There’s not much in terms of competition when it comes to motorcycle games these days. Milestone has been around however, pumping out various MotoGP and Superbike games for years on various platforms. Games which were adequate to say the least. But they weren’t much more than that, feeling like annual releases where only the bare minimum effort was required each year. With a new console generation comes a new chance to really shine however. But Milestone’s newest two-wheeled franchise is once again a perfect example of mediocrity.
Credit where credit is due however, as Ride does show plenty of passion in certain areas. Each new racing class is narrated with the kind of flowery speech usually reserved for Ferraris and McLaren cars on Top Gear, with the kind of detail that any bike-lover would appreciate. It’s the kind of game where earning enough credits to upgrade your pocket rocket of choice with one extra horse under the hood is considered a milestone, as the technical options feature tons of customisations.
Even more, there are dozens upon dozens of bikes to choose from. From the big four of Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki to the Italian giant Ducati and the British legacy of Triumph, you’ll easily find your favourite brand. Mind you, don’t expect too many classic bikes, as only a handful exist amidst a massive selection of modern-day superbikes.
And truly, it can be a joy to tune your dream machine up (I personally favoured a classic Yamaha FZR 750 R) and let it loose, savouring a perfect corner and powering through onto a straight. And then it just gets downright boring.
Ride has all the tools necessary to be a killer current-gen franchise, but it doesn’t exactly make proper use of them. The clinical nature of the game plays it too safe at times, and bafflingly stupid the rest of the time. In-game AI doesn’t even bother to make an attempt to cut you off from passing, tuning can be woefully unbalanced at times and the entire atmosphere of the game feels duller than a corporate team-building exercise.
And none of this can be overlooked for the visuals or audio either. When you’re on your bike, it’s just you, the engine and a soundtrack that feels like it was ripped from the most derivative section of royalty-free music websites, a motley collection of cheap riffs and cheaper electronic beeps. There’s no roar of the crowd, you can barely hear your bike on the ground and the animations accompanying your rider feel stiff and decidedly last-gen.
The visuals themselves aren’t completely bad, but they once again emphasise the point of only the necessary amount of effort being thrown in, much like every other game that Milestone has ever made in the bike-racing category. The only real standout here are the bikes themselves, which boast the kind of beauty you’d expect from a PR-heavy sales pitch. They sparkle, they shine, they roar with the ferocity of a mid-life crisis and cost more than a young girlfriend on the side.
But the tracks, the riders and the worlds around them fail to match that level of detail. A sterile single-player experience which feels like it was lifted straight out of DriveClub has you earning points and respect as you climb your way up the leaderboards, levelling up in a quest to be the most pointless number one of all time.
Going online is yet another exercise in average, provided you can find a lobby populated with enough players who are willing to race you. But at least the net-code is stable and responsive here. I could go on, but the entire point here is that Ride feels more like a glorified tech demo than a finished game that’ll herald in a new era of knees to the tarmac high speed racing.
Last Updated: May 5, 2015