12 cert, Ubisoft, Xbox One (also PS4, Xbox 360, PC)

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES - JOE GRIF­FIN

Like an ex­pen­sive dirt­bike, Tri­als games are more re­fined than they first seem. On the sur­face, they look like (and are) 2D rac­ing games with ba­sic con­trols. You can’t turn, but you can con­trol your speed and lean the biker’s body weight for­ward or back.

These con­trols seem sim­ple, but have lots of nuance. As ev­ery biker knows, how you lean can de­ter­mine your ve­loc­ity, bal­ance and safety. So the tini­est tilt could have you hurtling to your doom, while tweak­ing your po­si­tion ever so slightly could lead to a tri­umphant fi­nale.

Tri­als Fu­sion has a fu­tur­is­tic sheen, but still main­tains the se­ries’ slap­stick sense of hu­mour. This time the cour­ses are more bizarre and so­phis­ti­cated, in­clud­ing cat­a­pults, trap­doors and floors that move in and out of the biker’s path. The rider’s shrieks of ter­ror and brays of joy con­trast with the pre­cise, calm, in­struc­tors’ voices.

Should you want to, you can com­pare your per­for­mance with those of on­line strangers. I didn’t. But to be fair, “Track Cen­tral” is a treat: Gamers can craft and share their own tracks, so there are lit­er­ally thou­sands of ways you can test the laws of physics and the lim­its of your bike.

While it’s still a rel­a­tively low-fi fran­chise, Tri­als Fu­sion is the best look­ing in the se­ries so far. The shiny cityscapes, the harsh, var­ied weather con­di­tions and the ver­tigo-in­duc­ing an­i­ma­tion are at­trac­tive and colourful.

Tri­als Fu­sion is a fa­mil­iar re­tread­ing of its ad­dic­tive for­mula, with some wel­come tweaks. The set­ting has given the fran­chise a shot in the arm; though I don’t share the de­vel­op­ers’ opin­ion that dub­step is the mu­sic of the fu­ture.

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