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Urban Trial Freestyle preview: PS3, Vita platformer takes on Trials

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Urban Trial Freestyle screenshot on PlayStation Vita / PS3

© Tate Multimedia


Urban Trial Freestyle is, as the screenshots and trailer below suggest, unashamedly similar to Xbox Live Arcade success story Trials, a side-scrolling physics platformer that requires precision as you ride through gritty, dynamic stages.

This, however, is a good thing. Developer Tate Multimedia appears to have done a great job at offering a comparable experience thanks to its weighty controls, where a nudge of the analogue stick can mean the difference between a perfect landing or going over the handlebars.

It also offers a very similar momentum, too, where jumps naturally flow into ramps, and challenging moments of battling steeper inclines. And if you mess up, you can tap a button and respawn instantly at the last checkpoint.

Urban Trial Freestyle screenshot on PlayStation Vita / PS3

© Tate Multimedia



Stunt stages pit you against your friends

What Urban Trial Freestyle attempts to do different is the types of levels it throws at you. One type is the traditional Time Trial, where fewer mistakes and faster runs earn more stars for unlocking further stages.

But for every Time Trial there's a stunt stage, which breaks up each level into multiple smaller challenges that test you in different ways. One jump will track how high you can get vertically, another will record your top speed within a small stretch of track, and another will record how many times you can flip.

Each of these have their own leaderboard that flashes up as soon as the micro-challenge is finished, instantly displaying a position against your friends, and the beaming mug of whoever's in top place.

Urban Trial Freestyle screenshot on PlayStation Vita / PS3

© Tate Multimedia



Earning money to unlock new costumes

Like Trials, dynamic stages have their fair share of hidden routes, which often hide money bags for the taking.

This cash pool is used to buy new components for your bike, from engines to cassis and wheels, all of which adjust your stats, as well as cosmetic changes to your rider, such as new helmets, gloves and trousers.

So as well as replaying stages to get more stars, there looks to be an incentive to go back and find more cash to boost your stats and better your scores.

Urban Trial Freestyle screenshot on PlayStation Vita / PS3

© Tate Multimedia



Challenges flip your world upside down

Each completed world opens up a new optional bonus stage that bends the rules for extra challenges and a spot of replay value. Again, this style of added content is similar to Trials, but is a welcome move to add some replayability and competition with friends.

One sees you land on explosives to launch you as far as you can across the stage.

Another has you shift gravity using the Vita (or SixAxis controller) by rotating it in your hands, forcing you to play on its side and eventually upside down as you scale vertical walls and ceilings. It's a very challenging and neat idea.


Coming to both PS3 and Vita

A selling point for Urban Trial Freestyle that shouldn't be understated are the release platforms. It's coming to PS3 and Vita, systems which the Trials series has yet to grace.

Despite the tradition of PS3 and Vita releases sharing content, this isn't a Cross-Play title.

While the same levels will appear on both platforms, changes to certain stunts (because of Vita limitations, we're told) will require two different sets of leaderboards.

Urban Trial Freestyle screenshot on PlayStation Vita / PS3

© Tate Multimedia



Is Urban Trial Freestyle a serious Trials competitor?

Playing through a handful of levels across multiple difficulty stages in the campaign shows that levels aren't nearly as sadistic as Trials, where each one can be comfortably finished without too many errors.

Urban Trial Freestyle is good fun, and it appears to offer solid controls and that crucial 'one-more-go' factor, but the real lure of the Trials series is its challenge, which could arise here in the form of unlocking five stars in each stage, which often requires a flawless run.

How strict the campaign will be in letting players progress with a limited number of stars could ultimately prove how challenging - and enjoyable - the game will be, and whether it can compete with the likes of Trials.

Urban Trial Freestyle will be available on PlayStation and Vita this spring.

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