Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Game Controls Rating:
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It is a rare occurrence when a relative newcomer can ride in and usurp the market leader. Urban Trial Freestyle is hoping to do just that, by trumping Red Lynx’s free-to-play offering of Trials Frontier from earlier this year. In order to do that, Freestyle has a long and hard climb to get to the top of the heap. Is it up to the task, or will slight missteps prevent the game from claiming the coveted title of “King of the Hill?”
Trials games are known for their breakneck speed, borderline-insane obstacles, and the lurking sense that the player could die at any moment. If these were the only metrics for measuring the success of Urban Trial Freestyle, the game would instantly be crowned the victor. The problem is that under a passable presentation layer lurk core issues with the gameplay that quickly erode away at its quality.
First off, the controls are completely out of whack. The game features an on-screen joypad that is used to adjust the pitch of the rider. While perfectly responsive one moment, the next can render the pad’s reaction time sluggish enough to derail even the most seasoned of veterans. In a genre that is so dependent upon precision controls and pinpoint timing, the inconsistency will undoubtedly result in countless rage quits. Hopefully the developers see the problem and patch in a D-pad at a later date. This alone would help bring the control scheme more in-line with its peers and render the game instantly more approachable.
Another stumbling block is the layouts of the stages. There comes a time in most runs where the method to progress down the track can become increasingly unclear. In many cases the only way to discover that a particular path is insurmountable is through the ever-frustrating process of trial and error. Especially in cases where players need to stall their bike in order to slide backwards down the track, the lack of any direction is unacceptable.
On the plus side, Urban Trial Freestyle does include a whopping forty maps. These stages include a bevy of challenges and alternate goals to go along with the already difficult level design. As far as a genuine Trials experience goes, this game is far more in parity with Red Lynx’s console franchise than Frontier. Multi-layered approaches to each track help provide players with several different approaches to tackling any obstacle - as long as they can figure out where in the bloody heck they have to go.
Elements like competing against ghosts of friends, countless mini-goals scattered throughout, a time trial mode, and even a level designer, help make Urban Trial Freestyle easily the most fully-featured Trials experience on iOS. Unfortunately the core gameplay still suffers from a critical lack of polish, which ultimately makes it very difficult to recommend. Potential buyers may be better off hitting the breaks and waiting to see if these issues are addressed with a patch later on down the road.