Friday, 15 November 2013

Review: Urban Trial Freestyle (PC)

There's a simplicity to Urban Trial Freestyle that does a good job, at least initially, of burying the complexity required to truly master the game.

Manoeuvring the rider through a nightmare motocross obstacle course, the controls amount to accelerate, brake, lean forward, and lean backward. The simple combination of those four control directions with the occasionally bizarre interactive and changing "course" creates an environment whereby the player must exhibit some skill and sometimes just get a lucky break to make it through the course or match challenge markers (like longest distance). It doesn't hurt to upgrade the bike either.

What I like most about Urban Trail Freestyle is that the penalty for screwing up is restarting at the nearest checkpoint. Checkpoints are liberally spread throughout each course so when players bail (and they will, a lot) and sometimes in spectacular ways, it's a button press to try again.

Opening additional tracks as the "campaign" progresses is relatively easy. Doing well on each course earns a score out of five stars. The more cumulative stars collected, the more levels that can be accessed. There were only a few times, that I felt like I needed to re-try an entire course to earn more stars, knowing that I'd need them later.

Besides the simple thrill of finishing a course, the game also pulls in ghost data of other players to test yourself against. It's easy to think you just made a gloriously long jump, but when the ghost of some other player lands meters in front of you, it might poke that competitive part of your brain to re-run courses over and over trying to replicate the feat. That's when the player should realize how deceptively complex the game is because there might be more to grabbing a highscore than simply upgrading the bike.

Urban Trial Freestyle has a tinge of "time waster" about it, one of those games you can play for a few minutes here and there, especially with the extra Challenges, which are ridiculous fun. Races are quick but it'was easy to get sucked into that mindset to "try it one more time" and have a quick ten minutes spin out into ninety minutes.

That's because I was having fun.

- Aaron Simmer

The Good:
- Easy to get into, difficult to truly master
- Creative urban environments
- Slight penalty for screwing up

The Bad:
- The mosquito buzz of the engine got irritating

Score: 8.0 / 10

Check out Urban Trial Freestyle in action: