"The entire system can be learned in around two minutes, yet players will still be honing their skills several hours into the game's campaign, and the game's one-button checkpoint and level reset mechanics make it very easy to do so."
Having never played much of the previous entries in the Trials franchise, I came into this review with tempered expectations. How much mileage could you possibly get out of the game’s simple physics-based motorcycle racing? Well, several hours later and with tired eyes, I am here to tell you that Trials: Fusion is a fiendishly difficult and addictive puzzle/racing hybrid that promises hours upon hours of immensely satisfying gameplay.
Fusion’s core concept is very simple. Players must navigate through a series of 3D tracks on a 2D plane, using only their accelerator, brake, and the left analog stick to balance your rider. Most levels challenge you simply to get from point A to B in the fastest time—and with the fewest crashes—possible. The entire system can be learned in around two minutes, yet players will still be honing their skills several hours into the game's campaign, and the game's one-button checkpoint and level reset mechanics make it very easy to do so.
Going back to replay tracks is essential to the experience. Not only are there three medals to win for each track, but there are also three sub-challenges that can completely change how you play that particular level. You may complete one track in a decent time with no faults, but then the game challenges you to come back and do the same while completing 10 backflips, or keeping your front wheel off the ground for a large portion of the race. Some levels offer skill challenges to break up the experience, enticing players to compete in big air or trick events to add variety to the game.
"The courses themselves are varied and gorgeous. Levels are divided into eight events, and while each uses their own distinct palette of background and track features, no two individual courses felt overly similar."
As you earn medals, you will earn experience to add to your character’s level and money to earn unlocks to customize the appearance of your rider. And while these rewards are essential for many similar games, it never seemed to motivate me more than the simple satisfaction of completing a challenge. The courses themselves are varied and gorgeous. Levels are divided into eight events, and while each uses their own distinct palette of background and track features, no two individual courses felt overly similar. In the urban section, for example, one event sees you ride through the city’s marina bunny-hopping from one yacht to the next, while another track has you whipping double backflips off of the backs of blimps. Pyrotechnics, collapsing bridges, see-saw points, and launch pads add to the variety to both the visuals and the gameplay experience. Some of my favorite tracks includes moving floors, forcing players to be launched into the air to seemingly crash into the floor below before the track appears in front of you at a moment’s notice.
"A very impressive level editor promises that gamers will have plenty more to experience after the main campaign is over."
The game’s sense of humor is also present throughout. The game features two computerized announcers, a disinterested male voice and a female voice that is clearly inspired by GLaDOS from Portal, who routinely cajole or congratulate you for your accomplishments. These audio tracks are linked to every course, meaning you will hear the same line over and over again as you restart the level, but they can be turned off at any time and offer quite a few jokes that had me laughing out loud. There is also an overwhelming sense of doom for your little rider, as each and every course ends in seeing him cross the finish line only to be launched into a lake or a pile of crates or off of a skyscraper and into traffic 40 stories below. As difficult as some courses are to complete, that little moment of humor at the end can be a nice reminder that yes, you are having fun.
The game works well as a single-player experience, but it is meant to be shared. A very impressive level editor promises that gamers will have plenty more to experience after the main campaign is over, and I am eagerly looking forward to some of the challenges that users are sure to come up with. Four player races are another available, and you also have the option of racing through single-player races against your friends’ ghosts to compete for the top spot on the international leaderboards. Trials: Fusion is also one of the first games that really makes me want to use the video-sharing function of the current generation, as so many accomplishments you earn will have you looking around the room for someone to share a “did you see that?” moment. As more players pick up the game, I am sure the social features of the game will take more center stage than they have at this point in my experience.
There is little about Trials: Fusion that I would not recommend, and with the fairly limited number of titles available for next-gen adopters—as well as the fact that this will be the first title in the series available on a Sony platform—I suspect many gamers will jump on board for a ride. It serves as a great introduction to the franchise, contains hours of content, and provides a worthy challenge. Do not miss it.
Review by: Nick Walge | Reviewed on: Playstation 4