Having already seen release on PlayStation Vita, Urban Trial Freestyle comes to the Nintendo 3DS on good form. Tate Multimedia have done the obvious in bringing a familiar videogame experience to a format which doesn’t already host the genre leader, but in the quality of Urban Trial Freestyle we can find forgiveness for it’s obvious copycatting.
Almost completely devoid of originality, Urban Trial Freestyle is practically identical to Red Lynx and Ubisoft’s hugely successful Trials HD. The player mounts a motorcycle and ventures through a series of obstacle courses on a 2D plane. Totally in the realm of fantasy, the player will jump and twist as they manipulate both speed and the position of their rider on order to land square and true, as failing to do so will see you respawn at one of the fairly generous checkpoints.
As if in acknowledgement that it would only ever be considered a Trials HD clone, Urban Trial Freestyle begins with elaborate shapeshifting courses. There is no training: simply drive and see what happens. Tilting pipes, sliding ramps and sky high jumps are challenging the player within the very first level, creating an exciting balance between speed and precision early on. Furthermore, Urban Trial Freestyle adds height and distance challenges to its otherwise formulaic Trials HD gameplay: a coloured bar will be present on certain objects depicted the target height or distance, with the goal typically being to surpass it or aim accurately upon it.
The core gameplay mode is a high score challenge on which bails are fails and the above challenges are an important factor. Sadly, although Urban Trial Freestyle does feature online leaderboards they may only be used when connected to the internet (the software will not update scores attained offline when next connecting) and so competing against your personal best is an important factor, and Urban Trial Freestyle does take this into account. In addition to this core gameplay mode is a time trial challenge for every level and the option to build your own courses.
The track creation suite allows you to take any existing level and remove all non-environmental obstacles. Using the touchscreen, the player can then add any of the dozens of objects to the level in almost any fashion they see fit, manipulating position, height, size and angle as they so wish. This allows for some surprisingly inventive and unique creations, with players able to squeeze just as much variation out of this toolset as that featured in the critically acclaimed Trials Evolution.
Despite being an obvious downgrade from the PlayStation Vita edition of the videogame, the visual quality of Urban Trial Freestyle on Nintendo 3DS is commendable. The rider may be rather angular but the environment detail is never short of impressive. The stereoscopic 3D effect of the Nintendo 3DS doesn’t add much to the experience, but nor does it detract from the intensity of Urban Trial Freestyle’s challenges.
While it’s only ever going to play second fiddle to the genre frontrunner, Urban Trial Freestyle is the closest that any papier-mâché copy has yet come to replicating the strengths of Red Lynx’s pioneer. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable dexterity challenge and is filled with plenty of unlockable content to prevent the videogame from becoming stale. Urban Trial Freestyle isn’t about to steal the gold medal from Trials HD, but it’s certainly earned a podium finish.