Few franchises garner a huge following with such a simple premise, but the Trials games manage to give gamers not only a sense of huge accomplishment that completing a difficult course with no bails provides, but also the tools to create your own tracks or even game types. Trials Evolution made it so that you could create anything you wanted. Trials Fusion brings the experience to the now current-generation, throwing in some Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater inspired tricks to the mix.
Certainly on current-gen platforms the game looks and feels great with a consistently smooth framerate. Its locations are varied, colourful, and really show off the futuristic vibe associated with it. Biker models still have a tendency to glitch out when off the bike, but these usually lead to hilarious moments that you can now easily capture and share.
There are AI voices to provide humour and context, but after a while the temptation to turn them off will probably overcome you. If there is one oversight there is some texture pop-in issues whenever you restart a track from part-way through the course. Not game breaking, but shows a slight lack of polish in one area that isn’t amusing.
Handling feels as responsive as you’d hope from a Trials game and RedLynx have put in tutorial levels to get the newer players up to speed with traversing larger gaps and landing your bike without flipping out of control. They don’t show all of their hand as some of the later courses are downright relentless with their difficulty, even putting experts to the test. The online leaderboards that show your friends times is a huge drive to the impeding addiction, that ‘just one more try’ mentality that dominates the previous games. It’s still there, sinking its motor oil soaked teeth into you and yet you can’t resist.
For a companion app, Trials Frontier is one of the more accomplished as it is in itself a fully fledged mobile game. The emphasis here is on story in a mid-western setting, more than the console version, with objective based quests guiding you through the smaller but numerous tracks. It’s pretty hefty in size and links up with Trials Fusion for specific unlocks. Control is really nice on tablets, with the visuals complementing the platform well.
Instead of unlocking bikes the standard way, you can upgrade existing ones with coins and parts or make new ones by gathering blueprints. One gripe is that despite the fact that gems are really easy to come by, you will find yourself doing the same courses over and over to have the chance to spin the wheel for a certain item you need to complete the current quest.
Other than that, the standard free-to-play tropes are there, which are fair though coupled with the randomised items is a little bit of a timewaster. The shop is there if you want to invest real money, but it is entirely possible to avoid it. Trials Frontier isn’t a bad little download, but the random element does get tedious.
Tricky, Tricky, Tricky!
Sections are divided into normal tracks, FMX courses, and skill challenges. It’s in the FMX courses where you find the double-edged sword that is the tricks. Depending on where you are positioned and which direction you push the right analogue stick, your rider will perform a particular trick. It’s nice to vary the focus from finishing courses in record time with something more akin to SSX, but it lacks the same addictiveness that perfecting the normal runs does because of its imprecise nature.
Given just how successful the Create mode has been in the past, it’s no surprise that Trials Fusion comes equipped with a robust track editor that is just as versatile as ever. The game actively instructs you to look at YouTube videos for tutorials, but you’re free to mess around with it as much as you like, altering locales, day/night cycles, whatever takes your fancy. There aren’t a great number of standout examples just yet online, but this is something the community will probably provide in spades as the game ages.
As with most Ubisoft published games, you’re probably expecting uPlay support, but this game uses that platform to tie in progress with the companion app Trials Frontier by granting you unlocks should you complete certain courses on Gold rank in both games. It’s a neat idea and shows promise for the future. Other offerings in the game include Multiplayer (Local and Online), which is as good as it ever was, with its own set of Supercross courses or ones you’ve downloaded. Curiously there is a mysterious garbled option which apparently isn’t ready yet. It’s a growing trend for games to release ‘feature incomplete’ and it’s a tad annoying. Hopefully it’s something free, rather than an online store, but all signs indicate the latter.
Trials Fusion is as refined as a sequel needs to be and while one or two new features don’t quite work as well as they should, there are glimmers of new ideas that feel next gen in scope. It’s a wonderful looking game that plays well and despite having that sole technical issue it isn’t a disaster by any means. Above all, it’s still got that knack for creating an addiction so bad that you’ll probably be admitted into rehab. Should you indulge in Trials Fusion, there will at least be sufficient company in your group meetings, all wearing motorbike helmets and nursing battle scars.