“Welcome to the future.”
This is the first thing you'll hear when launching Trials Fusion for the PlayStation 4. Well, after the RedLynx and Ubisoft logo, the latter which is still shocking to see even now, three years after Ubisoft's purchase of RedLynx was made final. It's hard to imagine any big name publisher funding a game known for its extreme difficulty, but somehow it makes sense when you think about it: Ubisoft is all about diversity. We're getting away from ourselves, though, so back to Trials Fusion.
The line “Welcome to the future” has a hint of duality behind it, referencing the fact that not only is this the first Trials game made almost exclusively for the next generation of systems (which are the “future” of gaming, as it were) but that the entire game is planted solely in the future. No longer is Trials set in dingy warehouses and wooded areas (though those still exist) as the franchise now boasts a futuristic, metallic, high-tech looking sheen to it. Another allusion to the current generation of systems? Perhaps. Trials Fusion drips with those small touches, creating another stellar entry into this million plus selling series.
If you've only owned a PlayStation system for the last few years, Trials Fusion is the first entry in the series you'll have the pleasure of getting acquainted with. The series has been available on the Xbox 360 and PC for many years, with each iteration of the series selling a few million units. It's a shame that the series has never been released on the PlayStation family before, because then I wouldn't have to struggle to describe it.
Trials Fusion is a physics-based platformer / puzzle game where speed may be king but balance reigns supreme. The main character is not just the rider but also his trusty steed, appearing in the form of a two-wheeled machine that will lead him to his death again and again.
Like any good platformer, Trials Fusion's goal is to get from the starting point to the ending point by traversing the screen from left-to-right. In your path are devious jumps, steep inclines, fans that shoot you hundreds of feet into the air, bottomless pits and the cruelty of the level designers.
Completing any given jump requires the right amount of speed but also for your rider to be in the right position: hence balance reigning supreme. For example, lean too far back and you may find that after landing a jump, your bike tips backwards causing you to crash. This is where the puzzle element comes into play: You need to determine the correct speed and angle of your rider to successfully navigate whatever element of the environment stands in your path. Be warned that you will rarely complete any given jump the first time you attempt it.
You will crash, and crash often.
Trials Fusion label crashes as faults, almost as if to say “It's your fault you crashed.” It will be, too, as every level is perfectly designed to get through with zero faults so when you crash, it's likely because of your mistake. It's just a matter of learning the level layout and controlling your rider with the utmost in precision, same as any old-school classic platformer.
If completing the level wasn't enough of a challenge, Trials Fusion puts time limits on each level that must be met to receive one of four medals. Simply completing the track awards you with a bronze medal, but you won't stop there, will you? This is a game that's made to be replayed again and again as you strive to shave off .10 seconds from your time to get the gold and a higher spot on the leaderboard.
It's Not All About Racing
Trials Fusion isn't all about single player platforming puzzle racing as RedLynx adds two game modes to keep things fresh: Skill Games and the FMX Trick courses. Let's start with the good and then segue into the not as good but still fun to play.
Any Trials fan will be overjoyed to see the return of Skill Games, which are tracks that test one specific aspect of your Trials expertise. Example Skill Games include seeing how far you can climb up a steep mountain, how far you can fling your rider off his bike and how far you can wheelie because your front tire is loose and you have a death wish. The only difference with Skill Games in Trials Fusion and past Trials games is that instead of having their own event, one Skill Game is available in every event, and that there are less Skill Games available in Trials Fusion than there are in past Trials games. It's almost not a negative at all to state “this thing is so great I want more of it!” but here we are.
The other mode in Trials Fusion is new to the series overall: The much lauded FMX Trick system. The FMX Trick system uses both analog sticks to perform in-air tricks based on the direction of your bike and position of your rider. It sounds complicated and it kind of is, to be honest. There is a practice mode for the FMX Trick system but you'll likely never feel like you're in complete control of how the system works.
