Bikers get a seriously rough deal for video gaming thrills. The late 80s and 90s teased us all into getting bikes when we grew up with classics like Road Rash and Super Hang On and then the genre just up and died. Sure there have been Moto GP titles and a smattering of MX titles, but the genre’s glory days have long gone. And booting people on Vespas into oncoming traffic is generally frowned upon in real life.
The last decent pair of wheels seen on PlayStation was the free bikes DLC in Burnout: Paradise. With Road Rash seemingly presumably dead in a desert ditch somewhere, we’ve had to look elsewhere for two-wheeled fun. Milestone (of recent WRC and Moto GP fame) are taking another swing at the sim-side of the genre, something akin to Riding Spirits. We’re not quite ready to call this the Gran Turismo of bikes either though.
Sure there are courses spread over real tracks and fictional road-based events. But the variety of bikes or race disciplines on offer doesn’t vary enough to warrant a fair comparison. A Gran Turismo of bikes would need to also include dirtbikes, speedway and the multi-surface Supermoto (Supermoto would make for a great game).
That said, the game is packed with tracks, events and some incredibly gorgeous bikes. All the big manufacturers are included, with the game starting you off with lighter naked bikes and easing you through a grand showroom of rides throughout the career, building you -and your skills- up over time before unleashing you on the suicidal superbikes.
Personally, the entry level bikes don’t quite go far down the food chain enough. So if you’re hoping to see the likes of Bandits or SV650s, you’re going to be disappointed. The Triumph Speed Triple is hardly a shabby start though. Well, until I bought a Ducati Streetfighter and never looked back.
I’d recommend taking part in the brief tutorial, which lets you test out the different handling models from standard to pro. You can also tweak the braking options to include independent front and rear braking or just have both assigned to L2. Independent use does allow for a greater degree of control, and using the rear brake to tuck in the rear wheel on under-steered corners is very useful. But you might be better starting with the all-in-one button and get used to the handling before opting for the realistic braking features.
Different traction control options are available, and on the pro settings you’ll have to watch how hard you accelerate out of corners if you don’t want the back wheel to betray you and chuck you from the saddle. Thankfully the R2 trigger features enough ‘squeeze’ to make this work well, allowing for a fantastic degree of choice when accelerating.
Steering itself is quite twitchy when adjusting for corners, but that’s more of an issue with the analogue sticks rather than the game itself. However, I found that using some stick extensions, like those favoured by some FPS players, allowed for much more subtle movements and a better position for the thumb to make more minute adjustments for much smoother lines on corners.
I’m a big fan of on-screen racing lines and Ride’s is massively helpful in indicating when you need to slow down and is a great way of learning the tracks. It’s entirely optional, but this and the other driving aids can take the edge off what is usually a daunting prospect. Although, we’d advise turning off basics like braking assistance as you’re not left with much challenge with that turned on.
And don’t forget, you don’t have to stick to the racing line’s suggestion. In fact, I’d advise going rogue, especially for overtaking and you can usually afford to brake later than it says too. Just be brave! You can afford to screw up too thanks to the rewind system that lets you take another shot at botched corners. Be sure to get it right second time though, as there’s a cooldown on rewinds that means you won’t generally be able to try a third approach. Cornering can be a tad inconsistent at times with regards to being able to steer at the same time as braking, which would be all the more frustrating were it not for the rewinds.
AI racers aren’t particularly smart, but they can be freakishly fast on straights in a manner that feels a little cheaty when you know their bikes aren’t capable of doing one into the horizon like that -this is usually the game’s way of asking you to upgrade your bike. You might want to up the AI’s difficulty a bit too as once you start spending credits on upgraded parts, the AI won’t stand a chance at lower levels.
The World Tour is your main career mode and it eases you in gently to the world of Ride. Giving you a free naked bike to begin with rather than a full-on all-snarling sports bike, you’ll find yourself racing against similar-spec bikes and the cash credits soon start to flow as you climb the ranks. Upgrades are very cheap, and it doesn’t take long to max out a bike’s stats and you can feel the difference after spending the cash too. You’re rarely given free bikes, but you can test ride them in free play modes.
Events take place on a few familiar pro tracks, but the road circuits are the main appeal here and they’re a lot of fun as they take you around the world for a dangerous blend of road events. You’re generally competing in races, but there are time trials, team events and more. Like the head-to-head event where it replicates dynamic street races by you getting overtaken by some joker and you having to get past him again in the quickest time possible. Or there are circuit days where you must overtake as many casual riders as possible in a few minutes. There’s even a drag mode across the salt flats where you’ll time manual gear challenges.
There are dozens and dozens of events, making for a lengthy career mode and the bikes on offer encourage you to try a rich variety of rides and then pour credits into making them twice as lethal as their already feisty factory model versions.
If there’s one thing seriously letting the game down, it’s the incredibly long loading times. You even have to push X in the middle of them to make them load the second part. Loading screens with loading screens. Not cool. Still they’re not as bad as Destiny’s.
- Loads of fantastic-looking bikes
- Riding models to suit all
- Road tracks make for a nice change
- Horrible loading times
- Standard analogues can struggle with precise movements
- You can’t kick or punch (I miss Road Rash)
The Short Version: Ride is one of the best bike racing games in years and is much more appealing than the dry offerings of Moto GP or SBK. The bikes are fantastically detailed and there are enough handling options to appeal to any race fan. Moving most events to new road circuits was a great idea too for those of you bored with the Moto GP calendar.
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed) | PS3 | Xbox 360 | Xbox One | PC
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