Platforms PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Developer/Publisher Milestone s.r.l
Genre Racer Platform Played PlayStation 4
I’ve always enjoyed the experience racing games can provide, the intense connection between the player and their vehicle is something no other genre is able to recreate. With that being said, over the years the emphasis on four wheeled racers has certainly become the norm, with those seeking a well-polished two wheel racing experience left out in the cold. Though some racers have included motorbikes within their roster, there hasn’t been a strong motorcycle central racer in quite a while.
Milestone hoped to change that with Ride, ditching four wheeled vehicles entirely and focusing on creating a racing game for motorcycle enthusiasts. For the most part Ride succeeds in showcasing an obsession with creating a sublime love letter to motorcycle racers, but it never feels like the game goes the extra mile to blow us away. Instead the finer qualities of Ride get lost within a bevy of technical issues and lack of features, which leave it forming an audible whimper rather than an impressive roar.
Before reaching the track players will create their own rider, which has become the standard fare with most racing games. Ride allows you, the player, to completely fine tune your turning stance with extreme detail, as well as the celebrations your racer will conduct upon a hard fought victory. The customisation options continue to impress with the ability to use earned in-game credits to purchase new rider outfit options. These customisation options are some of the stand out features in Ride.
The customisation options don’t end with your rider; each of the one hundred plus motorcycles on offer can also be customised. These options include visual differences similar to the rider options, with almost every visual aspect of your bike able to be altered, but it also goes deeper. Each bike can be upgraded to become an overpowered behemoth with in-game credits, with the ability to upgrade the engine, suspension, brakes and more to create the perfect two wheeled machine. Though some new racers may feel overwhelmed by the options I have explained, Ride makes these options easy for anyone to enjoy. If you have no clue which suspension is best for your bike, Ride will let you know which is best with simple green arrows, similar to comparing loot in a plethora of RPG titles. It makes the customisation options in-depth and accessible for all players at the same time.
When you’re on the track Ride provides some exhilarating moments, with responsive controls for each motorcycle. There are also slight variations between each ride, especially between the base model and one which has been fully modified. These variations can be felt immediately after upgrading your motorcycle. Ride’s gameplay sits on a thin line between simulation and arcade, leaning slightly towards the simulation route. Ride offers players a tutorial from the beginning of the game, allowing a player of any skill level the ability to figure out which difficulty level is for them. If you want a more realistic experience then the option is there, but if you want to instead play Ride more towards the arcade model without worrying about the finer points of racing you also have that option.
Ride also implements the Rewind feature which has become a basic aspect in most racing titles, but it doesn’t feel as smooth as the latter. Rewind allows players to stop the game and Rewind a certain amount of time, which is perfect for fixing simple mistakes. The Rewind feature never worked instantaneously as I had expected, instead I found myself rapidly tapping the button in order for the feature to implement. There is also a timer between Rewind attempts which is never shown, this decision coupled with the unresponsive aspects of the feature, created more frustration than a helpful option should be providing.
The main problems I encountered throughout my racing time with Ride are the notable visual and audio imperfections. Visually, Ride looks like a high end last generation game with a high gloss finish, which is easily noticeable when the action slows down. Tracks look decent but they lack a certain detail that many racing titles have perfected over the years, which is particularly disappointing when playing on a current generation system. Racing titles are some of the most beautiful games available, but Ride doesn’t come close to reaching any of the current generation racers on visual quality, and in some regards some last generation experiences put Ride to shame. I was also saddened that there never seemed to be any weather alterations throughout my time with Ride, with racing always taking place in perfect conditions; some weather variety would have certainly added a new element to consider.
The lack of quality is also showcased in the audio department. Not only do motorcycles seem to lack that imposing roar that sends shivers down a racing enthusiasts spine, but also lacks in the music department. The accompanying audio tracks in Ride are the definition of generic, each sounds eerily similar to the last and it never does a great job at adding intensity to the racing, which titles like GRID and Need for Speed have perfected over the years. There are also zero commentary options. The lack of commentators or even any word from the pit crew themselves feels weird and provides a lonely feeling when on the track. This is overly noticeable during the main gameplay mode of World Tour, which despite trying to provide an intense rivalry between fellow racers, instead feels like an empty and lonely collection of singular events.
World Tour is where you will spend most of you time. The mode contains multiple categories which contain singular events, ranging from a single race, drag races, and team races. Winning races will earn you more in-game credits and also see your created character rise through the World Rankings. The World Rankings revolves around your reputation numbers which is always increasing; rising past certain levels in the rankings will see new events unlock which offer new motorcycles when won. The problem with the World Rankings system is that it further emphasises the empty feeling that I experienced on the track. Unlike most racing games which focus on your created character moving through the ranks to become a part of the number one racing team, all Ride provides is a simple ladder. There is no sense of accomplishment when rising through this list of unknown riders, there is no sense of rivalry between anyone on the board, and it simply provided an empty reason for me to reach number one. It’s disappointing that Milestone didn’t go that extra mile to make World Tour mode a cohesive and enjoyable experience; instead the barebones features stand out when compared to the excellent career modes that have become standard in the genre.
Adding insult to injury my experience with Ride’s World Tour mode was cut short due to data corruption. This mode breaking bug is a widespread issue throughout the Ride community, with players from all platforms experiencing variations on the data corruption. For me, I found myself unable to even enter World Tour mode, but from what I’ve read online some have lost their entire collection of motorcycles and in-game currency. There is no defined reason why this data corruption occurs, but it seems to be effected by your World Ranking. I have no idea how a huge game breaking issue such as this made its way into the final product, but it’s unacceptable when a game becomes almost unplayable after a few days. Though a patch could easily fix this problem, it’s unfair for players to purchase a full priced release only to have their experience crippled when main features become inaccessible. Needless to say Ride should be a tentative purchase for those wanting to sink countless hours into World Tour Mode.
Alongside my game breaking issues, Ride also contains lengthy loading times which easily reach the two minute mark before each race. There is actually an instance in-between loading times where the player can press a button to initiate the next loading screen; and yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds.
Players can also take Ride online or locally with split screen options. Ride’s online suite works fine, with almost zero latency experienced while racing online. The main issue is the long wait times experienced when trying to find a race online. If you have a group of friends who are also playing Ride you will have a great experience, but players seeking other players online can easily be waiting hours for enough players to begin a match. The local options are also sub-par at best, with the split screen capabilities suffering from large frame rate issues. Though it isn’t unplayable, the experience didn’t offer something I’d recommend for those wanting to race with friends locally.
Ride definitely understands what motorcycle enthusiasts want from a two wheeled racer, it’s showcased throughout the detailed customisation options, the range of motorcycle options and the gameplay options for hardcore riders. The problem is the overall product feels rushed and unpolished.
World Tour mode is Ride’s main bounty for players to sink their teeth into, but the entire experience is an empty shell compared to what most racing fans have come to expect from career modes. Coupled with the unforgivable mode breaking bug and severe load times there are too many problems here to recommend Ride for any racing fan, let alone a motorcycle enthusiast.
Ride feels like a missed opportunity, one that had the heart to provide a quality experience, but failed to go that extra mile to produce a fine-tuned product.
Accessible for rookies, but in-depth enough for veterans.
Poor audio and zero commentary options provide a lonely experience.
Data corruption glitch.
Lengthy load times.