Review: Trials Fusion (PS4)

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Title: Trials Fusion
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (4.8 GB) / Deluxe Digital Edition (5.1 GB)
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: RedLynx
Price: $19.99 / $39.99 (Blu-ray Disc & Deluxe Digital Edition)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Trials Fusion is also available on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.
The PlayStation 4 Deluxe Digital version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Gameplay:
Some would say they’ve ‘sold out’. A switch of publisher, a loss of exclusivity and a retail release would all point to this. That term though, would be inaccurate – instead I’ll use the more polite description of ‘big budget’. This is still the Trials you know; the developer has thankfully retained all the game’s soul. I should make clear at this point, that if you experienced and disliked the previous Trials titles (HD and Evolution) on Xbox Live Arcade, nothing here will change your mind. Save your money; if you didn’t ‘get it’ before then you still won’t.

For those completely new to the series, this is an extremely polarising game. Using very simply core mechanics, Trials provides very little longevity for those who aren’t immediately bitten by the bug. Move, Gas, Break; three functions are all you have as you manoeuvre a motorbike along a single track and over obstacles. Lasting around a minute each, the objective of each event is to secure a gold, silver or bronze medal, depending on how fast you finish and how little you crash.

Once again, the main attraction stems from constantly replaying tracks – whether to gain a gold medal or beat your friends. The only major change in the core gameplay offering is the addition of challenges. Three of them are available on each track, and constitute tasks such as ‘complete with zero faults without leaning’. For those who have OCD when it comes to gaming, this is another aspect that will keep you thoroughly addicted to Trials.

Trials 1

Secondary enhancements include an almost useless tricks system; using the Left Stick to control the bike and the Right Stick the rider while in the air in order to strike a multitude of extravagant poses. Games such as the excellent quad-bike racer Pure incorporate this style of play more simply and effectively. Arguably, this was always doomed to fail – underneath its flamboyant exterior, Trials is a game solely about precision.

Elsewhere, load times are absolutely crippling, even on the downloaded version. For a game that encourages such quick, repetitive play, this is inexcusable. The move to PlayStation however, has on the whole mostly been smooth, thanks to a controller which feels perfectly suited for the game. Difficulty remains well balanced, even though some players will have experienced all of the jump types in the previous series entries. Towards the beginning, the game feels slightly more accommodating, but that soon turns out to be a false sense of security, as you quickly smack the hard-hitting reality of Trials face-first.

Overall, RedLynx have been reluctant to make wholesale changes to their formula – after all, why reinvent the spinning, flaming, 200ft high wheel? Each track has been wonderfully crafted by people that care, which shows in a gameplay experience that fans of the series will seamlessly sink into.

Trials 2

Visuals:
Trials Fusion looks very pretty indeed on the PS4. The varied environments in glorious 1080p are often a joy to look at. I was expecting everything to be futuristic, but the devs did a fantastic job in providing vastly differing backdrops to the action. As well as the beautiful scenery, there are homages to movies and even different perspectives – one which centers around a sunset is particularly aesthetically pleasing. Also, tracks are (albeit superficially) dynamic, adding another layer to the interesting design choices on show. My only issue is the frequent pop-in of layers on some textures. For instance, at the start of some tracks, you’ll first see a plain, flat brown surface prior to the detailed rocks appearing.

Audio:
“Welcome to the future…” is the tune that greets your ears when you first start the game. Okay, it’s rather unsubtle, but at least it fits. You’ll soon begin to notice though, that’s the only song in the game. Every time you hit the menus, this one piece of music will play. Very annoying indeed. Another major gripe with the audio is the JARVIS-esque ‘helper’ systems of your rider. Useless comments will trigger at certain points on the track, meaning in the infinitely repayable nature of the game, you will hear the same lines over and over and over again.

Trials 3

Online/Multiplayer:
For anyone who has played any Ubi-published game in the past few years, one word should sum up this section; ‘uPlay‘. That’s right, the publisher’s mandatory online service strikes again, meaning messages such as “cannot connect to Ubisoft servers” will greet you more often than not. Luckily, direct multiplayer is only offline, so the connection troubles don’t have too significant an effect. The couch play is surprisingly good and very well set up; achieved by a sensible scoring system and grouping six heats per match.

As alluded to earlier though, much of Trials‘ overall appeal lies in its indirectly competitive element through leaderboard chasing. During each run, moving dots represent your friends, like a simple version of ghosts in racing games. Afterwards, Trials lets you know exactly who you’ve beat and how far you are behind others. Even if you’re at the top of your friends leaderboard for a particular track, it’s still ridiculously tempting to try to shave a second or two off your time, just to rise up the global ranks a few hundred places. The real test will be how many people buy this on PS4. Back in the day on Xbox Live, the majority of my friends list would be populating the tracks. So far, that doesn’t look to be the case here.

Furthermore, the much lauded track creator makes a return. Personally, I found it fiddly and unintuitive as RedLynx decided not to include tutorials, meaning I can’t see myself ever using it. I’ll definitely be reaping the benefits of it though – the ease of finding and downloading the best community-manufactured tracks is brilliant. User Generated Content arguably provides unlimited value, although some would say that selling point stems from a slightly lazy dev team, who could provide more themselves.

Trials 4

Conclusion:
Trials Fusion is a very good game, but misses out on being truly special. More so than almost any other title, the longevity you draw from this title will depend on your gaming habits – it remains extremely shallow content-wise, but possesses unparalleled depth in its replayability. Is it worth a retail release? No; this is still the definitive downloadable title and as such, shouldn’t cost what it does.

It hasn’t evolved since Evolution and the few changes made are mostly unnecessary and unimpressive. The epitome of ‘easy to learn, hard to master’, this is the same Trials you’ve come to love (or indeed hate). Newcomers should definitely give it a try, at the very least to provide a worthwhile diversion until the next AAA release. The series may have already peaked last-gen, but that shouldn’t detract from what is a supremely fun title that, if you let it, will hook you for years to come.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

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