The Trials series of games began its life on PC in 2000 and really hit it’s stride on the Xbox 360 during the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade in 2009. It combined 2.5D graphics with just the right amount of insane gameplay and frustration to keep players addicted. It also became a hit along the way. Since then it has spawned a few new games across a number of platforms including hardcopy versions packed with other XBLA titles. Trials Fusion, a new chapter in the series, has just recently launched across a few platforms this week, but I will be taking the game for a spin on the Xbox One.
To be honest this is my first in-depth crack at any Trials game. I have seen it in action, and played it at the local Microsoft store, but I never really picked it up to play at home. As I started to play Fusion at home I knew right away that this was going to be a tough nut to get used to. You guide your motorcycle or ATV on a singular course with massive air times and all kinds of jumps. The game utilizes 3D graphics while interspersing the gameplay on a 2D plane. Your rider can juke or pitch forward and back for balance, and you control your vehicle by thrusting frontward or backward. The control of your bike or ATV is done at lower speeds or while flying through the air off jumps and such.
For the rookie riders out there, thankfully there is a training level for each event to prep you for the madness later on. New players to the series should definitely try the in-depth training levels. It does an admirable job of teaching you how to properly perform stunts, which in turn results in a much more enjoyable experience. As a bonus the training levels are spread across the events so gamers don’t have to sit through long and drawn out tutorials.
Controlling your particular ride is fairly easy in theory, but on the practical side things can get a little dicey quite quickly. The well laid out control scheme helps, although I found I was hitting the gas far hard and would wipe myself out repeatedly. It takes an intuitive touch to figure out how to balance your speed and the position of your rider effectively. If you hammer the gas when your rider leans too far forward while attempting any kind of jump you will find yourself cartwheeling and landing on your virtual head more often than not. Nobody ever wants to use the brake button, but to successfully navigate some of the intricate pathways in the game you will need to master both brake and accelerator. The learning curve for a rookie to the game can be a bit steep, but the extra work pays off in the end. I began to hotdog it after only 15 or 20 mins of painful crashes and bails. The rewards are greater for those that are patient, but be forewarned, this game will make you want to hurl your controller across the room more then you imagine.
This is where the addiction factor comes into play. I always felt the need to better my previous score, and of course beat those ahead of me who are on my friends list. As you progress through the game you can amass XP and collect virtual cash rewards for completing certain challenges and tracks within certain time frames. The resulting loot can be traded for a plethora of rider gear as well as rewards from Uplay. Uplay is an Ubisoft app that extends the fun factor of games by placing rewards and unlocks for a price. My first unlock was a squirrel head helmet, definitely interesting. Unlocks can be obtained by doing something as simple as finishing a course with no crashes or doing a series of jumps and performing flips on each jump without crashing. There is quite a variety of tasks. The idea is to be able use your XP, virtual money, and points to open up new areas, new gear or downloadable stuff. Perhaps it is a bit much but I can see, and feel, how addicting it can become.
You can purchase a variety of different bikes, and for the first time ever, ATV’s. I really couldn’t tell too much of a difference between motorcycles and ATV’s; perhaps the only difference being speed or agility. I thought the ATV’s felt a bit sluggish and slower than the two wheeled motorcycles, which makes perfect sense since they are bigger and heavier.
One other mode of interest is the new FMX mode (short for freestyle motorcross). The game has an almost countless amount of acrobatic stunts available which can be pulled off pretty much anywhere but are only necessary in specific stages. The FMX levels pop up throughout the game and are welcome as they change things up a bit. There is also a lot of fun in the actual training mode though as you can pull off some of these insane tricks and more, without penalty. It feels much like you are free floating in mid-air as you are able to practice your moves with impunity. I would have to admit I’m spending a fair amount of time just messing around and getting the feel of the realistic weight transfers and physics.
Trials Fusion has no online multi-player capabilities as of yet, but an online update has been promised for the near future, which should make for even more mayhem. There is a local 4-player mode, which can spell some serious frantic action with a bunch friends all vying to be the best. Heck, make a trophy and you got yourself a reason to really challenge those friends in an effort to “bring home the hardware” so to speak.
One of the things about Trials Fusion I really enjoyed was the tracks. You find a heck of a lot challenging your skill and sheer number of them that become open at an early stage is amazing. They are all different and are all brilliantly crafted with stuff happening everywhere. One level had floating platforms with fireworks going off in the background while another had wind turbines crashing down as I sped past them. While on the subject of looks, this game is slick. It runs almost flawlessly at 900p in full 60 frames per second. I did notice some texture pop in, but you would be very hard pressed to find any faults overall with the visual presentation. The game is extremely detailed with bright vivid colors on everything, even the reflections have reflections. And for those pundits out there, I am not engaging in the 1080p vs. 900p argument.
I do have to admit that I didn’t really dig on the game’s soundtrack too much; it felt as if the same song kept playing over and over in the back ground. After 30 minutes or so of game time I ended up turning the music off and listened to the sounds of the bikes and rider crashes. The sound quality is impeccable as all the bikes and ATV’s have noticeable differences in sound, and of course listening to all of it in DTS Surround really makes things that much more enjoyable.
After my first in-depth foray into the world of Trials I’ve got to admit I’m pretty impressed. This series has graduated into a full fledged game with Trials Fusion given the hard work from RedLynx. Most gamers will love the pick–up and play aspect prevalent throughout the title, but you’ll have to curb the urge to toss or bonk your controller in frustration as the difficulty ramps up. The game looks and moves better than anything I’ve seen to date in its genre making it a no brainer as a downloadable title. Trials Fusion takes the series into the realm of being a full game and not a small arcade title anymore as it has some serious chops to run with the big boys, especially with a $20 price point (digital version). Do yourself a favor take a break from TitanFall and hit up the virtual tracks with the virtual ‘bikes’ of Trials Fusion.