Review: Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max Edition
Back in August 2009, a small independent developer called RedLynx, is propelled to the front of the scene thanks to the success of Trials HD on Xbox Live Arcade. Three years later, still hand in hand with Microsoft, the Finnish studio masterfully transformed the first opus with Trials Evolution, refining the gameplay while providing a dense content in a completely open environment. Ubisoft, lured by the smell, snatched up the studio and therefore stirs fears of an abrupt change in philosophy. In the end, the team dedicated to the development of Trials in five years rose from 13 to 210 people. So did Trials Fusion and the new Awesome Max Level has retained the rebellious spirit of the series, or is it gentrified?
The first of the series released on a Sony console (Microsoft exclusive back then), Trials Fusion will probably attract neophytes so it is appropriate to briefly explain its goal: overcoming obstacles while riding a through a very difficult and precised handle of accelerator, brakes, driver posture and adapting his driving to the physical game engine Forget getaways on two wheels in the green lands of open environments. despite its 3D graphics, Trials is played in two dimensions on a single plane.
The first point that marks a new chapter for fans of the license is this new futuristic atmosphere. Sort of hybrid of dirt and technology, Trials Fusion abandons the dirty atmosphere of previous episodes. Farewell the smell of hot oil and gasoline for a cold and new universe, recalling at first glance the world of Mirror’s Edge or Portal.
The second surprise is more noise effects, but what’s with this elevator music? Played to your heart, the main theme of the game titled Welcome to the future unfortunately gives no faith in the future of humanity, and can start getting your mind pissed of this loop. This medley of synthesizers and electro tunes may stick more to the techie world of this episode, but we still shed a tear, remembering the atmosphere of Trials Evolution.
Graphically speaking, Trials Fusion has a significant plastic feel to it. Not really a AAA game, the title has still taken advantage of the new generation capacity by offering a light and welcomed visual upgrade. Served by the camera’s zoom effects accentuating well the dynamism of the action, the result is clean and fluid with only small burr textures still loading a bit late when pounding the back button at the starting point. The buildup for its part sticks pretty well to the smooth appearance of the title with designs drawn with a futuristic brush.
The level design is once again the strong point of the title. Trials Evolution had it before, so the surprise effect is obviously somewhat faded but the inventiveness of RedLynx are measured quite massively. It connects the loops, descents, jumps on top of subways in motion, paced throughout sixty tracks present in the base game (more if you add the DLCs all included in this Max Level Edition, but we’ll get to this later on). The developers have in fact increased the number of interactions with the environment: stopping on a tennis court initiates an unlikely minigame for example. The level editor is also the main asset to expand the game and help players seeking a little more originality. Each track created by a user pays the biker who survived it with a medal as it is in the main mode. You are then offered to evaluate the creation you tested so to help pick the best community creations.
Beyond the objective time and normal trials, Trials Fusion also introduced on each level three secondary objectives to complete. between the traditional medals, the skill challenges, exploration or specific constraints (like not braking once in a track) add a significant replayability factor, especially since the challenges often prove to be already difficult. Unlocking each of them will release a handful of experience points to be allocated to increase your level, more anecdotal than anything else, although we appreciate that the practice on tracks created by players is also taken into account.
When it comes to handling, the gameplay is almost identical to its predecessor, which is excellent. If the first levels are happening with insolent ease and handle, the number of challenges increases exponentially as the player progresses. Trials Fusion does not deny its heritage of being a skilled game that encourages obsessive trial and failure method. So I do suggest everyone once again to go back to a learning curve to become familiar with the controls properly before attacking the devious obstacles from the sadistic imagination of these developers. The hardcore riders which have tasted the abused difficulty Origin of Pain and Riders of Doom DLC will feel the rest of the tracks like they’re a walk in the park.
Presented as a major gameplay introduction, the FMX is trying to bring some freshness to existing base game. Specifically, it is now possible to perform freestyle figures between each jump. Everything is managed using the right thumbstick of the controller. Not easy to get used to at first, these tricks will not bring much gameplay factor on most classic tracks on which points are not counted, and will serve as an aesthetic factor, to occupy the driver during a long jump . However inevitable for progression, trials FMX still forces the player to tame the system under the pain of being deprived of essential medals to reach the last levels. In terms of changes, also note that games of skill are now taking part in the quarry instead of staying cloistered in a particular section as was previously the case. With a range of tracks dedicated to this practice, the quad is also one of the novelties. Its size and heavy physical weight make a relatively simple machine to tame.
In a new galloping madness, RedLynx launched the Awesome Level Max DLC (hence the name of this compiled release), which swapped wheels for hooves and the driver for an armed cat. Nothing logical in here, just get your controller and whisk away like the wind, as rough trials are coming ahead!
In a new galloping madness, RedLynx launched the Awesome Level Max DLC
For his stunt, Ubisoft puts you in the skin of a cat riding unicorn (which reminds me of Microsoft’s recent marketing Ninjacat mascot), a completely offbeat choice which remains purely commercial, as the use of the animal is limited – only 8 of the 30 new levels of the DLC – but also tedious. Specifically, the feeling of piloting this “unit” like a motorcycle but no wheels and a real person on the machine makes the management of the complicated balance system a pain. However, the levels concerned are excellent design- and it will plunge players to to get all the gold medals.
What about the remaining 22 levels? It is a mixture between the developer and community-picked tracks. We thus find a more complete gameplay with a difficulty more structured and especially demanding, so those levels will keep you busy. And if we could fear an embarrassing contrast between the two types of levels, it is not the case, as I felt like the work of the community is on par with those of the dev team, without distorting the spirit of the series. The end result exceeds the expectations, although the original Trials Fusion represents the biggest boost of enhancements. And thanks to Ubisoft, the game is available on all platforms with the exception of those bearing the Nintendo logo.
Frankly, Awesome Level Max is far from being an indispensable DLC. However, the avid fan and eager medals will be hard to miss, because for ten euros, the extension offers 30 levels to the successful level design.. The increasing difficulty will delight the madmen unable to let go of the controller before they get to the gold medals. And if you do not have tried this beast of a concept, then go on and grab this Awesome Level Max Edition that includes the original game, and all released DLC to date.
Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max Edition was reviewed using an Xbox One downloadable code of the game provided by Ubisoft. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and PC on both retail and online stores releases. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• True to Trials' roots with 180 tracks in total
• The 22 new levels made by developers / fans are a treat
• Successful level design
• All DLC in one neatly packaged game
• The Unicorn and cat are under-exploited
• Unicorn is difficult to handle