If you’ve played any motorcycle racing game during the past generation, the chances are that it was brought to you by Italian developer Milestone. With a back catalogue that includes MotoGP
, and MXGP
, it shouldn't have surprised many when they announced
in the fall of last year that their first proprietary IP, RIDE
, would be a motorcycle racing simulator, promising over 100 bikes and a greater variety of tracks on which you can race. Aimed at both gamers and motorcycle enthusiasts, the game's goal is to be the two-wheeled version of Forza Motorsport
or Gran Turismo
, but does it have enough gas in the tank to keep the pace with the best that the racing genre has to offer?
Without the shackles of specific classes of bikes, it’s clear from the offset what Milestone intended to achieve with RIDE
. With influences clearly taken from both Forza
and Gran Turismo
, it's a love letter to motorcycles. Whilst they clearly share the same enthusiasm that Turn 10 and Polyphony Digital do for their art, they, unfortunately, don’t have the same budget available to pull it off; the result is a Jekyll and Hyde game that at times will amaze you and at others disappoint.
The main game mode on offer in RIDE
is the World Tour, a leaderboard that will see you join as a newcomer in 301st position with the aim being to work your way up to the top. To do that you enter events that are broken down into categories based on the class of the bike, the size of the engine, age, manufacturer, and so on. Each event consists of a number of races, time trials, mini championships, overtaking challenges, endurance races, and drag races in which you can compete. The higher that you place in each race, the more rep that you earn to push you up the leaderboard and the more money that you earn to purchase new bikes or upgrades. Purchasing a new bike will allow you to enter different events. With over 100 bikes from which to choose, you can switch between the large number of events available from race to race to keep things fresh throughout.
Can you make it to the number one position in the World Tour?
Like many games of this type, the first few races may be difficult as the bike with which you begin is woefully inadequate. You’ll be powerless to stop quicker bikes easily overtaking you on straights and it will feel like you are trying to manoeuvre a bus around bends rather than a nimble motorcycle. After a couple of races, and with money in your pocket, you will be able to start adding upgrades to your bike. All of the bikes except the top level super bikes can be upgraded with engines, gears, suspension, breaks, and tyres. All of these provide you with an advantage, but then the game goes even further with small parts such as brake cables, chains, and even the oil that is used all giving slight performance increases. Once a bike is fully upgraded it feels like each victory is cheap. You don’t really need skill any longer, especially with more assists turned on; you’ll find that you’ll be in the lead by the end of the first corner and remain there until the finish.
Like the bikes, your in-game avatar can be customised with new colours and styles of clothing from many of motorcycling’s biggest brands. There’s even the rather pointless and very poorly executed option to change your rider's face and hair style. Milestone didn’t stop there, however, and the attention to detail at this point is pretty astounding with the options also available to alter the angle of your rider's elbow to the positioning of his head when cornering.
Customising your rider - Face and Hair optional
Before you get to race you will have to put up with the overly long loading times. Each time that you choose an event and confirm the bike with which you want to race, you’ll be stuck in a 60 second loading screen, which then cuts to another loading screen showing an image of the bike. After another 20 seconds the game will ask you to press A to confirm (what you are confirming isn't shown), only for you to go back to the same screen again for another 20 seconds before you finally get to the track. After the race is over you will have to endure another minute of loading screens before finally getting back to the menu to repeat the process. These interminable waits make it impossible for you to have a quick race if you only have a short amount of time as you will spend longer in loading screens when you boot up the game than you will on the track.
Finally ready to race
When you do eventually get on to the track, RIDE
’s Jekyll and Hyde nature really shows through. Each of the game’s 114 bikes have been lovingly created and the attention to detail and graphical appearance is immaculate. Whilst there’s not the massive difference in sound and overall feel in handling that you get when switching between cars in Forza
, they are there. Unfortunately, the tracks don’t have the same detail applied to them and, whilst there is a nice variety in location, they seem hollow and empty and have some extremely dated textures and identical features.
When racing the game seems to stutter along with frame rate drops on some occasions. There’s also not a real sense of any great speed. The AI riders are quite simplistic in their style, never really moving from the optimal racing line or showing any great need to overtake you or other opponents.
114 lovingly created motorcycles from which to choose.
The controls are much more sensitive than your typical car game as you’ll need to factor in weight distribution, front and rear brakes, and the right amount of throttle to apply when entering a turn. Forget to lean back when you slow down suddenly and you’ll see the back wheel of the bike raise in the air -- you’ll be powerless to stop it as you fly off the track at speed. Apply too much throttle on a straight and you’ll be pulling a wheelie. Whilst at times it can be infuriating, it’s also genuinely rewarding when you master it.
If you feel less adventurous there are a number of difficulty options and assists that can be tweaked, such as binding both brakes to a single pull of the left trigger to make the handling similar to other racing games, and the anti-wheelie assist that means that you can give it full throttle without taking off.
Like most racers these days, the game also comes with a rewind feature; however, you are limited to a maximum of nine per race. The majority of the time it works exactly how you’d expect it to do so. At other times it will totally ignore you or it will rewind you just far enough so that you can’t help but repeat the same mistake again. It could also put you at a point where an AI controlled bike decides to smash into you and knock you off your bike.
Mastering how to corner is genuinely rewarding.
Outside of the World Tour, RIDE
offers a quick race option (complete with long loading times) that can be played in local splitscreen co-op with a second person. There’s also an online option that allows you to select from a four race championship or a single race. Unfortunately, you can’t create a lobby yourself and wait for other people to join; with the online already seeming very quiet you can spend a long time searching before getting matched up. Thankfully, once you do take to the saddle the races seem to run smoothly with no noticeable lag.
The game’s achievement list is quite lazy with quite a few thrown at you for simply accessing different features of the game. Providing that you can keep your bike on the track you’ll quickly earn the majority of them on your way to reaching the top of the World Tour leaderboard
. A large number of achievements are tied to buying bikes from specific manufacturers and increasing the number that you own, the last one coming when you own 50 bikes
, which may require you to play some additional races to earn enough money. The only achievement that may be of concern to some people is Half you, half me
that requires you to play in splitscreen, but if you have two controllers the game is a very easy and relatively short 15 hour completion.
It’s clear to see that Milestone has set out with the best intentions in a genre that they clearly love. However, RIDE
is adequate in most areas but doesn't have the same amount of polish and set of features that are found in other leading racing games. With a lack of online leaderboards to provide any challenge among friends, once you hit the number one spot in the World Tour, only the hardcore racing fans will find any reason to return to the game. The game features a large choice of stunningly recreated motorcycles to purchase and upgrade and there’s enough here to keep hardcore racing fans and motorcycle enthusiasts attention for a while; ultimately, though, if you aren't a fan of the genre then RIDE
will do very little to persuade you otherwise.
- Large selection of motorcycles to race with
- In-depth upgrades for each motorcycle
- Overly long loading times
- Dated textures on tracks
The reviewer spent approx. 15 hours racing through the games various game modes, and earned all 50 of the game's achievements. This Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the developer for the purpose of review.