It’s difficult to market a game whose premise is so similar to that of the hugely popular Trials series. As you may well have guessed, this is the problem that Urban Trials Freestyle has to go through. That said, once you look beyond the obvious similarities of the two different titles, you soon realise that Urban Trial Freestyle isn’t just a shameless rip-off trying to cash-in on a particular genre. It’s actually rather good.
Maybe it’s because it’s been out on the PlayStation Network since February, but Urban Trial Freestyle hasn’t received much fanfare on the 3DS shop. However, delving through the categories, you’ll find this little gem for just over £6. For that kind of money you’ll get a decent amount of playtime with a variety of levels that get progressively more and more difficult.
While it would be the obvious thing to compare each detail to the Trials games, I’d do more justice to the title by classing it as its own entity. First of all, you get five areas, each with four levels, giving you 20 levels in total to play with. Although, these can be completed relatively quickly, each level can be finished in two ways – essentially giving you 20 levels extra to ride through. There’s the trick route, where you have to complete certain criteria such as getting a high-jump score or a high-flip count that all add up to your final total. Alternatively, you can then go through slightly altered levels in time-trials. Completing each level type will net you stars depending on how well you do with a maximum of five to get. New areas are also unlocked by gaining a certain amount of stars in the previous area.
Each level is also rather well designed, providing a variety of objects to ride over and traverse. Unfortunately, it’s really not all that difficult up until the final sections. It would’ve been nice to have a more gradient difficulty curve instead of the sudden upward spike at the end. One upside of this approach is that the last few levels are really where things get interesting as well as infuriating.
This last section is comprised of four challenge levels with varying degrees of difficulty. The first makes use of your 3DS’ gyroscope to change the shift of gravity – thus letting you ride on steep diagonal surfaces and walls, as well as quickly swapping between two surfaces to avoid traps. It’s certainly a novel way to design a game level, but the novelty wears off quickly and instead melts into frustration as you try to quickly, and rather awkwardly, spin the 3DS around only to discover you’re now going too fast for a certain section and thus end up crashing for the umpteenth time. That said, it’s nice to see an interesting and new idea implemented into the genre, so credit where it’s due.
There’s also a somewhat limited customisation option in Urban Trial Freestyle that allows you to chose between different helmets, boots, jerseys, trousers and gloves. It’s not a huge selection, but it’s merely cosmetic as bike customisation is really how you help it perform better. Using parts obtained from completing areas, there’s three set builds of bikes to chose from that serve as a framework for your own modifications if you don’t fancy starting from scratch. It’s a really surprisingly easy tool to use.
There’s also a rather simple to use course creator that contains a large catalogue of items to put to use when creating a bike, I certainly ended up spending a good couple of hours building a course that I liked. There’s space to build up to 30 tracks, but it would have been nice to share and download tracks built by other people, as without it there doesn’t seem to be any real reason for having so many spaces.
For just over £6 on the 3DS shop, there’s a lot of content on offer, but not a huge amount to keep you coming back. The ‘40’ levels can be completed rather quickly and, unless you’re the type to get maximum stars in games to unlock new bikes and gear, there isn’t much to draw you back. If you’re a fan of the Trials games, however, and you’re looking for a portable fix of the genre then this could be what you’re looking for with some fun levels and some very challenges to boot.
Audio/Visual – 3/5: Very typical rock music in the menus and nothing special graphically, all very simple stuff here.
Gameplay – 3/5: n enjoyable experience and the level builder can draw you in for a good couple of hours.
Innovation – 4/5: Does well to try and part itself from the overshadowing Trials games with some nice – if a little frustrating – game mechanics.
Value – 3/5: Just over £6 seems a bit steep for how much you get in the game but it could be a worthy price for the completionists out there and fans of the series.