When I first loaded up Urban Trial Freestyle on my PS3, I was met with a voice over on the loading screen which seemed to be reporting on a dangerous biker that police could not stop, and an opening video that kept stuttering. It all seemed a bit glitchy, and before the game had even started. Perhaps, I thought, I’d need to lower my expectations.
It’s a good thing then that, past the dodgy opening, there lies a well crafted and fun 2.5D stunt bike game. The game starts with two training levels that teach the basics of the game controls and the two types of events in the main game, these being speed runs and trick based runs.
The controls themselves are simple, with X being accelerate, square being brake/reverse, and the left analog helping maintain balance as you make your way along the track. The implementation of brake and reverse on the same button is a bit poor. Driving games generally have that dual function cause you to come to a stop and then reverse without taking your finger off the button.
Not quite an Olympic style long jump. At least the environments are rather varied.
Points are earned by completing tricks in the trick runs, and also by beating a stage as quickly as possible. That’s easier said than done, though, and you won’t be mastering any stages on the first few runs.
This is down to a combination of things, including the need to upgrade your bike to hit the highest heights and land the flips, and the dynamic nature of the stages.
Those stages are impressive, too. Urban Trial Freestyle looks graphically stunning, with areas that are full of colour and a range of locations from city streets to factory floors, and woodland areas. Each of these stages have their own features which all look great, and are also filled with little scenes, like a person being chased by police, and hazards that can end your run if you’re not careful.
One of the better stages that showcases these hazards takes place on a motorway where an accident has occurred. You’ll ride along the road and atop cars, but you’ll soon see a train come off the tracks and hurtle towards the road, and then you’ll reach a part of the road that crumbles beneath you as you ride along. Though these hazards may seem like they could end your run, you’ll soon find that some hazards open alternate paths, also giving access to money bags which you can use towards purchasing upgrades for your bike or outfits.
The upgrades consist of getting new tyres, chassis and engines for your bike to better tackle individual stages. These upgrades affect your bikes maximum speed, acceleration rate, and handling. The most expensive upgrades will take quite a bit of time to get, as money bags in each stage will not always be easy to reach.You quickly realise that one bike set up is not ideal for every stage, and you’ll have to keep changing the combination of tyres and engines to get five stars on a stage, meaning the most expensive set up isn’t necessarily the best.
The stars are an important feature which unlock more stages. Early on in the game you’ll unlock stages quickly but as you progress you’ll find yourself replaying earlier levels to earn better scores to improve your star rating, allowing further progress in the game. It’s a good system as it forces you to learn the intricacies of each stage and really get to know just how to handle your bike in the various situations, to get more points.
An office. One of the varied areas in the game.
There are a lot of ramps and drops that are great locations to pull off a flip, but there’s no point as you don’t earn anything for doing it. It’s a shame because that could have added to the already good competitive side Urban Trial Freestyle has.
As you play you’ll see billboards showing who in the world currently holds a certain record relevant to the stage you’re in. During speed runs you’ll go up against that player’s ghost. You’ll certainly want to beat others scores, as well as your own, which adds great replay value to the game as you try to beat other’s scores, and hold your place in the leaderboards.
The way the records are shown is unobtrusive, with your personal best being represented as a yellow line in a trick area, and the world record as a green line. I don’t know what colour that line is if you hold the record though, because I haven’t beat a record yet. There are a lot of records to break in both the regular game mode, and the Challenge mode.
Challenge mode consists of events that offer alternative objectives to complete, such as making your biker ride onto some explosive canisters to see how far you can fling him, or covering as much distance as possible while conserving fuel. These stages also have to be unlocked by progressing through the main game.
- Addictive gameplay.
- Variety of dynamic stages.
- Visually great to look at.
- Leaderboards add competitive side.
- Brake/reverse can be a bit fiddly.
- No extra points given for tricks outside of trick zones.
Urban Trial Freestyle is a very good stunt game that has the potential to provide hours of entertainment, especially if you like trying to break records, be they your own or others. There’ll be some who will compare this to RedLynx’s Trials games, and that’s a fair comparison, but Tate Multimedia’s Urban Trial Freestyle can certainly stand up as a good game in its own right.