There's something immediately gratifying about riding along linear courses on a dirt bike while trying to achieve high scores and pull off cool tricks. Urban Trial Freestyle 2 continues this trend so let's see if it's worth a few broken bones.
RedLynx's Trials series has seen plenty of similar titles pop up around it over the years. However, not many of them can be played on the go. Thankfully, Urban Trial Freestyle 2 is a portable iteration of the classic trials-based formula. Although I haven't played the original, I must say that the gameplay here is actually quite solid, especially considering it's built specifically for 3DS. The physics are well-handled as you accelerate, brake, and shift your centre of gravity in order to pop wheelies, flip from ramps, and bounce your front tire off obstacles. Being able to master courses to the point where you can breeze through them is a satisfying endeavor but whenever you accidentally wipe out, the result is usually humorous enough to alleviate some of the heartbreak. Even though it's been done already, Urban Trial Freestyle 2 still adds up to a fun pocket-sized experience.
Urban Trial Freestyle 2 is a decent-looking game with environments that are easy to navigate with their unambiguous graphics. It does appear a bit dated and gritty at times but these moments don't get in the way of the enjoyable gameplay. However, one part of the visuals that I find poorly executed is the fact that the stages are very lifeless. Considering you ride around in suburban areas and in the middle of cities, the fact that there are no cars driving on the roads or people walking around seems like a huge missed opportunity. Anyway, the music fits the gameplay by offering rocking electric guitar riffs and the sound effects are quite satisfying, too.
The main appeal of Urban Trial Freestyle 2 that'll keep you playing for longer than you'd expect is the scoring system. Basically, you're awarded points at the end of each stage according to how well you performed. Also, there are a few portions of each stage that test various skills. For example, how high you can jump off a ramp or how many degrees you can flip in mid-air. Before reaching these parts, signs clearly indicate how you'll be tested so it's great fun showing off your skills then seeing your score at the end. You also climb leaderboards and are awarded stars and money that you can use to purchase additional gear including clothes for your character and upgrades for your bike. It's an addictive dynamic that'll make you constantly want to try your best.
On top of a load of stages that are contained within a handful of themed areas, you can also create your own tracks. I found the creation tool to be very intuitive as you use the stylus to place and make adjustments to ramps and such. You can change the size, position, and rotation of each object and end up creating some pretty tricky situations on your own. It's fantastic that you can trade your courses with others but you need to exchange codes in order to do so as there is no comprehensive online hub available.
My biggest complaint with Urban Trial Freestyle 2 is that it doesn't do much to differentiate itself from similar games. It has no unique attributes besides being portable and having 3D visuals (which actually look quite good). Another big problem is that the difficulty is too forgiving at times yet some portions are irritatingly tricky. Specifically, messing up rarely results in crashing which makes large parts of the campaign way too easy. Then again, there are certain situations that require you to play through multiple times in order to figure out and memorize how to pass them. Those moments are out of place and add unnecessary frustration to the overall experience.
Urban Trial Freestyle 2 is a mostly enjoyable portable Trials-like game that features plenty of content. Although the formula has been done better before, what you get here is still solid enough to be worth checking out.
- + Solid Trials-inspired gameplay
- + Unique scoring system makes tricks fun and adds a good amount of replay value
- + You can create and share tracks
- - Environments are rather lifeless
- - The basic gameplay doesn't do much to differentiate itself from Trials
- - Difficulty is all over the map