fri 25/09/2020

Trials Fusion | reviews, news & interviews

Trials Fusion

Trials Fusion

Dexterity-testing motorbiking series runs out of gas

'Trials Fusion': Dexterous physics puzzles meet dull as ditchwater level design

The core of a great videogame can sometimes be very simple indeed. The Trials series is based around the idea of leaning back and forward while accelerating and braking on a motorbike. Such simple controls, in this series, are turned into the ability to jump, push, roll and otherwise manoeuvre your lump of engined metal over a series of seemingly impossible obstacles – very much like "trials" riders do in real life.

The core of a great videogame can sometimes be very simple indeed. The Trials series is based around the idea of leaning back and forward while accelerating and braking on a motorbike. Such simple controls, in this series, are turned into the ability to jump, push, roll and otherwise manoeuvre your lump of engined metal over a series of seemingly impossible obstacles – very much like "trials" riders do in real life.

The series hit its stride with Trials HD for the Xbox 360 in 2009, and since then has retained that sense of knife-edge balance and dexterity needed to get up, over and under the obstacles in each iteration of the game. Trials Fusion keeps that core gameplay – the subtle flicks required to loft a front wheel without tipping back, then the leap forward to get up and onto a near vertical slope, then the easing of throttle and lean forwards to smoothly drive the rear wheel upwards.

This is a fine demonstration of pure dexterity-testing, strategic-thinking ludological pleasure. And once it takes hold, it's difficult to let go – the temptation to beat "just one more track", or beat your friends' times on that tricky track, or conquer another challenge (such as completing an entire track with the pedal to the metal), is hard to resist.

Trials Fusion - motorbike trials ridingFortunately, or worryingly, you can build, edit and share your own tracks online, as well as riding others' efforts – so once you've completed the initial game's levels, there are thousands more, ever more fiendish and difficult, waiting to be cracked.

Hopefully, online (and in a multi-player mode yet to be delivered at time of review), is where the true Trials Fusion will show out. Because the big problem with the game as it stands is a complete lack of imagination in the tracks that come built into the game.

Fusion includes a superfluous futuristic setting – an attempt to keep the series "fresh", as there's little else here that represents a genuine move forward from previous games. The result of the sci-fi stylings is largely bland pipes and awfully dull factory levels. When the game ditches those for snowbound and desert settings it feels much more at home.

Trials Fusion - motorbike trials ridingA second addition, and even less welcome, is the inclusion of rider stunts or tricks – ride off the lip of a big jump and you can use the right analogue stick to contort your rider around the bike while it spins before hopefully centring both rider and bike before you land. The controls feel over-woolly, particularly in comparison to the beautifully crisp and direct controls of the bike and rider on the ground that have pretty much made the series the success it is. And the tricks feel fairly superfluous to the core experience.

In all, Fusion retains the core that makes the Trials series challenging fun to ride, but in the pursuit of new thrills bolts on several stupid ideas.

A fine demonstration of pure dexterity-testing, strategic-thinking ludological pleasure

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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