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Welcome to the future. Sort of.

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    Trials Fusion

    Rating: 3.5 – Good

    Welcome to the future. Sort of.

    Trials Fusion is the latest installment of the Trials franchise, which unfortunately is held back by its status as yet another cross-generational title. Released for PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and Xbox One means that the development for the game had to be held back for the title to be compatible with the seventh generation systems as well as the eighth generation systems. I’m ready for true next-gen experiences, and while Trials Fusion is still a fun game, it is not a true next-gen experience and it is actually a step back for the series.

    Trials Fusion adds a lot to the series, but this is a situation of quantity over quality. There’s different vehicle types instead of just a bunch of different bikes, which I thought was a smart idea. The ATVs handle a lot differently than the bikes, so using them is a really different experience. Unfortunately, Trials Fusion only allows certain vehicles to be usable on certain tracks, so there is no real choice here anyways.

    Newly added to the franchise are FMX events, which task players with performing tricks and racking up the highest score possible. The ability to perform tricks results in a lot of funny imagery, which has always been a strong suit for the series. Trials Fusion doesn’t hold back with the sight gags, mostly brought upon by the ridiculous ragdoll physics of the rider.

    In an attempt to create a sort of thin narrative for the game, there are now some robotic voices that chime in during events. These AI voices are meant to provide humor to the game, but they are just extremely derivative of jokes and ideas that were implemented far better in games like Portal and Ratchet & Clank. Not only that, but the added narration can be extremely annoying when retrying the same spot over and over again to the point where I had to mute my TV numerous times.

    The rest of the sound design is pretty great. The roar of engines never gets old, and while the soundtrack is somewhat limited, the few songs that they do have on there are very catchy and add a lot to the experience.

    All in all, gameplay wise, this is still Trials. The basic concept behind Trials is very simple, and there’s not much to do in the form of innovation besides creating new tracks and environmental challenges. Trials Fusion has a ton of tracks available that are more complicated and better designed than ever before. The tracks are also packed with more secrets and collectibles, which makes the game infinitely more replayable.

    Speaking of replayability, Trials Fusion accomplishes this in a number of other ways as well. Challenges have been added to almost every track in the game to give players an excuse to keep revisiting the older tracks, even if they’ve already gotten the Platinum medal on them. Earning medals to unlock new levels encourages players to master all the tracks in the game, plus there’s an XP system for both the downloadable "Track Central" mode as well as the single player mode.

    Cash is also earned by winning races and the like, and this cash can be used to buy new costumes and customize vehicles. The game could stand to have a bit more customization options, but what’s here is a step forward for the series for sure.

    There are areas where I feel the series has regressed, namely when it comes to the multiplayer. The multiplayer in Trials Evolution was a blast, but in Trials Fusion, it is just not as strong. There are only 10 multiplayer tracks available for local multiplayer, and as of right now, I don’t even think it is possible to create multiplayer tracks using the track creation tool…or another possibility is that no one on Xbox One has even bothered to create a multiplayer track yet.

    Speaking of the creation tools, they are still way too complicated and annoying to use. I have no doubt that dedicated players will create truly magnificent creations in the track creator of this game, just like they did in the previous ones, but it will require serious dedication and patience.

    A visual upgrade is present here, though some of the tracks come across as less visually interesting than a lot were in Trials Evolution. There are frame rate issues, and the game doesn’t look as good as it possibly could, which is a disappointment.

    Despite its flaws, Trials Fusion is still very addicting. I often found myself replaying one track over and over again for hours until I mastered it, and never feeling frustrated or angry at all. The game provides a lot of different goals to shoot for, so even when players get stuck on one track, they can turn their attention to completing challenges or mastering an older level. Achievement hunting is also a viable option as well.

    I am a little weary of how Trials Fusion has been released. It’s $20 digitally, but there’s a $40 retail version that comes with the game disc and then the season pass, which will consist of three more DLC expansion packs. Recent season pass gaffes like with Dead Rising 3 has made me reluctant to throw down the money for content that hasn’t been seen yet, but RedLynx and Ubisoft aren’t the types to screw people over in this regard. Only diehard Trials fans need to subscribe this early to the game though, as I have no doubt that various issues will be fixed in patches in the future, plus the Track Central content will increase significantly in just a few months.

    Trials Fusion has a lot to it, though I can’t shake the feeling that it is a step back for the series in many ways. It’s a solid choice for those still craving more of the same from Trials, and it’s hard to put down. Trials Fusion is not the strongest entry in the series, but it will still please fans.

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