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Gaming Review

Downloadable game reviews: Urban Trial Freestyle, Highborn, Binary Boy

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Released on Wednesday, Feb 27 2013

Each week, Digital Spy rounds up the biggest downloadable gaming releases with reviews and trailers. This week's games include a Trials-inspired physics platformer for the PlayStation, a strategy game originating on mobiles that's been given an upgrade for the PC and a quirky browser-based gravity-flipping title that's not even half an hour long.

> This week's biggest mobile games reviewed

Urban Trial Freestyle

Developer: Tate Interactive
Platforms: PlayStation 3 (reviewed), PlayStation Vita
Price: £11.99 (PS3), £7.99 (Vita)

It's clear that Urban Trial Freestyle took direct inspiration from the excellent Trials series. It's similarly clear that it pales when compared to the RedLynx franchise.

Having said that, Urban Trial Freestyle is still a competent side-scrolling physics platformer that can be enjoyed on its own merit. The controls are weighty and solid, leaderboards and hidden routes are well-implemented and the stages are fairly interesting.

For each stage, you'll be asked to either set the fastest time (time attack) or earn the most points via impressive flips or jumps (stunt mode). They're both entertaining to play, and though it begins easy enough, the difficulty ramps up to the point where getting four or five stars seems impossible at times.

Urban Trial Freestyle screenshot on PlayStation Vita / PS3

© Tate Multimedia



But it's a shame that by that point, you might find yourself growing bored of the game. You'll realise that although there are 40 full levels in the main mode, there are only 20 stages which are used multiple times.

There is also a lack of modes. Besides the main game, there is a lacklustre challenge mode that presents players tasks such as jumping on exploding barrels to set a longest jump. There are only five challenges to tackle, and they're all short and forgettable.

Finally, the grungy visual style is fine but lacks personality. Flaws like these show that, while Urban Trial Freestyle is a decent addition to the PlayStation games library, the game struggles to match who they're trying to imitate in pretty much every department.


> Visit the 'Urban Trial Freestyle' official website



Highborn

Developer: Jet Set Games
Platforms: PC (Steam)
Price: £6.99 / $9.99

Originally released on iOS a couple of years ago, Highborn now sees a PC release on Steam. It's an enjoyable fantasy strategy game, mechanically not unlike the Advance Wars series if you boil it down to basics.

You trade turns with your opponents, moving your units, capturing structures and attempting to overpower the enemy. When you attack an opponent's unit, stats such as hit points and terrain bonuses are taken into account as the game calculates the damage dished out by both sides.

Highborn tries to mix things up a little in an attempt to distinguish itself from other titles in the genre. Units can unleash powers, some of which can be earned by activating monoliths. Some powers are offensive in nature - for example, a meteor strike - while others buff the party.

'Highborn' screenshot


And although your team grows in number when capturing structures, who you recruit depends on the type of building you secure. Take over a tower and you'll be rewarded with a new mad wizard on your side, while monasteries give you monks. Should the new unit bite it, they will respawn at the structure within a couple of turns.

Whether its quirks are enough to make Highborn more than your average strategy title is debatable, but either way, it's still a fair amount of fun. Every level begins with the odds seemingly against you, but despite its occasionally plodding pace, it feels rewarding making your way through the map and methodically taking out one enemy unit at a time until the route is complete.

That said, those looking for something deep and involving may come away wanting a little more.

This isn't surprising given its mobile roots - and even less so when you consider the extremely hit-or-miss goofy humour - but on the other hand, it also means that Highborn is pretty accessible to those usually shy around strategy games.


> Buy 'Highborn' from the Steam store




Binary Boy

Developer: Data-Fidelity
Platforms: Browser-based
Price: Free

Binary Boy is a gravity-flipping platformer that's mostly enjoyable while it lasts.

Developed by Jared Johnson (also known as Data-Fidelity) on GameMaker, the free browser-based game is worth experiencing if only for the inventiveness of the way the core mechanic is used. Players must flip above and below ground to avoid obstacles and even triumph in boss fights.

'Binary Boy' screenshot


The game can be easily completed in one sitting - a first playthrough might take around 20-25 minutes, and comes with a generous checkpoint system that nearly always respawns you before the obstacle that killed you.

However, there are moments when Binary Boy will probably make you curse out loud. Bosses are interesting, but are the cause of much frustration later on when the one-hit deaths respawn you back to the beginning of the fight.

It's an impressive game overall, though, and should be praised for trying something new.


> Play 'Binary Boy' for free



What downloadable releases have you been playing recently? Add a comment in the space below!

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