Welcome to the future… Welcome to the future… that infernal song has been the bain of my existence these past few days since installing Trials Fusion. No matter what I do, or where I go, I can’t help but hum that damn tune! Fortunately, the gameplay in the new bike-riding title from Ubisoft and RedLynx is just as frustratingly addictive.
Strap on your boots, pull on your leathers and don’t forget to don your shiny crash helmet; believe me you’re going to need it. The devilishly difficult series makes its return with an all-new selection of futuristic tracks and skill games, designed to test your nerves and take you to the brink of frustration.
The sequel to Trials Evolution sees players ride a bike – or quad – across a series of increasingly difficult courses, as quickly and with as few crashes as possible. To say it’s no easy task is an understatement! Medals are awarded depending on your performance, which accumulate to unlock additional stages.
As usual, the gameplay is heavily physics based, making it imperative that you consider how you sit upon your bike, lean into jumps and how much you pump the throttle along the course.
Besides just steering your way to the finish lines, some levels require you to pull off a series of tricks and stunts to accrue as high a score as possible. The FMX tricks system requires some very deliberate movement of the right thumbstick to shift your weight across the bike, and propel yourself into some death-defying positions.
They all have different levels of difficulty, from the Superman stance to the Coffin move, and require you to land safely at the end. Pull it off and the scores will rack up, fail and you’ll get a mouthful of dust and be forced to restart from the last checkpoint.
Various challenges are available on each of the levels, which give you a nice XP boost if you can master them. Keep an eye out for the many Easter Eggs that pepper the game too. Stopping on a tennis court mid-race, for example, breaks into a mini game where you take on a penguin for a quick game. I won, by the way, although the penguin put up a mean fight!
A series of tutorials ease you into the action and before long you’ll feel quite at ease soaring through the air. In fact, you’ll romp through the first half of the campaign, collecting loads of gold medals and XP along the way, and wonder what all the fuss was about. This game isn’t so tough, is it?
Well, you’re wrong. Get the Easy and Medium stages out the way and you’ll be faced with the agonisingly tricky Hard routes, requiring countless bunny hops and careful control of the accelerator. Where once you were speeding through a level with no faults in less than a minute, things will change. One level took me over seven minutes (!) and I racked up over 60 restarts because I couldn’t leap a seemingly innocuous ramp and land safely the other side.
When not trying to resist throwing the controller at the TV screen in disgust, you may want to take a moment and absorb the scenery as it whizzes by. Forgot the gripes about the lower resolution on the Xbox One compared with the PS4 – it still looks the business… and you’ll probably be going too fast most of the time to notice anyway.
Aesthetically, everything is lovely looking – with daytime effects, water, sunlight and depth of field combining to disguise the fact that this is a 2D side-scrolling racer. One minor gripe is the bike selection screen, which seems to take an age to bring up the images each time you scroll. Sound-wise, the announcers and that soundtrack (!) do get a little tiresome as well.
Collect XP and cash and you’ll unlock the six vehicles – including a very cool quad bike – each with different characteristics and subtle driving style. Some boast a little more grunt than others, helping you accelerate over those ramps, while others are more suited to pulling off some of the insane tricks. Costumes can also be bought to change the appearance of your rider if you so desire.
Once you’re done with the campaign mode, there’s local multiplayer and the infinite possibilities of the comprehensive track editor. It’s complex sure, but get to grips with the tools and controls and you can create some truly stunning levels and post them online. In fact, during my time playing Trials for this review, the number of uploaded user-made content had already leapt into the thousands.
The community aspect of the game is awesome, from the ability to share these creations to the fact you can vote for your favourites and use the menu to filter and search based on difficulty. Long after the campaign is complete – if you can master those bunny hops – the addition of the editor will ensure you keep playing. Recommended! Welcome to the future…
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.