Racing simulation games have a huge amount of potential. Gamers constantly crave the realism that they bring and also their ability to let them drive powerful machines that are beyond their wildest dreams. In the simulation world they will be able to drive that Formula One car or purchase that heftily priced Zonda. It's something that has seen franchises like Gran Turismo and Forza take off, but there has never been an equivalent franchise when it comes to motorcycles. Tourist Trophy attempted it towards the end of the PlayStation 2's lifecycle, but it didn't catch on in the way that Polyphony had hoped. Now, with numerous motorcycle games under their belt, Milestone are hoping they can fill the void.
Having worked on numerous MotoGP and SBK X video games, it made sense that Milestone would attempt to branch out and create their own game. With Ride, they had that blank canvas. You can purchase and ride bikes from a range of manufacturers, and there are plenty of tracks for you to tackle while doing so. There are also numerous types of events and categorisations to keep things interesting. For example, not only does the game offer straight racing events, but there are also drag races and a couple of different challenges based on overtaking.
To start off with, you are given a bike for free and this will make you eligible for only a few categories. These, as is often the case with racing simulation games, are pretty simple and are there to help you learn the ropes before you move onto more substantial bikes, such as the pro circuit bikes. However, that won't take long.
In a strange move, almost everything within the game is pretty accessible without too much trouble. All races offer the same amount of prize money (aside from championships) and you can buy the most expensive bike in the game within an hour or so of playing. Only a couple are unlocked by an alternative criteria outside of money and it's a disappointing aspect of the game because it means there isn't a great deal to strive for.
Outside of just winning races and buying different bikes, the only real objective is to move up the rankings and gain periodic access to eight Elite racing events. These are meant to offer an extended challenge, but they are pretty much on par with everything else the game has to offer. It means there is no real challenge. Getting to the top of the world rankings also doesn't require you to even get gold in a majority of races "“ you can achieve it by only doing well in maybe half of the available races, or perhaps even less.
It means that the game does little to incentivise you to keep playing. There is no carrot that is there dangling to encourage you outside of the world rankings and the elite events, but even then the payoff is unrewarding. The most you will ever get is a free bike for winning Elite events, but you will have so much money the reward is pretty redundant because you can just buy them yourself.
On the plus side, the game works mechanically. It's one area that you hope Milestone would succeed given their experience and they deliver here. The bikes handle as you would expect and there's enough risk versus reward in the gameplay to push you a little bit further each time. It's also nice to try and deal with the nuances involved with managing the front and rear brakes, as well as the right degree of acceleration to ensure you come out of a corner firing and not flying across the turf on your backside.
Rider AI is also pretty decent. They are not afraid to go in for a little contact and do a good job of protecting the racing line. However, they can still be a bit too passive when it comes to cornering.
One of the worst aspects of the gameplay comes with its presentation and general performance. While the handling is decent, the visuals are not befitting of a game that has considerable hardware specs at its finger tips. The loading screens are also abysmal, something which is compounded by loading screens to load loading screens. It's not too uncommon to have to wait over a minute to get into a race and then 30-40 seconds on the other end. Given that the majority of races are three laps, it means that you can often spend maybe 5-6 minutes racing and have it sandwiched between nearly 2 minutes of loading screens. Again, given the hardware specifications available, it's pretty unforgiveable that such lengthy loading screens exist. The fact they are so prevalent in the game's menu system compounds the issue further.
Ride feels like a missed opportunity for Milestone. Given their experience with motorcycle games, you would have expected them to translate that into a successful simulation-styled game with ease, but the game is held back by numerous issues. There is no real semblance of progression and there are some severe issues on the technical side, namely with loading screens. Still, it's a decent bike game, but you may be better off waiting for the next MotoGP for your racing fix.
|Has a wide range of bikes, including electrical.|
|A good degree of rider customisation.|
|Loading screens are dire.|
|Too much is achieveable, too soon.|
|Progression is too easy.|