RIDE’S solid gameplay overrides its performance flaws.
Back in June of 2014 when Milestone S.r.l. released MotoGP 2014, needless to say I wasn’t all too impressed. With poor visuals, lifeless environments, and an out of date method of PC gaming, whereby I was required to insert the actual disc every time I wished to play, even though it’s already been installed to the hard drive. I had a few gripes with the game that caused quite a conflict with the amount of enjoyment I received it.
While I’m not the biggest fan of simulation based racing and I did find some entertainment from the game, I’d rather opt for MotorStorm as opposed to something along the lines of Forza or Gran Turismo, so it’s fair to say I gave it a chance. My thoughts and taste on the genre hasn’t changed since it’s initial installation.
During the run up to the launch of Milestone S.r.l’s newest title, my attraction to the genre begun to kick-in. Shiny surfaces, reflective helmets, impeccable lighting, and depth-of-field to die for, screenshots can tell a thousand words. Enter Ride, following a similar formula to the MotoGP series, Ride is all about fast bikes, tight corners, tucking and leaning, and competing in world tournaments.
" Shiny surfaces, reflective helmets, impeccable lighting, and depth-of-field to die for, screenshots can tell a thousand words. "
Upon entering the game the player is required to create and kit-out their rider,which will become their avatar for entering tournaments and competing in events. While My initial thoughts to this to this section of game seemed utterly pointless since I’ll be spending a fair amount of time concentrating on the intensity of races, while my rider is dressed head-to-toe in racing gear, rendering her actual appearance completely invisible. I did find some value in this section of the game and strangely enough I managed to embody my rider. Congrats Milestone.
Given fairly bland choices to decide from consisting of nationality, hair colour, gender, facial features, and body size, with all the terribly poor iterations of RPG mechanics being shoved in to every game that doesn’t seem to make an ounce of sense, I felt quite relieved. The only issue I came across within the customisation system was the non-existent choice in skin colour, given the vast amount of nationalities to pick from.
I wasn’t sure if this was simply a glitch or the developers forgot. Heck, maybe they ran out of space on the 25GB+ BLU RAY DISC. After gearing up my rider and selecting between one of three starter bikes, the game presents the player to the main menu, whereby a friendly narrator explains each of the game’s modes as well as the rules and regulations.
The game carries a fairly simplistic nature to everything the player will come across. I found this pleasing and friendly to get on board with as it makes the barrier of entry to newcomers quite welcoming and enticing. Browsing through each of the menus, right off the bat it’s clear, the heart, soul, and meat of the game resides within it’s world tour events.
"The only issue I came across within the customisation system was the non-existent choice in skin colour, given the vast amount of nationalities to pick from."
While a Quick Mode is available for players to dabble within, consisting of Single Race, Time Attack, and Practice, as one would expect given the standards of what a quick mode entails, I seeked no interest whatsoever with what this section had to offer. My Rider, Dealership, Teammates, Customise Bike, Online, and Elite Trophies are the only topics of noteworthy discussion here, with World Ranking and Options finalizing the menu.
Taking part in the game’s World Tour events works on a simple formula, the more the player rides, the more credits they earn, which in-turn leads to more bikes being available for the player to purchase so that they may take part in other events, where specific models and types are positioned as the requirement of entry. Dividing the system further and doing so in a manner that remains simple and uncluttered, the knowledge and understanding of vehicles that would present quite a steep barrier of entry to similar franchises, are thrown out the window.
For instance, events that consist of “Naked Bikes Under 700cc” and “Naked Bikes Over 700cc”, doesn’t have the player browsing through a convoluted menu dealership system, resulting in players scrolling through a checklist of specifications. It’s simple, use the bike provided at the start of the game, earn credits, choose an event, and purchase a bike that’s provided by the menu that follows. This isn’t to say that the game fails to provide any real depth for the racing enthusiasts, it nails down what’s important and drops anything that doesn’t provide anything of significant value.
"It's simple, use the bike provided at the start of the game, earn credits, choose an event, and purchase a bike that's provided by the menu that follows."
Aside from the choices available within the Naked Bike events, almost every other class and group varying from Middleweight, Superbikes, Supersports and so on are there for the player to take part in so long as the player has the credit to afford the necessary bike.
Extending to races catered for the enthusiasts which delivers on historical bikes, International Events, Drag Racing, Track Day, and Championship, the breath of content available delivers something that’s quite deep, also quite pleasing that encourages the player to participate.
Before heading into a race, the choice to change the rider’s gear, purchase new bikes, and buy new parts are present as expected. While the rider gear section offers enough garments and equipment for the player to differentiate their avatar from other riders in the game as well as online competitors, vehicle modification is unfortunately quite limiting. While my appreciation for this was at an all time high, given my fairly limited knowledge on the effects of air filters, cylinder head porting, exhausts, transmissions and brakes.