Luckily, there are only a small handful of FMX Trick courses in Trials Fusion and the requirements to get gold are very, very lenient (which is good, because the scoring system is somewhat strange to boot). While you can perform tricks on the other, more standard courses, it serves no purpose. It's almost like the developers realized that the trick system wasn't as great as they originally envisioned and marginalized it as much as they could. I scored a gold on my first attempt at every FMX Trick course (all five or six of them) and never looked back, so any pain you experience with this mode is very short lived. RedLynx should be applauded for trying something new and then applauded even more for reeling it in when they likely realized it wasn't working. In any event, it adds some variety to the game and variety is the spice of life.
A Subtle Story
I can already hear the groans now: “Trials Fusion has a story? What?”
Throughout each track are dueling AI personalities with one, Cindy, becoming self aware during the later tracks. The first time you hear these voice overs, you'll think “Wow, this is a cool feature, a subtle story slyly injected into my normally storyless franchise!”
The 20th time you hear the same voiceovers when replaying a track you'll think “Wow, just shut up already Cindy, I don't care about you wanting to sing.”
Luckily, you can turn the AI voiceovers off, so problem solved. Thanks for thinking ahead, RedLynx.
RedLynx Nails the Difficulty Curve... Almost
You may have heard that the Trials series is difficult. You have heard correctly. If you're a newcomer to the series, this game is going to eat you alive. If you're returning to this series but struggled with it in the past, this game is going to eat you alive. If you're someone who has completed every previous track in every Trials game, well, we'll get to you later.
Unlike past games in the Trials series, Trials Fusion finally gets the difficulty curve right for newcomers. An extensive tutorial segment, complete with pictures, walks you through each new facet of the game as it's unlocked. The game will teach you to bunny hop before attempting the Medium difficulty courses and will show you how to properly scale inclines before attempting the Hard difficulty courses. Novice gamers have asked for years for a proper Trials walkthrough and Trials Fusion delivers.
When you first begin Trials Fusion, you'll almost wonder if the difficulty of the series has been overblown. You're likely to get gold (or close to it) on each of the Beginner tracks on your first try and that streak will likely extend to the Easy tracks as well. However, for your average gamer the game will really start to ramp up the difficulty by the time you get to the Medium set of tracks.
To give you an idea of how how fiendish this game can get, on my pre-release review copy the number of players (re: other reviewers, mostly) on the leaderboard dropped sharply when navigating from the Medium to the Hard courses. When it came to the Extreme courses, maybe 5% of the reviewers even managed to finish one. Yes, I am in the 5% that managed to conquer an Extreme course. Of course, I have played every game in the series to completion before Trials Fusion so I'd be shocked if I didn't finish an Extreme track.
That brings us full circle to talk about how the difficulty will fare among Trials veterans. Simply put, if you're like me you won't really find a challenge until you get to the Extreme tracks. It took me about 3 hours and 30 minutes to get a gold on every Beginner, Easy and Medium track, at least a silver on every Hard track, get the Trials trophy, and then complete a few Extreme tracks. Real talk, though: The Extreme tracks in Trials Fusion are some of the hardest and best the series has ever offered, you'll just wish there was more of them. Keep in mind that the game being “too easy” is really only going to apply to like 1% of all of our readers, those readers who are Trials fanatics, and that there is still a challenge if you decide to go after all the Platinum medals (these damn things are harder than ever to get) or complete every in-game challenge.
Wait, In-Game Challenges?
The Trials series has always been full of easter eggs and hidden areas, whether it's viewing all the death animations your rider goes through after completing each and every track (Pro Tip: Always wait after finishing a track before exiting out) or finding hidden areas in a select few levels.
RedLynx, in a burst of creativity, has decided that every level needs a mix of hidden areas and easter eggs and presents them to you in the form of three in-game challenges to complete per level. These in-game challenges range from the mundane, such as never letting off the throttle and performing a set number of flips on a track, to the well-hidden, such as finding a warp zone or turning your bike into a rocket-power airplane.
