
Trials Fusion is not as good as Trials Evolution to me. I miss the stats on the bike selection screen, the repetition of the voice-over got super irritating, the loading times sucked a lot of the enjoyment I was having out, and it wasn’t as satisfying getting Golds on the higher difficulty tracks. But it’s still fucking Trials, and I love fucking Trials. The gameplay is as satisfying as ever, the levels look absolutely gorgeous, the new trick system is really cool once you get used to it, and I love the world they’ve built for this game. If you’re a fan of Trials, you must get this game. If you’ve never played Trials, then what the fuck are you still doing here?
It has some problems, but Trials Fusion is still an amazing looking game with fantastic gameplay, a thriving community, and a really interesting world built around it.