I do sense some disappointment for the enthusiasts who desire something that’s more in-depth. Tuning the actual bike in terms of how it fits the player’s own style and preference of shifting gears, leaning, suspension adjustment and so on, is available to play with before entering the actual race. Along with these options players will also find settings relating to difficulty, riding assists, physics, and A.I.
"Before heading in to a race the choice to change rider gear, purchase new bikes, and buy new parts for the bike are present as expected. "
It’s best to think of this section as the garage for each of the player’s bikes which can be adjusted differently for various factors involving the turns, length, and surfaces of the various racing tracks. As previously stated my own preference to games of this genre, border a severe lack of interest and motivation for actually inserting the disc.
With that being said however, the functioning and feature set as provided by the game’s simple yet detailed menu encouraged me to press on. Further increasing my interest for the game after heading onto the track, I was surprised to learn how easily I had passed three hours in the game, and had no intention of turning off the system.
Fair to say I was convinced and I had no shame in speaking off the game to my peers, as well as watching playthroughs of the game by others. During my time on the track of the many events I took part in, I found the gameplay itself to be quite intuitive. The way in which the difficulty settings and bike assists function in reference to the player’s own level of skill, presents itself in a fairly tailorable manner, with different methods of adjusting the system that aids in both the encouragement of players wishing to become better, as well as aiding them in becoming familiar with the physics of handling the bike.
Being encouraged to play on and become better with my current bike while attempting to purchase different types and test the ropes with how they function, is something to appreciate. At no point whatsoever did I feel the need to place blame on the game when falling, crashing, or cutting the corners of a track incorrectly. I simply practised, became better, and reaped the rewards as indicated by the amount of credits, reputation points, and awards being given to me upon the completion of an event.
"Being encouraged to play on and become better with my current bike while attempting to purchase different types and test the ropes with how they function, is something to appreciate. "
Something which does well to accelerate this feeling of progression is the number of different locations and types of events to take part in, further eliminating a sense of boredom and lack of variety. Each new track and location that’s presented to the player feels new and refreshing to race on, even when replaying events.
How Milestone S.r.l. succeeded in swaying me over to this genre of racing games has proven to be something of magic. Gameplay is solid, customisation is pleasing, and there’s enough variety to keep the player entertained further extending to online play whereby players can compete and team up with one another, delivering a new experience with each mode of play.
While the game has a hefty number of positives in it’s favour proving to be an enjoyable and satisfying ride, with plenty of content from the get-go, the game does have it’s flaws, some of which should have been cleared up before its release. Preference of audio will forever remain personal preference, however, there’s something of critical importance that has to be said when the game’s menu music is far more appealing than what’s actually being played during actual gameplay.
"How Milestone S.r.l. succeeded in swaying me over to this genre of racing games has proven to be something of magic."
Reminiscent of a poorly-received 90s rock group, consisting of runaway teenagers under the denial of musical talent, in-game music is abysmal. Nothing of the game’s soundtrack was attracting nor did it place me in a mindset of wanting to get on a bike, and that says a lot for it’s terrific gameplay.
Playing on the Xbox One, Ride is by no means a bad-looking game, the problem however is that it’s only good-looking so long as you keep your eyes peeled on what’s in front of you, and don’t look off in to the distance. Almost everything outside of the game’s actual tracks appear to be lifeless, crowd density is lacking, trees and vegetation are static, buildings and architecture mimic cardboards cut-outs, and texture filtering is limited to the four-feet of ground that’s in front of the rider.
The game does make some decent use of lighting and reflections when looking towards the rider’s helmets and the body work of vehicles, textures are fairly acceptable. Outside of the immediate view of the player’s rider, the bike and the surrounding geometry, Ride lacks visual flare.
"Outside of the immediate view of the player's rider, the bike and the surrounding geometry, Ride lacks visual flare./span>
Ride is about as visually on par with Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, way back from 2007. With instances of frame rate juddering and a few minor texture pop-ins, there are a few performance issues with the game.
The biggest problem however is in the game’s loading times. Having to witness a loading screen for every single menu change with autosaves for no apparent reason is something of a curse. Loading screens attempt to appease the player in providing reading content based on the engineering and history of the bikes and it’s culture, but in reality, it’s a nuisance.
Outside of the game’s few minor problems, something of which can easily be fixed with a patch, as most games are now subject to, Ride is a phenomenal racing experience that’s well worth the time. It’s fast, entertaining, and rewarding, something of which I intend to put more time in to as I look forward to the titles that Milestone releases in the future.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.
Excellent gameplay and enough content that's both satisfying and rewarding.
Dated visuals and performance problems.
Ride is a game that provides truly excellent gameplay that's both solid and rewarding. A few minor annoyances hold the game back, none of which break the factors of enjoyment and immersion.