Urban Trial Freestyle Review
When people wish for updates of their old favorite games, they often don't realize that what amounted to a great time 25 years ago isn't necessarily going to match with today's standards. For example, remember the NES classic Excitebike? Back in the day, it was tons of fun to hit ramps, race friends and send your 8-bit rider to intensive care. Today? Not so much. Dated as it may seem, some of those mechanics can and do translate to today's games. Urban Trial Freestyle on 3DS is a good example; it complements the bike balancing of Excitebike with stunts, speed runs, customizable rides and riders and, of course, a track editor. As a cheap eShop game, this title will eat up short play sessions. Those looking for a deeper motorbike experience may want to keep looking, though.
Urban Trials Freestyle isn't quite the game I, and maybe you, expected it to be. Rather than motocross racing, the game focuses on a series of increasingly difficult stunt courses. It is your job to make it past the obstacles in 2.5D and keep your rider atop his bike by carefully balancing speed, the tilt of the bike and the ramps and jumps you'll need to nail. It is slightly deeper and more fun than it sounds, I promise. It is also great to pick up and play for a course or two, but anything past that digs into the depth of repetition and boredom. Gaining five stars on all 20 or so courses took me about 3-4 hours over a few days, playing for a minute and moving on to something else. This is really the meat of the game, so saying it is a short one is right on the money.
If you still want to keep playing, though, there is plenty to do. Each of the courses has a somewhat difficult time trial mode, and you can also race against ghosts of yourself and other players around the world. Though it is a tried and true concept, it felt a little out of place in a game more about stunts than score and buzzer-beating. The track editor mode, I suppose, will be a draw for some, as there are plenty of options and objects available, but I found it as flat and uninteresting as the time-based challenges. Finally, the bike and character modification feels capricious and doesn't effect much more than cosmetic stuff. The different bikes have different strengths and weaknesses, but getting through the courses felt pretty much the same from one bike to the next.
If you loved Trials on the 360 and feel like you need that experience on the go, then Urban Trial Freestyle may just be the pick up and play game your 3DS has been waiting for. Casually interested parties or racing fans may want to stick with something else, as this game is ok at best, meh at it's worst. I didn't hate the game; I just don't see myself ever playing or thinking about it again.
Final Rating: 64%. Not too bad while it lasts, but it doesn't last long.