I’m no stranger to games featuring motorsport trials. Each has their own unique feel and aesthetic, including lighthearted cartoon-style and bone-crunching realism, but they share an emphasis on speed and tricks. Now, Tate Interactive has entered the genre with Urban Trial Freestyle.
Urban Trial Freestyle is a motocross racing game that places players in varied, challenging environments on the way to the finish line. During each track run, I was greeted with not only crazy environments full of disasters and hazards, but also challenges that required different approaches to master.
Most of the challenges revolve around jumps or tricks. There are highest jump, longest jump, speed check, flip challenges and other special objectives that appear during a stage. Completing these objectives and setting new records will offer up more points at the completion of the run.
Urban Trial Freestyle utilizes the same concepts that were found in Trails HD and Joe Danger: get to the end of the stage as fast as possible, while completing challenges along the way. The game allows both acceleration with the X button or the Right Trigger and reverse and brake with either the Square button or the Left Trigger. The triggers are the best way to go. Tilting the Right Analog Stick will rotate the bike and driver forward and back.
There are a total of five stars to obtain on each track. In order to unlock newer tracks and challenges, players will need to perform well enough to earn higher rankings. I found myself going back to previously played stages just to improve. Progression is handled fairly, but I did hit a brick wall more than once, halting my advancement.
During each stage, money bags can be collected to add more funds to the player’s account. This money can go towards new outfits for the rider and upgrades for the bike. Parts affect the bike’s performance in one of three ways: acceleration, top speed and handling. There seems to be a trade off for different parts. New engines might improve top speed and acceleration, but at the cost of handling. Alternatively, a better chassis might give greater control, but speed is sacrificed. The performance customization options are somewhat sparse compared to the visual customizations.
Mid-stage checkpoints serve as restart points in case of (frequent) crashes. A simple press of the Triangle button is all that’s required to reset, though. There is a small penalty for reloading from a checkpoint, but it is better than restarting the track.
Urban Trial Freestyle kept me motivated to improve my runs. Signs in the background display previous times and current record-holders. The game even spawns ghosts of the best player on the stage. These all were instrumental in improving my performance. It’s a nice touch.
After finishing every stage in a category, there are some fun, special challenges that unlock and change up game play. One challenge required me to launch my character as far as I could by landing on explosive tanks, while another stage tasked me with going as far as I could on limited fuel.
Physics play a big part in Urban Trial Freestyle, but sometimes they get in the way. There were multiple times when I was doing one of my best runs when something from the background or otherwise uninvolved with my actions would get in the way and cause me to crash. For instance, in one stage I needed to drive onto a wooden board and wait for a large box to fall from the sky to launch me in the air. After coming back down to the ground, the box was just sitting there in my way. These quirks are frustrating, especially when they ruin an otherwise solid run.
Urban Trial Freestyle is a rather enjoyable game. It frustrated me, and some things felt unfair, but that never stopped me from restarting the track for another shot at beating that ghost. The presentation and customization options are not too exciting, but they get the job done. If you’re into Trials-type games, this is one you may want to try.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PlayStation 3.