Trials Fusion (PS4) - ReviewKarl Koebke , posted on 22 April 2014 / 4,510 Views
Free flash game sites were some of my biggest time wasters when I was a college student with lots of free time and little money to use to entertain myself. One of the games I remember most fondly was a Trials demo with a single, simple little course that would kick you out after 10 minutes or so. I spent hours attempting the same thing over and over again until I got to the end of what the demo was willing to give me. RedLynx's Trials series has always caught my eye, but for the first time I've finally had the time and platform to play an entry on with Trials Fusion. While it's certainly a refreshing and fun game for a first timer like myself, I can see how a recent price increase in the series, and some missing as well as some added features could irk long-time fans.
Like other games in the Trials series, Trials Fusion operates on a deceptively simple concept. All you need to do is control your rider's position on the bike and the throttle of your vehicle in an attempt to get past a series of obstacles and complete your journey of going from left to right. There are a few challenges that fall outside of that description, such as skill games with various complications or objectives and trick-based tracks where you try to rack up the highest score possible, but the bulk of your time is spent completing tricky obstacle courses and that is certainly where Trials Fusion is at its best.
There are eight different areas with about six or seven tracks in each, not including training sessions, but how much playtime that equates to can vary wildly. Some tracks took less than a minute to complete while the most time I spent on a track and completed it was about 20 minutes (there's a 30 minute time limit before the game gives up on you completing the track). Getting past an obstacle that you've tried 30 to 40 times gives you a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, but sometimes I felt like it was more luck than finesse that netted me the final victory. Getting through seven of the eight areas gets you to the final credits and the end to what is a half-hearted attempt at a narrative. Oddly, if you go back to a checkpoint in the middle of the voice over it'll cut the narrative off - without the ability to restart it unless you start the entire level over again - which is quite the oversight in a series where restarting at the last checkpoint is as natural and commonplace as breathing.
Practice makes perfect is the name of the game. Career tracks are unlocked by earning medals and you'll have to get gold medals on quite a few tracks in order to unlock later areas. Going back to repeat tracks over and over again to try and perfect your run and get that gold medal emphasizes part of the fun in leaderboard chasing but it also serves as a reminder that the five and a half hours I spent before the credits finally rolled was not all unique content. That said, I barely even touched the almost impossibly difficult Master's Gauntlet courses, which are unlocked when you beat the final career level, and there are a plethora of user created levels to play through, so it's not as though five and a half hours is all $20 buys you.
When you get tired of attempting the same obstacle again and again on the trials tracks you can always move on to the skill challenges and FMX tracks. Skill challenges vary greatly, with some consisting of simple long jumps where you go for the greatest distance, while others are notably more complicated, like a track where your front tire is about to come off and you have to avoid putting weight on it, or where you have to maintain your speed otherwise you'll explode Speed style. They're not all winners but they definitely stand above the FMX tracks for their difficulty and unique mechanics. Tricks in Trials Fusion adopt a “flick it” style system a la EA's skate series, where the right analog stick does all the work, but its implementation is finicky. Since the FMX tracks are few and far between, the trick system gets little introduction and getting anything out of it beyond the most basic couple of tricks is more effort than it's worth. Indeed, I managed to get a gold medal on every FMX track using the same three or four basic tricks, so there's little reason to delve much deeper into the system. There are also a couple trials levels that use ATVs instead of motorcycles, but their increased bulk means that control isn't nearly as important and thus the courses are not as interesting.
Resolution seems to be the talk of the gaming world these days and that put the visuals of Trials Fusion directly into the spotlight before release. Although it can be a pretty game at times, with interesting obstacles that fit well with the setting and attractive background, texture pop-in happens much too often for my liking. The music is also rather grating, but that's due more to the style than its actual quality, so I don't feel like I can hold that against the developers.
Trials Fusion is a fun game for a first timer like myself but I can't help but think there was a near-perfect formula that has been overly tinkered with before I got here. The major additions of ATV and FMX levels are lackluster and somewhat wasted in a game that only has so many developer designed tracks to offer, and that slightly increased price tag for a downloadable title of $20 really is a sticking point. Perhaps these content issues are partly due to the cross-over to the newest generation of consoles, but that's more of an explanation than an excuse. Hopefully RedLynx can cut some of the fat from the next title and give people more of what they really want from a game in the Trials series.
This review is based on a digital copy of Trials Fusion for the PS4
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