If you enjoy high octane motorcycle action on the go, then look no further than Urban Trial Freestyle on the 3DS eShop!
Story & Plot:
If you’re not familiar with the trials games already, here is what they are about in a nutshell. You are a death defying motorcycle rider and you’re given the most insane tracks to tempt fate on. These tracks will take you across several urban backdrops such as downtown, the outskirts, an industrial park, underground, and even to the train depot where you race your bike across a moving train.
There really isn’t any plot, although it would have been neat if we got a look inside the rider’s head. All you need to figure out is how to get from the start of the course, to the finish, while pulling off impossible stunts and preventing your head from splitting open. The deaths that you will encounter, and you will encounter them, are that of pure hilarity. Nothing graphic, which is a good thing, but rubber band physics at their finest.
Gameplay & Controls:
The most important aspect of a Trials game is the controls. This is a game based on physics where if you lean too far backwards or too far forwards and you will feel the consequences. Thankfully, the controls feel really responsive using the 3DS circle pad. This game actually felt a little more forgiving than I was expecting which I didn’t mind at all. Several times I even found myself riding up a ramp almost upside-down. The game does feature a quick snap back to the last checkpoint if you wish to count instances like that as a fail.
As for the layout, it’s pretty much what you would expect. The circle pad handles your balance, A accelerates, B brakes, Y places you in reverse, and X will send you back to your last check point in an instant. Start beings up you pause menu which strangely you can’t do at the very start of a race or when you come back to a check point. You need to move, even just an eighth of an inch, before you can pause which I find a weird design choice. On the pause screen you can continue from where you paused, restart at the last checkpoint (same thing as pressing X), restart the track entirely, or go back to the garage which serves as the menu hub.
Thank god for checkpoints in this game. They are very generously placed around the track, usually after a stunt, and give you a sigh of relief if you took you a lot to overcome an obstacle. When traversing a track, keep a look out for alternate paths and hidden tunnels. Many of these tracks have branching paths for you to explore.
Another thing I feel I need to mention is several times while playing this for review, I encountered poor clipping and even got stuck while landing from a jump. Thankfully, a quick press of the X button solved the problem, but it was annoying. I captured a video of it so you can see what I mean.
There are 4 main game modes crammed into this wonderful Trials package. There’s stunt, time attack, challenge, and a track maker.
The game works like this, you go to the city map and pick your “world” so to speak. At first, only Downtown is open to you, so in you go. Default is set to Stunt mode which tasks you to accomplish a number of stunts through each course. These stunts include highest jump, longest jump, speed tests, flip tests, and even precision landing. At the end of the track you are graded based on your performance. Each stunt nets you a certain amount of points, based on how well you did. Then if you’re fast enough, you get points as a time bonus. For each time you have to restart at the last checkpoint, you lose 100 points. Your total points are not only calculated against your best run, but also the best score in the world on that track so you can see how you’re doing. You’re also given a 0-5 star rating.
Time attack is the same track as stunt, but instead of being graded on your stunt performance, you are graded by how fast you get to each checkpoint. What’s nice is that you can progress through the game via either mode so if you’re not good on stunts, go for time attack, and vice-verse.
Now each “world” contains four levels. If you can get five stars on each of these levels, you open up a challenge track. These tracks are punishingly difficult and really up the ante. It may take a while before you even unlock your first challenge track, but use it as motivation to become the best Trials player in the world!
Finally we have the track editor which is exclusive to the 3DS version of this game. For starters, you are given save slots for 30 tracks so you have plenty of space to mess around. Once you select your save slot, you are allowed to choose your decor, or background, from a list of eight. From there, it’s into the editor. Once inside, you can pan the camera all across your track and start placing your pieces. Each piece you choose you can then duplicate, rotate, or delete it. It’s very extensive and really gives you the tools to allow your imagination to run wild!
Scattered throughout each track are bags of money. Money is used in the bike shop to customize your bike or to customize your riders outfit. If you enjoy customization than you’re in luck. There are plenty of options here for you to pick from. Just make sure you’ve scoured each level for money as some of these upgrades are expensive.
Graphics & Sound:
The graphics are quite pretty for the 3DS. Your character model looks okay up close but much better from farther out, which is where the camera is most of the time. The bikes look fairly standard from a distance yet up close have lots of little details which add to the experience.
As for the tracks themselves, they are quite expansive but also very cluttered. Thankfully, the 3D effect in this game is quite excellent and it helps distinguish what is in the background vs. what is part of the track. There were also a few levels that featured steel beams sticking out towards the camera. I thought this was a neat little effect in 3D.
They went with a very rich color palette that helps each level feel alive. It does have a little bit of a cartoon look to it, but I think that’s part of the draw.
Sadly the sound is pretty forgettable. It does the job but didn’t make any lasting impression on me. Often times I was too focused on scaling the next obstacle and tuned out the sound altogether.
This title definitely deserves to be part of the Trials series. It captures the look and feel of previous games while adding excellent 3D effects. If you’ve enjoyed previous games in the series or just want some challenge while on the go, than I highly recommend Urban Trials Freestyle. At the time of this writing it is on sale as well so there’s no better time to pick it up.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
+ Generous check points
+ Extensive track editor
+ Fantastic controls
+ Clever stages
+ Good use of 3D
- Only 20 main tracks
- Forgettable music
- Some tracks feel a little too short