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Leap of Faith- Free Running Review

If you’ve seen the YouTube videos which demonstrate the dazzling  athleticism of Le Parkour professionals, then you’d likely understand the draw of the sport. Watching experts sinuously  traverse an urban environment , as they repeatedly bound between two adjacent columns, or  leap precariously across chasms can be mesmerizing. While titles as diverse as Ninja Gaiden, Prince of Persia, and Mirror’s Edge have each incorporated some of Parkour’s foundational movements into their game worlds, each of these diversions has failed to capture the autonomy and creativity associated with the pastime.

With Free Running, Oxford-based developer Rebellion has made a commendable attempt at recreating l’art du déplacement, (French for “the art of movement”) by removing much of the rigid trappings associated with gaming. Most of the title’s challenge stems from discovering new ways to traverse each environment, rather that confrontation offered by disposable antagonists. As such, Free Running isn’t far removed from the liberty offered by the Skate or Tony Hawk franchises, as players scour the landscape in search of score-soaring combo opportunities. The laissez faire approach has one downside- those expecting a narrative impetus will be disappointed in Free Running‘s storyline. Beyond becoming the superlative Traceur (“Runner”), the game lacks an dramatic tension.

To circumnavigate each of the game’s ten location, players may use a Wiimote and Nunchuck combination or the Classic Controller. Smartly, Rebellion kept waggle to a minimum, using broad changes in elevation to initiate a secondary functions- such as a 180 degree turn or break fall. To excel in environmental  navigation, players will have to perfect their timing. Although Free Running doesn’t require meticulous joystick twirling to move from open place to another, precise button presses are essential. Each trick, grab, and landing necessitates a timely push to maintain, lest players lose their ‘flow’ or worse, decrease their vitality.

To maintain interest, Free Running presents a wide variety of single and split-screen two player modes. Free Race boils Parkour down to its essentials, requiring participants to get to a predetermined finish line in the quickest time possible. Flow Challenges favor maintaining a uninterrupted run than individual stunts, as player concentrate on maintaining combos. Ground Zero trials task players with staying aerial during an elevated run. By far, the most interesting mode is the Crash Test, which compels gamers with creating the worst injury-inducing wipeout. This variant is the only instance where Free Running completely shirks reality, often littering the playfield with TNT powerups, creating a compelling diversion that is not unlike the PS3 diversion, Pain.

Visually the title’s textures and polygon count are competent, though far beyond the benchmark set by first-party Nintendo titles. Characters are decently drawn, and are customizable with the game’s set of unlockable garments. While the Free Running‘s locations offer diversity, which venues such as a dock, warehouse, gym, and mill, they feel slightly diminutive and lack the sweeping dimensions common to many urban recreations. The title’s soundtracks channels an proper Euro feel with breakbeat and jazzy tunes to complement tic-tacs and wall-runs; too bad there isn’t more of it.

Gamers seeking for an earnest interpretation of Parkour, should find some gratification in Free Running. After a brief adaption period to acclimate to the title’s picky timing, there’s a semi-satisfying variety of settings which entreat exploration. As long as gamers aren’t expecting immediate thrills from Free Running, and can commit to the game’s solid learning curve, they might want to seek out the title. For players that have ever yearned for the Prince of Persia to have a free-form playground filled with ledges, rails, and ramps- a sprint down to their local retailer might be in order.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

39 comments

  1. Wasn’t this a PSP or PS2 game?

  2. Intelligent Zombie

    Never heard of this one, but I always love those David Belle vids.

  3. So If I liked (loved) Mirror’s Edge, would I like this?

  4. I remember hearing about this some time ago. Did it just come out?

  5. According to CD Universe

    http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?PID=8018783&style=games&frm=froogleother

    This isn’t due out until August. Wow, early review!!!

  6. Cheetos - God of Cheese

    $20 for a Parkour sim. I’m there. Glad there not a lot of wigglewaggle.

  7. Wow, that video is freaking amazing. I don’t know how that guy doesn’t break his leg.

  8. About to bite on this, despite the C grade. I have a problem.

  9. RidetheLightening

    Thanks for the review, Deagle.

  10. Ouch, those graphics look fugly.

  11. Looks kind of crappy. Too bad because I’ve taken some parkour lessons.

  12. Sounds like you know about PK, Desert. Color me surprised.

  13. You called PK a sport?!? Fail!

  14. Why would this make this into a game? I can go and jump around outside and save $20 thankumuch.

  15. I’m buying the skateboard comparison, and might have to try this.

  16. I’ll take a pass on this one. Doesn’t interest me at all.

  17. I’ll stick with my Mirror’s Edge. Thank you much!

  18. Good review. Just the right length without all the fat.

  19. Colonel Dion Sanders

    This might be fun. Wait and see, wait and see.

  20. Are you reviewing torrents? tsk, tsk, tsk! 😉

  21. Jessica SimpsonisHavingmyBaby

    I like to watch parkour but translating to a game seems real hard and it might not turn out to be that fun.

  22. so your the one who made her fat. Thanks, jerk 🙂

  23. Harry Potsmoker

    Nice review.

  24. I like the idea of a PK game, but I’m not so sure about this one.

  25. Nice review, Deagle.

  26. I follow games, and have never come across this one, at least for the Wii.

  27. Ultimato Rickman

    Player models look good. Backgrounds? Not so much.

  28. look at the guys arms in the bottom pic. hes running like he’s special.

  29. I won’t be taking the leap of faith on this one.

  30. Hmm, a PK game sound interesting.

  31. $19.99? I could take a chance on this one.

  32. I do wish it got a slightly better score, though.

  33. Cool review.

  34. I seriously doubt that.

  35. I came in expecting Assassin’s Creed, this is interesting too though!

  36. hmm, never heard of the game till reading this article. interesting, yet disappointed that it wasn’t up to expectations. Was hoping it would be a great addition to the sport.

  37. I haven’t been able to find this game anywhere!

  38. The entire concept of free running in a game is huge. Take Mirrors Edge for example, which was a really good game. Sure, there were limitations to how much Free Running you could do, but the concept of Free Running was still present.

    Assassins Creed is also a good Free Running game, although that isn’t the main point of the game.

    It would be nice to see a Free Running game that is similar to an anime called AirGear. Free Running competition game.