Trials games don't come out as often as they should so we'll have to settle for these cheap knock-offs. That being said, Urban Trial Playground is a surprisingly fun little game so take off your helmet and get ready to do some tricks.
That's right; Urban Trial Playground is played like a Trials game and it's the third entry in Tate Multimedia's Urban Trial series. For the unfamiliar, you ride a dirt bike while trying to master stages. However, you have to maintain your centre of balance or else you may wipe out. Therefore, pulling tricks and getting high scores can be a challenging endeavor. Urban Trial Playground adds a few gameplay mechanics to this established formula by allowing you to duck and jump as well as control your front and rear brakes. It feels awesome to accelerate at a high speed, duck, then leap off a ramp to do a double flip and land on one wheel only to pop a wheelie for a few seconds and watch your trick multiplier exponentially increase in the process. Overall, the controls are tight and the few new mechanics definitely add a welcome layer of complexity to the otherwise basic gameplay.
All of that being said, Urban Trial Playground is possibly the most casual Trials-like game that I've ever played but that isn't necessarily bad. In fact, if you find the Trials series to be frustrating with its unarguably intense level of difficulty then you may enjoy Urban Trial Playground a great deal. On the other hand, if you're a veteran of the series then you'll probably get bored of the low level of challenge featured here. Either way, there's no denying that Urban Trial Playground is still a fun game and mastering its stages is addictive.
Speaking of stages, there are a ton of them in Urban Trial Playground with a total of 26 environments and 54 single player missions to complete. Each environment looks fantastic and you'll find yourself racing through suburban areas, beaches, bridges, mansions, malls, and even airports. The single player missions either involve getting high scores by doing tricks or beating time trials. Each type obviously involves its own strategy. For example, stringing together a ton of different tricks will likely get you five stars in the stunt mode while performing minimal tricks and frequently popping wheelies will help you complete the time trials. As you play, you can find hidden chips and complete missions that award you money which you can use to purchase custom parts for your rider and bike. Making your character look as radical as possible and maxing out your bike's stats is well worth the effort.
When it comes to content, you can either play through the 54 single player missions or play against a local friend. After completing a solo mission, you can see where you rank on the leaderboard then try and climb to the top which is great as a lot of indie game developers forget that online rankings add a lot of replay value. Once you've had enough fun by yourself, you can challenge a friend in Competition or Chase mode. After I played a few rounds with a pal, we unfortunately didn't have much fun. I wish there were more multiplayer options such as four player, online, mini-games, etc. Also, Urban Trial Freestyle 2 featured a track editor and that was on 3DS so the fact that Urban Trial Playground lacks one is pretty disappointing. Hopefully, the developers will add such features in an update.
In the end, Urban Trial Playground is an impressively enjoyable take on the Trials formula that'll appeal to those who find Trials too frustrating. However, if you take your dirt bike tricks seriously then you should stick to the classics.
- + Tight yet casual Trials-style gameplay
- + Loads of great-looking stages to master
- + Rewarding collectibles and missions / climbing leaderboards is fun
- - Trials veterans may be put off by the overall lack of challenge
- - Could use more modes such as a track editor and online multiplayer