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Ride

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: Milestone
Release Date: Oct. 6, 2015 (US), March 27, 2015 (EU)

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.

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Xbox One Review - 'Ride'

by Brian Dumlao on Nov. 25, 2015 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Ride offers players the chance to ride over 100 bikes, in four different categories (Superbikes, Supersports, Naked, and Historical Bikes) and take them hurtling at full speed over a huge variety of city, country and historic circuits from the world of motorcycling.

Though Italian developer Milestone S.R.L. has done other games in the past, it's primarily recognized for racing games featuring rally cars and motorcycles. The latter is particularly prominent, as they've done titles like MotoGP, MXGP and Superbike World Championship, among others. All of those games were licensed to a specific racing organization. Ride is the developer's first opportunity at developing a motorcycle racing game that may feature licensed bikes but is otherwise unaffiliated. At the moment, the game shows potential but not much else.

From the beginning, Ride gives the impression that it wants to be the equivalent of a simulation racer for motorcycles instead of cars, something Polyphony Digital tried to do with Tourist Trophy on the PS2 many years ago. There's a large number of bikes here, with the usual suspects like Ducati, Kawasaki and Triumph represented. What you're going to find are the more contemporary models, and they're all in the racing superbike mold, so the chance to race around with classics isn't present. You have the ability to tweak the bikes in a number of areas, so gearheads will have fun in trying to make something that far surpasses stock bikes. There are a few developer-created tracks to round out the overall track count of 14, but there are also some real-world courses, like Donington and Road America, both with short and long variations. There's also a category system to the bikes, so you'll start off with the basic variety, but you can easily jump to the top-tier machines if you have the cash.


The game mechanics also show off how much it emulates car racing sims. You can display the ideal racing line to let you know when to slow down, mostly around sharp corners and such. Aside from manual and automatic transmission, you're given a choice of how detailed you want the physics system to be. Using the lowest setting means it controls almost like a car, but increasing the difficulty means being aware of the separate rear and front braking systems. Rider lean also comes into play, as you can get a little bit of a speed boost by leaning forward; the sharpness of your turns are also dependent on your body lean.

It should come as no surprise, then, that there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to racing bikes. Instead of fishtailing when you take a turn with the brakes applied too suddenly, you'll fly off your bike and watch the machine helplessly skid on the ground. The same applies when hitting a barrier or another racer, so there's a more heightened awareness of everything around you. It also means that crashes are more painful, since you'll waste loads of time watching biker and bike become separated when you do something wrong.

Unfortunately, the game physics suffer from being extremely sensitive. Unless you apply the most forgiving settings, you'll experience a crash by tapping on barriers or setting one tire on anything that isn't asphalt. Tapping on another rider also means you'll be sent flying. The game also isn't very good at providing you with feedback to let you know that you're leaning too far in one direction and may take a spill. This might not bother veteran bike riders but would certainly help novices.


Ride doesn't have too many modes. The single race mode is there, giving you full access to every track from the start, and there's an option to rent bikes you don't own in order to get a feel for them. It does come at the cost of not counting any rewards, so you can't just own one vehicle and get a maximum payout by renting more powerful machines.

What you do have is a World Ranking mode that starts you off in 301st place and has you working your way to first by taking on various courses and challenges across the different bike classes. Most of your challenges have you in a standard 12-person race with cash prizes and a rank promotion for those who reach the top three. However, there are some other things thrown in, like time trials, drag races, and challenges that have you trying to snag the lead from a rival racer and hold it until time expires.

The handling system is already tough enough for beginners, but the AI riders in this mode don't help matters. Despite the advancements in the opposition over the years, the opponents you face here adhere to the old code of following the line as strictly as possible without deviation. Get in their line, and they'll do everything to barrel through you and mess you up. This also means that they have no idea how to overtake you if you're leading the pack, creating situations where a massive pile-up occurs because no one knows how to run a clean race once a variable is added.


The other part that makes things tough actually has to do with the game's speed. Even in the opening races, your stock bike isn't fast enough to take on the competition. You might helplessly try to trade places with lower-placed riders, but you'll eventually succumb to last place much of the time, especially if you crash just once. With that being a normal occurrence in the first few races on the lowest class in the game, you're presented with the choice of changing out for a new bike before entering your first race in this mode or tweaking everything from the beginning to give yourself a fighting chance. Either way, both require loads of cash, forcing you to grind in solo races since that's the only way you can earn cash outside of the World Ranking mode.

Online play can be best described as problematic. For starters, the long delay between the European and North American releases means that the online population is going to be rather small, especially since bike racing is a bigger deal in Europe. If you find people playing, they'll most likely have higher class bikes and tons more experience, leaving you woefully behind almost all of the time. For the most part, the online performance is fine, but if players have bad connections, the game doesn't handle that gracefully. Sometimes, you'll see yourself chug along the track before the game catches up and speeds you along before going at a normal pace. Other times, you'll simply get kicked out of the race and automatically lose points. Unless you get friends together or gain confidence through offline races, don't expect to use much of the online functions.

The thing that probably hurts Ride the most are the load times. Every transition, from the initial boot to the mode selection and race selection, has rather long load times. Loading races also has a screen that doesn't seem to serve a purpose other than to confirm you really want to race, adding another long load screen before you can finally get anywhere. On average, you're looking at over 90 seconds of load screens, something that hasn't been seen since Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition on the original PSP. In that case, it could be argued that the game wasn't optimized with optical media in mind, but for this title, where hard drive installation is mandatory, such load times are a very large oversight. It's problematic when you spend more time staring at a loading screen than racing.


Depending on what you're viewing, the graphics are either very good or serviceable. The bikes are exquisitely detailed, something it has in common with the big racing sims like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo. There's an obvious love of the machines, which can be seen in how well they're crafted. The same cannot be said for the riders, whose limited creation tools and extra outfit pieces look rather generic. The tracks display minimal pop-in for faraway objects and low-resolution textures in some other areas. Truthfully, it looks like something that would be pretty impressive on the Xbox 360 but looks generic on the Xbox One. The frame rate is also bothersome, as it may top out around the 30s, but you can see it struggle once loads of riders are on-screen simultaneously. This adversely affects racing, since you won't be able to react accordingly and may hit a bike or barrier in the process.

Likewise, the audio wavers between good and bad, depending on what you're listening to. The roar of the bike engines is excellent and differs from machine to machine, but it is really the only thing you'll hear when you race. It's largely silent when you crash into barriers or have your bike skid on the ground, which takes away from the game's simulation feel. Even crowd noise comes with silence instead of cheering. Meanwhile, the music is terrible generic rock during races, and the menu music doesn't foster the grand feeling that the rest of the game tries to evoke.

Ride represents an attempt at continuing where Tourist Trophy left off two console generations ago. The focus on more sim-based motorcycle racing and the attention paid to the bikes is great for fans of two-wheeled vehicles. However, its technical issues really hinder the enjoyment, and what's left is further marred by other problems that would turn away any motorcycle game novices. For now, only die-hard motorcycle fans should give this a rental; everyone else should wait until a sequel can hopefully polish up these shortcomings.

Score: 5.5/10



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