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Urban Trial Freestyle 2 review - A stunt racer that muddies the issue

For: 3DS
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Spinning its wheels

Product: Urban Trial Freestyle 2 | Publisher: Tate Multimedia | Format: 3DS | Genre: Racing, Sports | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Urban Trial Freestyle 2 3DS, thumbnail 1
Urban Trial Freestyle 2 sounds like the kind of generic name you'd come up with to glibly describe a certain type of game, like Gritty Space Marine Shooter 3 or Cutesy Mascot Platformer 5.

Perhaps inevitably, the game itself is entirely free of surprises.

Just like the first Urban Trial Freestyle, Tate Interactive's sequel is heavily inspired by RedLynx's Trials HD. It's a perfectly functional tribute, but nothing more.

Gravity of the situation

Urban Trial Freestyle 2 is all about guiding a motocross bike from left to right across a series of improbably stacked obstacle courses. You must wrestle with momentum, gravity, and balance in order to get to the finishing line as elegantly as possible.

It's possible to accelerate, brake, and even reverse your bike using the 3DS's fascia buttons, but the true key to the game's mastery lies with the analogue stick. Using this you can manipulate your rider's position on the bike, whether leaning forward onto the handlebars or sitting back like a cruising Hell's Angel.

In the air this will serve to rotate your bike, letting you line up clean landings and even perform flip-based stunts. On the ground it enables you to place your weight appropriately to negotiate sheer climbs, stomach-churning drops, and tricky undulations.

All this is being explained in the spirit of thoroughness, but let's face it - you know what the score is. We've all played this kind of game before.

Muddying the waters

Urban Trial Freestyle 2's implementation of its balance system isn't as nuanced as many of those other games you've played. A lot of the time you'll find yourself carelessly blasting through levels, with the game's overly forgiving balance system letting you recover a little too easily.

Conversely, the developer-provided levels themselves (there's also a level creator facility) are a little too full of cheap, impossible-to-spot traps and gimmicks - particularly as they get trickier. I understand this kind of game is all about repetition, but the best examples at least give you a chance of spotting and negotiating what's ahead. There's a sense of confusion and discombobulation to Urban Trial Freestyle 2's twistiest levels.

Perhaps that's to do with the game's muddy graphics, which tend to smudge background and foreground elements together at speed. Going at any pace also renders challenge markers impossible to read.

Restarting levels, meanwhile, takes a scarcely forgivable three button presses to achieve, with the 'X' button merely restoring you to the last checkpoint.

Urban Trial Freestyle 2 is yet another serviceable Trials HD-a-like, but while it's rarely less than fun, it also lacks the spark and clarity of the very best stunt racers out there.
Urban Trial Freestyle 2 review - A stunt racer that muddies the issue
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 11 April 2017
A competent stunt racer that's a little too nondescript and derivative for its own good
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