A rhyming title is about as exciting as this gets
As consoles almost merge into one another with a stream of physical titles whose orientation doesn’t bend to a particular piece of hardware, online marketplaces are now arenas of envy. For gaming behemoths. Each year, the Xbox’s Summer of Arcade proudly stands with instant classics bolted onto its crown, one of them being the astoundingly addictive Trials series. While a bevy of excellent titles have graced the Playstation Network in artistic brilliance, it never dabbled in cooking up pixelated meth it could proudly call its own, until today. Meet Urban Trial Freestyle, a shop bought copycat brand with about as much soul as a corkboard.
Urban Trial Freestyle is an EXTREME look at travelling through the back alleys of Croydon. Donning a bike and no shirt, you (or some sort of redneck/chav hybrid rendition of you) is sent off to ride through junkyards in a bid to reach the end of said junkyards. Why? Well, for the thrill of it all I guess, but the end result is about as awe inspiring as sitting down to write a review on Urban Trial Freestyle.
Urban Trial Freestyle doesn’t so much borrow from the Xbox exclusives so much as attempt to bludgeon them to death for shrapnel. The resulting shambles is about as effective as a Smurf tackling Goliath. Controls consist of you carefully attempting to balance your motorbike through waves of bumps and jumps from start to finish. To be fair it does this rather bloody well, with accuracy and skill determining whether you can even tackle the fairest of land. It’s just the enthusiasm soon fades when the game gives you nothing much to test your new found balancing abilities on.
The problem is, UTF did a runner before it nicked what truly matters. Yes, the mechanics are all there, but the tracks do nothing to really push the limits of your capabilities. You’ll tackle the odd big ramp and loopy woopy woooooo, but more often than not challenge will come in the form of planks of wood, cardboard boxes and molehills. The game feels easy to learn, easy to master, with more emphasis put in cash collectables than actual design. So much so that you’ll be forced to replay through the same linear tracks again and again, with some environments seemingly merging with the last/next, it’s all rather quick to grate.
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Did a runner before it nicked what truly matters The game tries to mix things up with the occasional trick based event, but it’s all too little too late. Returning to old tracks in which you’d basically hold accelerate to win, you’re forced to spin as much as you can and jump as high as possible…at pre-designated points in a map. Because you’ve pretty much done it all before in standard events to liven things up, it doesn’t feel any more exciting here, and the lack of actual awesome dynamic stunts on offer don’t exactly help.
A mirage of improvement is offered through the upgrades system, but anything you invest in has little to no apparent change on things. Shelling out on new tires and engines radically alters one stat, but rapidly diminishes another (apparently), meaning if you snag all the top tier upgrades…you end up with the same bike you had to begin with. Shelling out on alterations to your bike make it no more powerful, and dishing out on personalisation items for you character make you look no less of a douche.
We might have a USP here with the games’ HARDCORE edge, inviting players to tear up pavement with horsepower. Unfortunately, if you don’t like grit, gravel and shards of street life shoved down your throat at high velocity, the surroundings will soon out sigh you in it’s over the top attempts to make go ‘WOAH!’ your neighbours awake. The game’s backgrounds are more alive than the actual tracks you’ll be facing, with blokes knocking over innocent cardboard, cop chases gone awry and planes attempting to land on your head. Problem is, 95% of it is simply eye fodder, and when it does invade gameplay, it feels somewhat cheap when you don’t see it coming. When nothing exciting is going on, you’ll be treated to 49 different shades of grey (one more and there would’ve been a potential lawsuit), with the odd grimace of brown chucked in for good measure.
You won’t feel joy when you finish a level in Urban Trial Freestyle. You won’t feel anger when you fail a level at Urban Trial Freestyle. Puttering from beginning to end, a combination of plain locales and dull piles of repetitive tracks demolish any fun seeping in. While the backbone of the experience is nicely polished with controls remaining solid throughout, such uninspiring surroundings flatten the scale that could weigh the game down in good or bad territory, instead chucking it into entertainment limbo. Those who have played anything Trials related will guffaw at this like a scrawny child trying to impress their father with a Fight Club stamp collection. Anyone who jumps into this with no knowledge of better alternatives however will just play until they realise there are more productive things to do with their time…like y’know, scrutinizing.
The Good: Tight bike controls, Lots of collectables to gather…
The Bad: …but no real motivation to collect them, Dull tracks that do little to challenge your skills, coupled with equally dull visuals