Developer: Tate Multimedia (Main game), Strangelands Ltd. (3DS Port)
Publisher: Tate Multimedia
Release Date: February 19th, 2013 (Playstations), June 27th, 2013 (3DS), September 18th, 2013 (PC)
Available on: Nintendo 3DS, PC, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the Playstation Vita. There may be differences between versions.
On the Xbox 360 Trials HD has become a huge hit. The simple gameplay yet challenging difficulty made it enjoyable for many people. Urban Trial Freestyle attempts to ape the formula and give the Playstation crowd a similar experience. It’s just too bad that Urban Trial Freestyle doesn’t quite hit the same highs that Trials HD hits.
Urban Trial Freestyle is a platformer where you have to drive a motorcycle along a 2D plane to reach a goal. A simple enough task, but one that requires a great deal of precision. It’s easy to fall off your motorcycle and you have to continuously balance, speed up, and slow down to keep yourself on the bike. While doing this you have to make various jumps and avoid obstacles in a post-apotolyptic urban environment. Don’t get fooled by the introduction: there is no combat in this game, nor is there any kind of story to be had. It’s just simply getting through the various platforming challenges. The game is broken into two modes which has you either trying to finish the level as fast as possible, or get points by completing challenges. You’ll get rewarded with stars which you then use to unlock more levels.
A lot of the challenges are just flat out not fun though. It feels at times that you have no way to know if parts of the environment are going to fall down or blow up or do some other crazy action until you’ve used trial and error to figure it out. Some of the challenges are just flat out annoying, requiring you to drive your bike at angles that require some luck to get up. I actually found it easier to trip traps and then just back up and wait a moment for the trap to play out before advancing. You can upgrade your bike using cash you find on the levels, but I never really noticed the upgrades making any kind of noticeable changes to the game. I still felt like I could barely get over the same hills I barely could get over before, and I still fell over just as easily. At least falling over isn’t super frustrating, as you can respawn right away just by tapping triangle.
What is frustrating is that the game locks off levels until you can get more stars to get them. It feels like artificial padding, as if you aren’t five-starring every level then you’re going to replaying the levels until you do. I didn’t have much fun trying to repeat the challenges and races and figure out what I was doing wrong. Another problem comes with those money bags I mentioned earlier. The only way to get money in this game is to collect it on the actual tracks themselves. This means stopping whatever you’re doing and going out of your way to get the money. If you’re going for stars you’re not going for money, and vice versa. It doesn’t make much sense and it means you’re going to be playing the levels even more just to get the things you need.
About half way through Urban Trial Freestyle I realized that this game is mostly a poor man’s Trials HD. There’s not much in the way of redeeming features and I wouldn’t recommend this game over the Trails series in any situation. If the choice is available then either go for Trial or don’t bother with this.