There are two sayings that spring to mind when I think of Milestone; “Focus on your passion to define your niche” and “If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it”. After finding success recently with the MotoGP and MXGP franchises, Milestone returns with a new two wheeled franchise – Ride.
Over 100 bikes, real world tracks and realistic handling, Ride allows you to race at ridiculously high speeds without the ridiculously high chance of breaking bones when you fall off – this aspect is not a worry for our bike destroying angry Scotsman – It’s very hard not to say that this is a two wheeled version of Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport.
Ride doesn’t just throw you in at the deep end though, it eases you in gently as you prepare for life on the open road. If you are not familiar with motorbike racing (yes Digi, there is more to it than just running into them) a handy tutorial explains racing lines, weight shifting, leaning, front braking, back braking and tucking. For a newcomer to the racing genre in general it really explains the basics well – something that is often forgotten in this day and age.
For a racing game, there is a hell of a lot of driver/rider customization options. This being said the faces of said riders are, well, let’s just say that they may have had two or three too many gravel rash experiences but let’s be honest, what the face of your avatar looks like is of little consequence when it is covered by a helmet for 90% of the time.
After you have finished creating your biker version of the Elephant (wo)Man you can begin to take part in races. The majority of the game takes place in the World Tour mode in which you purchase a bike and begin to compete in races and tournaments in order to increase your wealth and reputation on the Leaderboards. These events are restricted based on the power and make of your current bike so to say you will have to purchase a vast array of “rides” is a bit of an understatement.
The events are where Milestone could have got lazy and offered straight up racing but they also knew that that would get old quickly, so have gone to town on a large variety of different race modes. Drag racing, head to head challenges, time trials, overtaking challenges and endurance racing work well alongside straight up races. Completion of the events awards you both money and reputation points dependent on how well you performed in the race, and it’s these that allow you to progress throughout the game.
In-game cash can be used to either buy new motorcycles or customize your current ride, both visually and mechanically. This is another aspect Milestone has gone to town with making an amazing diversity of both visual and performance upgrades being available.
The reputation points increase, well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that they are going to increase your reputation; however greater reputation not only increase your placement on the Leaderboards but also allows you to enter special, elite events which unlock free motorcycles upon successful completion.
If, at any point, time for game playing is at a premium you will be delighted to know that Ride has a simpler Quick Mode in which you can set up exhibition races or time trails with your own preferences to compete on your own or in split screen couch co-op. It’s good to see that this is not an extinct aspect of video games as next gen gaming starts to come into its own.
Your more standard fare of co-op these days is also present as the online mode allows you to compete against eleven other human opponents. This takes the form of the expected online lobbies which does allow you to customize it enough to be unique to you and your Midlife Gamer drinking buddies on a Friday night.
Visually the bikes are the stars of the show, filled with details and a pleasure to look at as you hurtle round the equally as aesthetically pleasing tracks. The same can’t be said of the soundtrack as the music played throughout the races really grated, leading me to the in game menu to actually turn it off. This left the realistic and often hypnotic engine noises. I would expect that, in future iterations, we will start to see licensed tracks be included.
The controls are responsive, which for the genre is vital, and the sense of speed in first person mode (a mode I never normally use in racing games) is immense. Although tricky to get used to at first – this isn’t a car racing game after all – Ride really is an excellent title for both seasoned pro’s and newcomers to the racing genre. The extended loading times (30 seconds and upwards at times) and basic soundtrack sour the experience a little but if you can look past these then Ride is an excellent first foray for this IP.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: PlayStation 4 Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Rideby the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a PlayStation 4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.