Each and every time I boot Trials Fusion the same catchy techno tune plays, uttering the words “Welcome to the future. Man. Machine. The future”. This song encapsulates Fusion, a game that advances the Trials series by combining its titular physics-based trials with a set of fresh ideas and unique challenges to create the greatest Trials game to date.
For the uninitiated, the aim of Trials is to ride your motorbike from one end of a track to the other, jumping hazardous gaps and surmounting obstructions. You can accelerate, brake and tilt forwards or backwards, and must utilise all of these to stay on a predetermined track. While during the earlier stages of Fusion tilting is needed to follow the natural curvature of a track, later stages require perfect balance across some truly gruelling obstacles.
Trials Fusion is comprised of a series of tracks that gradually increase in challenge. While failure only rears its ugly head in the earlier levels from fluffing up a jump, the later levels require a genuine amount of skill to succeed. It becomes essential to master techniques such as bunny-hopping otherwise it becomes near-impossible to pass some of the final stage tracks, let alone aim to achieve a faultless run and be rewarded with a shiny gold medal.
While medals are all well and good, I found a greater amount of satisfaction was achieved by being hooked online and beating my friends’ times. Each level tracked my time against my friends (and the world) and ranked me against their times. Each friend that had a faster time than myself popped up as a floating circle while I played and gave me a general gist of their progression as I raced. Conversely, each slower friend has to subserviently follow my footsteps as they eat my dust. An extra little kicker is that each faster friend I beat is given a cheeky in-game notification informing them that I’ve beaten them, and while they might cry I certainly feel great.
A fresh addition to Trials is the inclusion of level challenges. Each level has three rather unusual tasks which can range between performing 10 flips while completing a faultless run, to finding hidden switches, catching a penguin, or playing the level with a first-person perspective. They’re varied, wacky and give a huge reason to replay all the tracks. As someone who is pretty good at Trials, although I find the Expert tracks to be an absolute pain in the backside, I found this gave me plenty a reason to retread old ground where I had gained a gold medal on my first attempt.
Another addition to Trials is the VFX. Effectively, this is Trials meets Skate. By twiddling the right analogue stick while in mid-air, different tricks can be performed. These can be combined to showboat as you race. There are a few dedicated levels that require you to gain a certain score rather than reach the end as quick and with as few faults as possible, and these are fun as a standalone mode. Nonetheless, I’m glad that this new mechanic is given a backseat within Fusion, as a larger focus could have upset the balance of game mechanics that Trials has taken so long to perfect. Still, performing a ‘Proud Hero’ pose as you cross a track’s finish line makes for a great rub-it-in-your-friends-faces replay, and as a smug human being I’m glad for the option to do so.
There’s a plethora of other brilliant things I could talk about: There’s the brilliant collection of skill games that have you seeing how far you can wheelie on a rather precarious track, competing in the Trials Triathalon, and taking on the Endless Trials – my new favourite thing since sliced bread – to name a few. Then there’s the integration of a story, which tells the tale of two A.I.s who narrate you as you play, as well as why Trials exists in the far future.
It’s cleverly told, integrating a funny and intriguing script and incidental level details, and kept me hooked from start to finish. Finally, there’s Track Central. This is Trials community hub that allows anyone to create custom levels for others to play. It’s the same track creator that the developers use, it’s simple to pick up although extremely time consuming to create something amazing. The community has already begun spitting out brilliant custom tracks and this will only increase over time, creating an almost-endless supply of Trials. Online multiplayer is notably absent. While local multiplayer in the form of Supercross still exists, 2-4 players all race against each other on bespoke, identical, parallel tracks, no longer can you challenge others to a dual across the many singleplayer Trials tracks. This was a feature I used a lot in Trials Evolution and I’m sad to see it removed.
Red Lynx claim that they’ve scrapped the traditional online multiplayer mode for a whole new and unique experience. The problem is, it doesn’t appear to be in Fusion yet. There’s a section on the main menu labelled “Pyrosequencing” but this isn’t currently available. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for something mind-blowing but am reserving judgement until it materialises.
- + Perfect Level Design
- + Massive Replayability
- + Challenges, challenges, challenges
- - No online multiplayer