Urban Trial Freestyle
Genre: Crotchrocket Competition
Developer: Tate Interactive
Publisher: Tate Multimedia
Release Date: 02/19/2013
I have to admit that I went into Urban Trial Freestyle with preconceptions about what the game was. I’m a big fan of Trials for the Xbox, watching the pre-release videos made me assume that was the kind of game Urban Trial Freestyle was. They’re both 2D motorcycle games with a similar graphical style, and they even put the word Trial into the title of this game, so you might be able to see why I might get ideas in my head about what type of game this might be.
If you’re a Playstation owner looking for a Trials type game, this isn’t it.
That doesn’t mean it is a bad game though, just be aware that there are many significant differences between the two. If anything the game seems to draw from both Trials and Joe Danger, however it does its own thing as well.
Urban Trial Freestyle is a 2D motorcycle game, as I said. You drive from right to left, encountering obstacles as you progress through a level and are expected at times to lean forward or backwards in order to keep your ride balanced. One way the game does things a little differently is that each track has separate ways of playing through it, a Race version and a Trick version.
In the Race tracks you are attempting to speed through the track as fast as possible. If you are connected online you will see the ghost of the person who is on top of the leaderboard (you can set this to your friends or however you like if you prefer). As you race there will be specific level obstacles to avoid, however in this way the game is different from both Joe Danger and Trials. Both of those games are essentially platform games, except you’re riding a motorcycle. Urban Trial Freestyle is much more straightforward with the courses in the game and there is very little trial and error in making your way through the track. There were very few times I needed to restart from a checkpoint, and when I did it was less user error and more of an issue with level design. I’ll get to that in a moment though, let’s go over the other mode.
The Trick mode reminds me of the track objectives from Joe Danger. In this mode there are areas of the track with challenges you have to try and do well on, like Furthest Jump, Highest Jump, Most Rotations, Speed Challenge, etc. I enjoyed this part of the game a lot, the racing parts are fairly simple, while these objectives offer more of a challenge. At the end of one of these kind of tracks the game gives you a score based on how well you did and how much time remained. The leaderboards for these tracks show who has the highest overall score, and they are also can be viewed by specific objective, like who had the highest jump and so on. This can also be seen on the tracks itself with billboards near the objectives that display the person with the highest score. Trying to figure out the best way of maximizing a jump, or your speed, or whatever the objective calls for was for me the most enjoyable part of the game.
There is also a Challenge Mode with different mini-games that are unlocked as you progress through the game. These are okay, they’re what you might expect if you’ve played something like Trials. There’s a challenge for flinging the rider as far as you can, one for riding around with a specific amount of gas and so on. These feel sort of copy and pasted from Trials, though if you haven’t played that game then these mini-games might provide you with a fun distraction from the main game modes.
In terms of presentation the graphics are nice. The bike, rider and tracks all have a good amount of detail to them. I find it to be kind of an odd decision, but the backgrounds have a lot going on. There are people running around, cars crashing, explosions, a plane that looks like it’s going to land right on top of you, and more. The way it is implemented it’s mostly a distraction though, very little of it interacts with the tacks itself, and the way it does is sort of annoying, like some courses a person in the background will throw garbage in front of you. When a lot of this is happening that game appears to take a slight framerate dip, nothing severe though and it never impacts playing the game. The backgrounds of the levels at least vary somewhat in appearance. The music and background sound effects are very generic and unremarkable.
The game is very easy to control, X to accelerate, Square to brake, Triangle resets to the last checkpoint, select restarts the level, and the left joystick is for leaning. Would prefer controlling the game with the analog triggers versus the X and Square buttons, however the controls are just fine.
You know how I mentioned I would get back to talking about the level design? Here we go. While I enjoyed my time with the game for what it is, the level design feels like a step back compared to other, similar titles. There is rarely an obstacle that requires thinking about how to lean or accelerate properly to get past, and the obstacles that will stop your progress are annoying. In a game like Joe Danger or Trials there is tight level design with a complete understanding about how the physics in those games work. If you mess up, you know it’s your fault. You needed to bunny hop a little earlier, or should not have tried for so many flips. In Urban Trial Freestyle, there are some BS obstacles that will mess you up no matter what. Specifically there are a couple of levels with flippers that will send you into the air in ways that aren’t predictable and feel cheap. The physics of the game get in the way sometimes, I landed on top of two cop cars parked next to each other once and when I drove forward I somehow pushed the cars away in opposing directions, ending up stuck between them and having to restart a checkpoint. There are some parts of a level that don’t look like they are low enough to knock a rider off of their bike, but are, and in face appear to be in that spot just to knock riders off of their bikes. The rider does tricks randomly after jumps, none of which you can control and sometimes gets in the way. If I’m trying to do a backflip, it’d help if the rider wasn’t trying to do the Superman. Since there’s no point to these tricks, they’re not user controlled and do not add points or anything, I don’t see why they are in the game.
Aside from these annoyances, the game is very easy. I cruised through most of the tracks, only restarting a couple of times to regain the high score on the leaderboards. I think part of the problem is the fact they reuse levels for both objectives and racing, which must make it hard to make levels that really do one or the other really well.
The leaderboards are fun and it is addicting to try and move up the board, aside from that once you complete the game there isn’t much else to return for. Aside from racing ghosts, there is no other form of multiplayer. There are no creation features for those who want to possibly create their own tracks. There are sacks of money to collect in the levels that allow you to purchase items, for the bike and for the character. There are only a few different sets of clothes for the character to purchase. For the bike most of the upgrades aside from the engines seem pointless. There are two more powerful engines to buy, the game can be completed without doing so but the speed boost will be required to get on the leaderboards. The other upgrades effect control of the bike, which I never had an issue with outside of some issues within the game (there’s a loop-de-loop section in one level that requires leaning in a goofy way to make it).
Even though I’m a fan of similar games, I may not have been the best person to review the game. I really enjoyed the objective based levels, however compared to games like Trials or Joe Danger that have far more content, better level design and more polish, that I have a hard time recommending this game. It is fun, it just doesn’t do enough to create its own identity among other titles in the genre to forgive the lack of content.
Short Attention Span Summary
If you’re looking for a Trials type game for the PS3, you’ll walk away disappointed. If you have a more open mind, than Urban Trial Freestyle is a fun motorcycle game with some interesting features and great leaderboard implementation. However, the game does not have the challenge, difficulty, or the great level design of its competitors, so I’d only recommend purchasing it if there is a sale.