RIDE: This is no Easy Rider

When a rival overtakes you as you’re zooming along atop a precision piece of two-wheeled engineering genius, it’s hard not to think of Road Rash.  As tempting as it would be to lash out with a well-placed length of chain, RIDE isn’t that kind of bike racer it has loftier ambitions. It wants to do for motorbikes what Gran Turismo did for cars and, in pure racing terms, it’s on track.

The game is the first original IP for developer Milestone since 2007 (remember Super PickUps for the Wii? No, thought not) and one born of the team’s desire to step out on their own. “We had great fun working on licensed games, but we wanted to move to something with more creative freedom and challenge,” game designer Andrea Basilio tells . “It’s important for us to create a game that is enjoyable for the sort of player that knows everything about bikes, how the physics work, but also give an enjoyable game for players that like bikes but aren’t hardcore into them.”

It’s certainly accessible for newcomers. Basic racing experience will see you through RIDE at its easiest press button, go fast, turn to not leave track. It even has an auto-braking option to help navigate those tricky corner things, and a racing line that’s pleasingly simple to follow. Newcomers are definitely well treated, the game slowly educating as to its nuances as players progress. At the hardcore end of the spectrum though, you’ll need to consider the weight and position of the rider and the impact that has on the physics of a motorbike roaring along at insane speeds.
RIDE exists for one bold, ambitious reason: to be the Gran Turismo of bike games, with all the simulation and customisation aspects that entails
Many of the demands of high-level play are communicated visually. You’ll see the rider react to the forces impacting them, requiring subtle changes to your race style to compensate. You’re also meant to be able to feel changes in track conditions relayed through the controller’s vibration. At least, that’s the idea while playing, we didn’t experience any shifts in weather or anything else that might alter the track that changed the physical feedback.

It’s nice to see the resurgence of split-screen local multiplayer across the gaming medium continue, with RIDE offering the feature in its offline modes. It packs in all the expected race types quick races, time trials, drag races, track days, one-on-one battles, and endurance tests accompanying a lengthy World Tour career for solo players. Online, you can look forward to single races or multi-track seasons, for up to 12 players.

Aesthetically, RIDE is phenomenal. Locations and tracks 15 in total, including Magny-Cours in France, Motegi in Japan, Sierra Nevada in the US, and Milestone’s native Milano are all topologically mapped for accuracy, and the lighting and texturing border on the photorealistic. The bikes themselves offer plenty of variety, with a total of 14 manufacturers included in the game and over 114 playable motorcycles. The only absences are Harley Davidson and Norton, whose bikes are “not quite right for this version of RIDE”, according to Basilio.
“ We wanted to develop something that would bring together all our expertise with respect to motorcycling”
However, for a game wanting to be “ Gran Turismo for bikes”, it’s slightly worrying that a component key to the success of Sony’s racing smash customisation, and lots of it wasn’t playable in a preview build mere weeks before RIDE’s release. The developer promises great things though, with Basilio saying “we have twenty components on each bike you can customise. Some are aesthetic, some are performance, others are both.” The aim is to “customise everything”, using real after-market parts for the bikes and with over 100 accessories included for the racer. Exactly how this is implemented is impossible to predict as of yet, though.

As a racing game, RIDE has its core attraction locked down. It’s a fantastic motorbike racer, potentially a contender for best ever thanks to its intuitive controls and phenomenal selection of hogs and tracks. However, if the customisation suite proves even slightly lacking, it’ll fall far short of its four-wheeled inspiration.

How Authentic are RIDE’s motorcycles? Given Milestone was given the actual CAD data to incorporate into the game, about as close as it can be. “We got a lot of the 3D models manufacturers use to build the bikes in reality,” Basilio tells us. “We start from that, then we have all the data for the engines and measurements for the bikes. That’s really good because our game engine can use that data to simulate the engine in the right way. We also bring the physical bikes in and get the engine roar right. Every bike sounds different because they have the proper engine,” he adds. There you go the closest you’ll get to the real thing without wearing a leather jumpsuit.

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