Urban Trial Freestyle

Urban Trial Freestyle was a game that released earlier in the year for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. It was clearly an attempt to ape what the XBLA Trials game was going for, and while it was not on the level of the 360 games, it was a fun physics game with some well-handled mechanics and crazy level design. It was a fun game and a great Vita game that I came to play more of as time went on and actually became my go to quick mobile game. Naturally when I saw the 3DS version I was excited to see a toned down, but hopefully worthy port of a fun mobile game on a platform that is easier to carry in your pocket. However what we got was a half broken attempt of recreating the game that was previously released. The physics in the game are completely unrealistic and feels unreliable compared to the PlayStation version and even the UI is just a mess. While the 3DS is obviously a weaker machine than the Vita from a power aspect, it’s hard to imagine that the developers couldn't do a better job than this.

All of the tracks and game modes from the original version are present in this version as well but in a toned down graphical form and with some compromised menu design. Urban Trial Freestyle sets you loose in a series of levels with time trials and physics based challenges. The levels are fairly carbon copies of the original levels with some important changes. While the levels are the same, in the PlayStation versions of the game there were more animated functions to the levels, such as bridges exploding and shifting the environment, and you will see less of that here to keep the performance rate up. So you have a plethora of levels to play through but unfortunately they are pretty bland compared to other versions of the game. There is also a track editor in the game where you can design your own levels but the game itself isn’t that fun to play this time around so making tracks loses its luster and meaning.

A major issue with the 3DS version is the controls. A physics racing game often relies on button sensitivity for speed adjustments and the 3DS is just not capable of the precise button pressing that is required. You are either coasting or tapping the button and going way too fast. There are really only two buttons you use for gas and reverse and when you hit the gas you can sometimes be driving forward at a complete ninety degree angle which brings up a problem with the physics. It’s almost as if they tried to make a physics game without a physics engine. You can drive your bike at a ninety degree angle and not fall over. It just feels completely unrealistic and causes many issues while trying to make it through a level. The main focus of a game like this should be to make it able to actually play properly and sadly this version of the game is not that. Also its worth pointing out that the grading system for the challenges in this game aren’t as strict as on the other versions so getting five stars on every level is nowhere near as hard and almost makes me wonder why they did it at all. The fun of these types of games is the challenge and makes it just feel like a compromise because of the quality of the game.

While it is on a smaller screen and less powerful machine, I can say that the graphics on Urban Trial Freestyle actually look pretty good on the 3DS and the 3D works extremely well. The game is on a 2D plane so the 3D really makes the foreground elements stand out and doesn’t strain the eyes too much. The sound design remains pretty consistent with the Vita version so you do get some great dirt bike sound effects as well. The real problem with any kind of appearance is the games menus. They are poorly laid out on the bottom screen and confusing to navigate at times. A little streamlining could have gone a long way.

I really enjoyed the previous versions of this game but the 3DS version is sadly just not worth anyone’s time. The 3DS could really use a Trials like game but if one is to succeed they have to make sure the physics actually work. I would have just liked to have seen more time spent on this game because while some people call Urban Trial Freestyle just a Trials HD rip off, it does bring it’s own flavor to the table and is a really fun game to play and great for mobile devices, but the 3DS version is one to skip.