Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While most titles tend to expand on the concepts of a previously released title, Tate Interactive’s Urban Trial Freestyle doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the series it’s obviously inspired by.
Previously released on the PS3 and Vita, Urban Trial Freestyle follows the same concept of Redlynx’s Trials Evolution and Trials HD; get your motocross rider to the end of the level while jumping off of ramps, speeding through tunnels and performing backflips over objects. It’s a simple concept, but it’s a lot harder than it sounds, as the slightest error can send you flailing off your bike or crashing into a wall. To prevent from becoming a wall pancake, you must maintain the perfect balance between speed and precision as you race through six urban backdrops, each with four tracks to master.
Urban Trial Freestyle provides you with two modes to play–Time Trial and Stunt. Time Trial is pretty straightforward, as you just try to quickly reach the end of the track, while Stunt mode is where your may spend a bulk of your time. Within these retooled levels, you’re tasked with completing various goals within “stunt areas.” You’ll face challenges like landing precise jumps, hitting a checkpoint at a high speed or pulling off the highest and longest jump to gain points toward your overall score for the level. These “stunt areas” are great because they increase the replay value for each track. In both modes, you’ll be provided with a rating of up to five stars depending on how successful a run you’ve accomplished. Earning high marks within each track will eventually unlock challenge stages that will have you participating in less traditional activities; like racing with a limited amount of gasoline or tilting the 3DS to affect the game’s gravity.
Each level and its accompany tracks are nicely varied. Whether you are riding on top of a moving train while launching over an overpass or zipping past spinning fan blades within a factory, the game places enough obstacles in your way to keep you on your toes. Although each track lacks the visually crisp or animated surroundings of its PSN predecessor, the 3DS’ 3D screen capabilities enhances the experience and provides a great sense of depth. Accompanying your motocross adventure is a rock soundtrack the fits in well with the the game’s overall presentation. But what good are visuals and sound if the controls of your bike are lacking? Luckily, your bike is pretty responsive as you switch between accelerating and braking and you use the Circle Pad to balance yourself along the way.
The tracks become progressively difficult as you proceed, but luckily the game comes equipped with a forgiving checkpoint system. However, it won’t make up for the countless times I’ve crashed due to a few deceitfully placed course obstacles. Along the way you’ll find yourself presented with split second choices to either proceed on the path you are currently on or take a different route. Being a bit adventurous will allow you to come across some rather interesting obstacles, but in rare cases you’ll come across scenarios where the game’s physics becomes a bit erratic. On more than one occasion, my rider would land on his back as I continued to ride down the track and eventually straighten himself out without wiping out. Spotty collision detection also lends itself to some of these issues as there were a few instances of my bike’s tires getting lodged in a wall or in a platform after a jump, forcing me to restart.
Aside from racking up points through stunts or besting your track time, the game allows you to customize your character and motorcycle with various upgrades. By collecting various money bags hidden among the level, you can alter the physical appearance of your rider with different gloves and helmets or equip the bike with new tires, body and engine to slightly alter its acceleration, handling, and speed. That extra bit of muscle will make tackling some of the steeper climbs a lot easier, alleviating some of the early-game frustrations.
Though there’s no multiplayer option, Urban Trial Freestyle allows you to compete with your friends using the
direct leaderboard connection over Nintendo Network and race against Ghosts of some of these players. In its place, is a rather robust level editor where you can choose various settings and fill it with tons of objects, platforms, ramps, and more to choose from. With the ability to scale and rotate each element, you can create and test some rather challenging tracks. But with no ability to share your creation with other players, it feels like a wasted opportunity.
Urban Trial Freestyle perfectly captures the Trials HD experience, but it lacks the challenge to keep players coming back for more. It’s a solid handheld alternative that offers up plenty of fun for the price.