Urban Trial Freestyle preview: bringing Trials to PlayStation

Simply put, Urban Trial Freestyle is a ripoff of the Trials games. But RedLynx's successful motocross franchise hasn't ever graced a PlayStation platform, making it a ripe opportunity for competitors to take advantage of. Tate Multimedia's offering is targeting both PS3 and Vita via PlayStation Network, and is largely successful at capturing the addictive gotta-try-it-again gameplay of the games that inspired it.


For the uninitiated, the 2D motocross genre has players navigating their stunt cycle through obstacle-laden undulating courses. Super sensitive analog controls adjust the cycle's pitch through the air, with slight errors mid-air leading to often-disastrous spills. Players are encouraged to quickly repeat courses, trying to shave off milliseconds off their best times.

Urban Trial Freestyle definitely gets the basics right. I had no trouble racing and pulling stunts off immediately. The game one-ups Trials by going for a "Hollywood action movie" vibe, with tons of explosions, dynamic level paths, and some bizarre obstacles. In one level, for example, you must drive past a runaway wrecking ball, avoid a police blockade, and crash through into an underground tunnel filled with animatronic zombies. It's certainly a spectacle.

With instant-restarts and asynchronous racing against leaderboard ghosts, Urban Trial Freestyle provides all the fundamentals necessary for an entertaining motocross game. However, the game's initial release will miss a key feature that made Trials so successful: a level editor. It's something that developer Tate Multimedia is considering for post-game release (either via title update or DLC). Players will have to be content with the 45+ levels included in the launch version of the game.

And while Urban Trial Freestyle will launch on both Vita and PS3, there are currently no plans to support "Cross Buy" (which would let you get both versions of the game with a single purchase). While both versions play similarly, the two aren't actually carbon-copies of each other. The Vita version features the same environments, but the levels are quite different, "adapted" for smaller-screen gameplay.

Given the total absence of the genre on PlayStation platforms, Urban Trial Freestyle appears to be a good-enough representation for PS3 and Vita owners. However, if Tate aims just a little bit higher, adds UGC and Cross-Buy, it could really elevate the game to something unique for PlayStation Network.