Urban Trial Freestyle is, without a doubt, a game inspired by and borrowing heavily from RedLynx and Ubisoft’s popular Trials series for the Xbox 360 and PC. However, the original version of the game, which made its debut simultaneously on the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, was able to provide a fun time with some touches that differentiated it a bit from its Microsoft-only counterpart.
Now, the game has made the jump to Nintendo’s ship with a new version rebuilt from the ground up for the 3DS. The result is another fun game that, while a bit short on the multiplayer and online features, is a title that turns out to be perfectly suited to the pick-up-and-play approach many gamers take with their handhelds.
Despite using polygonal graphics, Urban Trial Freestyle is a 2D game at heart. Players control a motorbike driver who rides his vehicle across several levels generally set in various city areas, jumping off ramps, clearing pits, and performing stunts such as flips along the way. The player’s path is preset, with your only controls being the abilities to press the gas, brake, reverse, and use the control stick to tilt your bike forward or backward to maintain your balance.
Your end goal is simply to reach the end of each level in one piece, and though there are thankfully numerous checkpoints spread out along the way, there are still bumpy areas and even collapsible sections of each track to throw you off balance and cause you to fall off or crash. In some levels, this is easier said than done, but thankfully, you have unlimited lives and quickly respawn at the latest checkpoint whenever you screw up, so frustration is generally at a minimum.
Indeed, despite having a few tricky parts, the levels here are generally not frustrating, especially compared to the later levels of the Trials series. Not only does this make for a more inviting experience for those new to this kind of game, but there’s a decent amount of replay value. Though you can probably breeze through the tracks once in less than two hours, the inclusion of two separate modes, Time Attack and Stunt Mode, provide a reason to revisit tracks, along with a five-star rating system for each level to encourage a perfect run.
Bags of cash can be found in every level, with some being right in your path and others requiring a little more finesse to get. The money you earn can be spent both on cosmetic clothing changes for your biker, and more importantly, on stat-enhancing upgrades for your bike, to upgrade aspects like acceleration and handling.
Time Attack works exactly like you’d expect it to, with your main goal being to make it to the finish line as quickly as possible. Stunt Mode throws in some more variety, with the end goal being to earn a high score by pulling off the right moves in certain marked sections. These moves vary from landing near a certain point after a jump to pulling off flips in midair, and add an extra layer of challenge for perfectionists.
Besides the obvious lower resolution, some graphical aspects have been toned down or removed in the jump to the 3DS. Most notable is the lack of bystanders jumping out of your way at certain points, along with far less dynamically changing environmental sections. Not to say that the latter is completely gone, though. The last level in particular has you on a moving train, with ramps and other obstacles speeding by above you. Good use is made of the system’s 3D effect as well, with objects and environmental effects like dust and dirt clouds noticeably protruding from the foreground.
An unfortunate omission is the lack of any substantial online or multiplayer feature. Scores can apparently be uploaded to a leaderboard if you are connected to wi-fi when starting the game, but I couldn’t find any way to actually view them, outside of specific points in each level that display the world’s current all-time best scores for that part.
A notable new feature comes in the form of a track editor, allowing you to pick a background template and place the game’s various environmental objects however you see fit. I was able to make a functioning track after a bit of time spent in the editor, so it definitely works. The problem is that there’s no way to share tracks with other players, neither online or locally. I ultimately found it hard to justify putting the time into making a quality track knowing that no one else would be able to play it.
Despite disappointing on the multiplayer and potential community aspects, the actual single-player portions that make up Urban Trial Freestyle are very solid overall. The brief length of each level turns out to be well-suited to the brief play sessions mobile gaming devices are known for, as you can easily go through a level or two when you have a few minutes to spare. Though it won’t take a long time to get through every level, those who are willing to go for perfect five-star runs will be able to get enough bang for their buck. Overall, it’s a title that does a good job of providing a fun time, and those looking for a new 3DS diversion might want to look into it.
This review is based on the 3DS version of the game, which was provided to us for review purposes.