New games usually aggravate players for the wrong reasons. Maybe they have poor design all around. Perhaps it’s because they’re short and/or they flat-out suck. Difficulty’s rarely a part of the equation either way and that’s where franchises like Trials step in.
The franchise’s journey from a humorous flash game, to indie darling and now big budget title gives it a “BROOKLYN, WE DID IT” charm. Plus its “just one more try” edge hasn’t wavered and, 2 million attempts later, heads still can’t put the rock down. So Trials Fusion‘s (PC, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One) supposed to raise the bar once again, right? Well that’s where things get complicated.
The trouble in reviewing and recommending Trials lies in player’s relation to the games and their ethos. It’s almost like making one of those infographics perfect for Facebook consumption on the fly.
Are you new to Trials? Do you have a lot of patience and crave games requiring pinpoint accuracy? Do explosions causing violent ragdoll physics make you die laughing? The review’s pretty much over if those three check out. Go play Trials now and you’ll have a blast. Conversely, if you’re a vet and realize Trials has some clear problems, then we have to have a talk.
Make no mistake. Trials Fusion is a fun game at its core. Players can look forward to sessions filled with belly laughs, controller throwing choke points just like past iterations. Its campaign is shorter, better streamlined and not as hard as previous games. Granted, it’s still difficult, but now players won’t get stuck on tournaments and eventually lose interest.
This layout may bother diehard fans but it’s not necessarily a bad change. Single player’s revamped campaign makes way for humorous challenges with more than a few testing your mind rather than remind you how much you suck at the game.
Fishing around over vague clues grants XP towards vanity items while events add greenbacks to buy said unlocks. So screwing around helps you look fly down the line. At the same time skating by on bronze medals won’t cut it for long. This is how Fusion keeps from going all-the-way casual even though, weirdly enough, platinum models only appear after the main game’s done. Ardent fans can’t say Trials Fusion forgot its foundation. At the same time it doesn’t really reinforce itself in the way of fresh content.
The TKO-Panda’s a new quad which has a great feel compared to the dirt bikes. Except it only has one board and never leaves the garage after that. So, once its stages are done, you have to count on the game’s community to fill in the gaps with custom levels. It’s bogus to count on the people who bought the game to support the TKO but that’s Fusion‘s current reality.
Freestyle challenges give a nice break from the checkpoint races. Such is especially true when later stages feel like battles of attrition. Trick levels serve their purpose in being more fun that frustrating. They, much like the TKO Panda, shine in community-made maps. There’s about one trick level per board, though. Thus, for now, its mileage is tied to logging online and grabbing other user’s creations.
Multiplayer support also stumbles in Trials‘ present state. Four players can play locally on all platforms. However online multiplayer’s absent. Developer Redlynx says it wasn’t a main attraction to predecessor Trials Evolution and it may feature a more robust replacement. Yet gamers are left to wait for an alternative and hope it doesn’t suck.
Evolution‘s online multiplayer may not have been a major draw by Redlynx’s expectations but it yielded great moments. Seeing your friends from miles away climb hills, ragdoll off their bikes and struggle towards the finish-line created good natured fun. Now it’s gone and its timing couldn’t be worse with Fusion‘s novel freestyle events.
These issues only coalesce since Trials Fusion retails at $20 standard and $60 with a season pass for future DLC. Quality expansions in past games ought to quell doubts on Fusion’s incoming add-ons. Trials Evolution came out at $15, however, and offered more than Fusion does now. Let’s not forget Evolution made a much bigger leap from its forebear than Fusion does by adding a custom map browser, new minigames, online multiplayer and other major improvements.
The PC version also isn’t built to run at anything other than 60 frames per second. So, when the game randomly drops to 30 fps, it runs at half speed. The slowdown kills the game’s pace and becomes aggravating as there’s no definite, root cause. Fast-forwarding through a leaderboard replay eventually rights the engine. That doesn’t stop it from being a bad oversight which hasn’t been fixed at the time of this review.
Trials Fusion is the kind of sequel that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel and it shouldn’t. So it goes on to build on the winning formula. Unfortunately it doesn’t add enough right now to keep it from feeling half-baked. Newcomers would be better served to wait for Fusion to mature and/or cop Evolution when it’s on sale. Fusion’s an enjoyable game but its aforementioned stumbles get in the way of fulfilling its potential.