Welcome to the Future
Imagine a world in which technology and nature exist in a harmonious balance, with the express purpose of creating the perfect motorbike track. Doesn’t make sense? It’s best not overthink it.
Ubisoft takes us to the year 2042, where an unnamed rider goes through a series of trials created by Samsara Industries on a motorbike, all with the accompaniment of SynDi, an “anomaly AI.” The result is a challenging game, with an emphasis on stunts, retries, and engaging graphics. None of this comes as a surprise to fans of the series, but Trials Fusion attempts to up the ante…with varying degrees of success.
By and large, the game’s standout trait is its visuals. Throughout the game, we see dozens of unique and beautifully created landscapes and environment that give each level a unique feel. Whether it’s sunset drenched ruins or cold, mechanical factories, the game is never dull to look at. There is always something going on in the background, giving a sense of excitement and urgency to each level, acting as an extra means of encouragement to speed through the course.
The gameplay is exactly what you’d expect from a trails game. Accelerating, braking, and leaning comprise the core mechanics of the rider, and from there, it’s all a matter of using physics, balance, and trial and error to make it through a track. As the tracks get more difficult, playing around with the controls becomes a necessity, and you’ll find yourself hitting redo over and over again. That’s not to say the controls are bad; they just take some getting used to. The only facet of the gameplay that is sloppy, however, is the stunt system. While it’s easy to do a flip or a basic stunt, perfecting the movements for FMX tricks is a lot of work. The controls don’t make it easy to choose a specific stunt, so there may be times when you are flying through the air in hopes of doing a trick, and you end up just flailing around aimlessly before returning to your bike.
Since you need a set number of medals before you can advance to the next part of the game, you will find yourself going back and replaying older levels several times. This can become tedious, as you will be used to playing the advanced levels so much that the easier levels then seem too easy…you may find yourself leaning and moving too much. Don’t overexert yourself on tracks that use a minimal level of controls, as that is how those levels were meant to be played. It’s best not to overthink it.
The game begins to fall apart when it attempts to add a narrative element to the game. While the series always had a slapstick sense of humor to it, the commentary delivered by the two A.I. bots throughout the game is distracting and falls short of what it ultimately sought to do. Throughout the game, we get hints that the rider is a churned out clone of the last rider, that Samsara Industries is up to something nefarious, and that the planet has become dangerous and uninhabitable in many places. These are only short sound bites dropped here and there throughout the game, but it ultimately didn’t work. You can tell the game was trying to create a sense of suspicion similar to that of Portal. Unfortunately, the game didn’t commit to this narrative, and we are left with a few comments that don’t pan out to anything and a sense of humor that falls a bit short. Of course, as this is an arcade-style moto-platformer, strong narratives are not to be expected at all. It’s best not to overthink it.
The main draw of the game, of course, is not the single player career at all. Now that online multiplayer has been added, the game takes on a new life. With an ability to create your own tracks and customize your bike and rider, the game works better when played against friends, rather than alone. The course creator takes some getting used to, as it isn’t quite as intuitive as one would hope. Customizing your rider works exactly as you’d expect as well, and there are enough futuristic and humorous outfits to satisfy players.
At the end of the day, it is a fun game that you can pick up here or there without feeling like you’re committing to too much. Familiar controls and beautiful graphics make the game an enjoyable. Just remember: it’s best not to overthink it.