Milestone S.R.L/Bandai Namco Entertainment
Reviewed on: PS4
Also on: Xbox 360/One, Windows, PS3
Real-world motorcycles terrify me. I have enough anxiety piloting my dinky little car through traffic, let alone a roaring bike that offers no protection between the asphalt and my soft flesh. Thank god for video games, because this way I can enjoy all the ear-splitting roars of a motorcycle race without worrying about third-degree road burns on the side of my thighs. Ride is a sleek motorcycle racing game by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. The focus of the game is on the bikes, giving them intricate models with layer upon layer of detail, while the player character looks like a character from The Sims decided to put on a helmet and leather jacket. Background music gets drowned out by the roar from your bike’s engines. The loading screens even feature detailed fact sheets about whatever bike you’re currently riding. The package as a whole works, given the sheer depth of vehicle customization.
No two player’s bikes will end up the same after they’ve been through the garage. Every single part of your ride can be adjusted, from the air filter to the gear chain. Bikes and bike parts are purchased with credits earned from races, but even without a first-place finish, you’ll be able to earn what you need in order to spiff up your motorcycles.
Ride opens with a brief tutorial for those unfamiliar to the genre, though you can skip it if you like. It’s a very bare-bones overview of how to handle your bike in races, and introduces players to the three different physics sets you can use in game (Standard, Semi-pro, and Professional). These, coupled with the AI slider, function as the difficulty settings for the game. The depth of adjustment makes the game accessible for people of any skill level, letting players fine-tune their experience even to the level of braking automatically before turns and adjusting your leaning so your racer doesn’t end up flying off their bike in hilarious fashion (it took me a while to figure this one out, but man does it help). One of the coolest features is the rewind function. If your rider takes a spill, you can hold down a button to wind time back to the seconds before the crash, letting you adjust your speed and turn to keep you seated. It’s only usable in the single player races, obviously, and there are a limited number of times per race that you can rewind, but it’s an invaluable tool for early on when you’re learning the ropes.
There are a number of game modes for you to show off your bike. A number of races are available right from the start, while others require you to build your reputation up in order to unlock them. Environments aren’t particularly detailed but each track has its own character that you’ll have to get a feel for in order to place in first. There are also time trial modes and online play included, though the world races should keep any player occupied earning credits and reputation for quite a while. Whether or not you should purchase Ride depends on how much you like motorcycles. If you can name several models of Ducati or spot the difference between a Yamaha and a Triumph just on sight, then this is the game for you. You’ll have a blast collecting and tweaking all of the bikes in Ride. For those of you looking for a good racing game, Ride also fits the bill, though it doesn’t do anything particularly new for the genre. As for me, I’ll keep on racing at breakneck speed in the digital sphere and driving nervously at exactly the speed limit in real life.