Urban Trial Freestyle Review
If you've ever played a game based around motorcycle trials, then you know it's all about finesse and less about speed. Participants have their skills tested on obstacle courses and are scored on their performance. In Urban Trial Freestyle for the 3DS, you're tested on your timing, skill and ability to read the flow of an obstacle course. But does this game have what it takes to past our test?
I'll start out by saying that I'm a bit of closet fan when it comes to trials games. There's just something about trying to solve the physics puzzles designed as obstacle courses that's just really gratifying and rewarding. Also, it's hilarious when your character wipes out and suffers all kinds of brutal damage, leaving their body a contorted mess of limbs.
Urban Trial Freestyle is a sort of cut-and-dry version of a trials game that boils the experience down to the basics, which is really what makes this so fun to play. For all intents and purposes, it's just you, your bike and the courses ahead. You'll be tasked with pulling stunts, getting faster times, and figuring out the best way to navigate obstacles. With a lot of trial and error, you'll be able to breeze through courses and score a perfect five-star rating. But in order to do that, you'll first have to get on the bike.
The controls in Urban Trial Freestyle are simple, and help give you as much as control as you need on the bike. You'll balance yourself either backwards or forwards with the Circle Pad, accelerate with the A button, brake with the B button and reverse with the Y button. Hitting the X button will reset your position to the last checkpoint you reached, which are scattered around the courses.
All of the buttons are responsive and really give you a good feel for your machine. For some of us who value our ribcages and femurs being intact, this might be the closest we get to some high-flying adventures on a motorcycle, so it's good that the virtual experience features tight controls. Most of your runs will be spent trying to remain balanced and revved up enough so that you can make jumps and conquer other obstacles, so prepare to be engaged at all times.
There are a total of five districts in the city, which is basically your playground, with four courses each. You'll have to earn high marks for each district in order to advance to the next. This can be done by completing Stunt Mode and conquering some of the various stunts littered throughout courses, such as long jumps, precise aim, flip rotations and high jumps.
You can also advance to the next district by trying to get fastest clear times in the Time Attack mode. You won't have to memorize where stunts are, but you'll have to memorize the terrain in order to get the speediest clear times. Would it be better for you to skip a jump and travel faster down a ramp? Or maybe you can drop off an edge and speed along the ground quicker, rather than taking a loop? These are the kinds of things you'll have to worry about when playing through courses in Time Attack mode.
The levels are all wonderfully designed and have the feel of a city, complete with moving parts. One particular favorite level of mine takes place on a moving train. Thank goodness for video games that allow me to ride a two-wheeled instrument of death on a moving train without any risk of actual bodily harm. Each district has a distinct feel and you'll want to keep moving on just to see what kind of sights you'll see in other courses.
While the gameplay is fantastic and the controls are tight, Urban Trial Freestyle is not without its fair share of problems. The main rub is that you can complete the game in a day, with little to no replay value other than beating your old scores. The character bike customizations leave a lot to be desired as well, since after clearing a few districts, you'll have enough in-game money to buy and trick out a really sweet bike. As for your rider, the customizable parts are little uninspired and I found that the money was better spent on upgrading a bike.
They did include a level editor, so players can build their own tracks if they choose. It's a relatively easy affair that's controlled with the touchscreen and lets you populate a set level with whatever obstacles you can dream up. Want a course made completely out of ramps and loops? Go crazy. It's easy enough to use and can take up a good chunk of your time, so fans of player-created content can keep themselves occupied for a while. Hopefully, they'll include an option to share and download tracks in the future, which could definitely help with Urban Trial Freestyle's longevity.
This was a trials game that really surprised me and kept me glued to my 3DS. The fact that I can take an addictive trials game on-the-go is fantastic and the level editor should hold my attention for a little longer. But due to the fact that you can "beat" the game within a day, some people might be turned off from buying it. Still, at the introductory price of $5.59, it's tough not to recommend, especially if you're a fan of the genre.
This review is based on a digital copy of Urban Trial Freestyle for the Nintendo 3DS provided to us by the publisher.