“Trials Fusion” ($20; Rated E10) is everything you could hope for from a “Trials” game and more. Unfortunately, it’s in the “more” that “Fusion” gets bogged down.
Like its predecessors, “Trials Fusion” puts its players on a motorcycle, with access to an ever-increasing number of legitimately insane tricks. Loop-the-loops, skyscraper jumps and flips are employed on nearly every course, with the more difficult ones demanding the player chain those things together or perform variations that will test the finger dexterity of even the most seasoned gamers. At the end of each track, the rider and the bike are thrown into deathtraps that are both horrifying and cartoonish (and bloodless, so as to maintain the game’s kid-friendly rating).
It’s exactly what one would expect given that the last game in the series, “Trials Evolution,” did all of these things very, very well a mere two years ago.
The joy of that game was its simplicity. Accelerate, brake, lean forward and lean backward are the only things the rider was expected to do. The variety was in the tracks, which showcased just how devilishly inventive the developers – not to mention enterprising creators – can be.
“Fusion” adds something like a story, with two AI “characters” offering narration on many of the tracks. While it’s a neat idea in theory, the number of retries that a typical “Trials” track requires means that you’ll hear bits and pieces of that story, over and over and over again. What’s interesting the first time becomes utterly aggravating by the 500th, and it won’t be long before you flip a switch in the Settings menu to turn off “SynDI” and “George.”
“Fusion” also adds a freestyle motorcross trick system through the use of the right analog stick. This is a cool idea, and adding tracks that are tailored to the tricks was smart. Still, the controls to pull off those tricks – particularly if you’re trying to manage a specific one – can be wildly inconsistent. Some are easy to pull off, while others feel as though they occur randomly – often as you’re trying to do a different trick.
Practicing within the FMX system will yield good score results, but consistency is very, very difficult to come by, leading to much needless frustration in a mode that seems designed for pure fun.
All in all, a hit
That said, it’s clear that old-school “Trials” is still the heart of the game, and there is plenty of that to do even if you ignore the FMX component. Once you “complete” the game, it opens up a handful of Master courses as well as the option to try for “platinum” medals on the tracks you beat. There are even three challenges associated with every track, things like extended wheelies and flips that make you appreciate those tracks in strange and new ways.
Really, the game is at its best when you ignore what’s new and admire the slight variations on known “Trials” themes. From a value standpoint, there aren’t many games that give you this much to do for 20 bucks. From a pure fun standpoint, there are a few misses along the way, but in all, “Trials Fusion” is one big hit.
“Trials Fusion” is now available on Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Xbox 360 platforms.
New this week: “Wolfenstein” returns with “Wolfenstein: The New Order” (XOne, PS4, X360, PS3, PC), because as long as there are video games, there will be Nazis to shoot at. “Transistor” (PS4, PC) also arrives this week, as we see how Supergiant Games could possibly follow up 2011’s critically celebrated “Bastion.”