The challenges are sometimes clever and, to be quite blunt, sometimes awful. The aforementioned rocket-powered airplane? It controls like a drunken camel on ice skates.
Yes, I know that joke was awful, but it got the point across, didn't it?
Simply put, the majority of the challenges are going to be difficult even for a Trials veteran. Good luck with them. I drew the line at the awful rocket-powered motorcycle.
The Greatest Track Creator of All Time
Trials Fusion contains what may be the single greatest track creator of all time; in fact, it's the same track creator that RedLynx themselves used to design every single track in the game.
My general rule is that you can tell how amazing a level creation tool is by how confusing and obtuse it looks as soon as you enter it. Upon selecting the “Create” mode from the menu, I very quickly nope'd out of there in record time.
To be fair, I did go back later to try and create a track and ended up with some awful abomination that RedLynx would have laughed at me for if I actually uploaded it.
The track creator is extensive and while no tutorial is present, RedLynx provides a full suite of videos on their YouTube channel you can watch to get a feel for it. The track creator offers a new radial menu, example tracks and for the creation-minded individual, hours and hours of fun.
Those of us who aren't into creating can reap the rewards of those who do create, because any player-created track can be uploaded for others to play on. If Trials Fusion ends up like Trials Evolution, we're going to see some amazing works of art in the coming weeks.
A Short Multiplayer Mention
Trials Fusion features local multiplayer (no online, sorry) where up to four racers can compete to see who can complete tracks in the fastest time with the less faults.
I don't really have anything more to add about this mode, I just felt like I should mention it somewhere in the review. To me, Trials never needed multiplayer beyond leaderboards and player ghosts but what I played of the local multiplayer was fun, just like it was on Trials Evolution.
The PlayStation 4 Advantage
Trials Fusion is a beautiful looking game and sounds great on the PlayStation 4. You probably won't be surprised to read that the PlayStation 4 version of the game is in fact the best looking version of the game you can buy.
The PlayStation 4 version of Trials Fusion clocks in at 1080p and a solid 60 frames-per-second, making it one of the few PS4 games to hit this milestone and a fair bit better than the Xbox One version. Just another feather in the cap of the greatness that is Trials and by extension, the PS4.
The game also takes advantage of the DualShock 4 in two small ways. The controller's touchpad is used to both restart a track and pause the game, depending on the side you press in, while the lightbar changes color in multiplayer based on which player you are (red for Player 1, for example). You're already buying the game on PS4 because it's the best looking version, so just think of these DualShock 4 extras as nice bonuses.
Day One Patch
Trials Fusion has a day one patch which is supposed to increase the frame-rate, fix leaderboard issues and better sync the replays. However, in my pre-release build I never once encountered any of these issues and my copy played perfectly. I can only imagine RedLynx and Ubisoft are super perfectionists that are fixing some issue that my simple human eyes couldn't see.
When Sony made the “Greatness Awaits” campaign for the PlayStation 4, they were likely referencing the fact that Trials Fusion was an upcoming release. While the game has a few minor flaws, namely some in-game challenges and the FMX Trick system, no game is perfect. The core of the game, the Trials tracks, are as great as they have ever been and as an added bonus, Trials Fusion is the most stable and bug-free game that RedLynx has ever put out. Thanks Ubisoft!
Trials Fusion is one of the few PlayStation 4 games I've played that I couldn't put down, tearing through the content at a rapid pace because I couldn't get enough of it. It's one of the few games where I'm glad that there is a Season Pass because I will take every bit of Trials Fusion content that RedLynx and Ubisoft releases.
That leads us to the million dollar question: Who should buy Trials Fusion?
Everybody. Every single PlayStation 4 owner.
(Unless you're the type of gamer who hates challenges in their games, hates platformers, hates motorcycles and hates a good time. You're just weird and you'll never find anything on the PlayStation 4 that appeals to you.
Final Score: 9/10
A copy of Trials Fusion was provided to PS4 Experts by Ubisoft for review purposes.
Game Category: Driving / Racing Games
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 4/16/2014