WHEN RedLynx released Trials HD on the Xbox Live Arcade in 2009, its overwhelming success proved that gamers accustomed to a diet of triple-A releases had a voracious appetite for a fiendish yet rewarding celebration of motocross skills.
Trials Fusion - Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Xbox 360 / PC
Score: 8.5 / 10
A title which began life as a browser game at the turn of the millennium became the toast of millions, each of whom struggled manfully to best their times and win those elusive gold medals.
The acclaim which greeted Trials could easily have ushered in a slew of sequels, but the Finnish developers - now owned by Ubisoft - deserve credit for their quality control. Fusion represents only the third console iteration of the franchise, and while some have had misgivings about the science fiction backdrop, it is mere window dressing for yet another exhibition of superb bike physics and a perfectly pitched difficulty level.
At heart, the classic Trials formula is unchanged. With a rudimentary control system allowing the player to accelerate, brake and lean, the gameplay takes place on familiar undulating two dimensional planes, the sections of track punctuated by numerous ramps, rails, cliff edges, obstacles and gaping chasms which punish all but the most precise of riders.
The spine of Fusion is the career mode; largely unchanged from HD and Trials Evolution, each world consists of straightforward time trials, skill games and stunt tracks. A significant graphical overhaul means there is plenty to catch the eye on the periphery - with explosions a regular occurrence - but woe betide the player who is distracted from the task at hand.
The opening tracks may lull you into a false sense of security, but rest assured, as the game progresses, you will crash painfully and frequently.
Most of the game takes small bunny hops forward on its previous incarnations, and this does not always work. The addition of the quad bike vehicle, for instance, sees RedLynx attempt to graduate the series from its two wheeled roots.
The experience, though, is not as exhilarating or fraught, and it is easy to tear through the majority of the ATV courses thanks the machine’s generously proportioned weight. Similarly, a new tricks system is momentarily exciting, but too inexact to grip your attention for long.
The biggest leap forward comes with the track editor. A mere matter of days after the game’s launch, the community has produced a wealth of involving and rigorous routes for riders to navigate. The interface might take some getting used to, but persevere and thousands of different objects are available to deploy at will, making for a practically limitless number of permutations.