Developer: Milestone S.r.i
Publisher: Milestone S.r.i
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Tested on: Xbox One
Ride 2 – Review
Since the invention of motorcycles, it has been an icon of freedom. Motorcycles were the first affordable transport that did not rely on human or animal power. The first versions where simply bicycles which had been equipped with an internal combustion engine. As the years go on and public interest grew: the engines and designs became more effective, the many different uses and differing styles allowed for a wider range of models to come out. For most people driving a bike is the ideal way to get free of daily stress, and racing a bike is another way for seeking the thrills and dangers to the next level. Not many real motorcycle race games have been available; most of them are either pure circuit or off-road racing. This is where Ride 2 comes in, to bring joy to everyone.
The goal in Ride 2 is very simple: become the most famous racer in the world, while starting off at the bottom. By winning races your reputation will increase, the higher you place the better your reputation will become so even if you are not the best driver you will still slowly climb upon the ranks. A higher placement will mean more invites towards special events; this also means that next to being the most famous driver, your team can also become famous in the process. The more progress you make the faster higher difficulties of events will be released, these are meant for faster and more expensive rides.
In comparison with newer titles Ride 2 feels like it’s hopping behind a bit. Graphically the game is reminiscent to the early Xbox One and PlayStation 4 titles, rather than the current batch of releases for said platforms. The scenery looks mediocre and spectators, while they are all 3D rendered, they either have a basic looping animation, or are displayed as static items, just like the rest of the background. Bikes and riders on the other hand, are well detailed which gives the impression that the main focus during development was placed on them. Most of the dashboards are well refined with a working speedometer, tachometer and odometer, yet on some bikes the little texts on the steering is blurred out. This is a missed opportunity but we can understand such shortcomings in an arcade-like title. Many points of view are available if you want to drive in third person view enjoying the looks of your bike or hog the steering wheel and enjoy fast speeds in first person. A fun addition, to make things a lot more realistic is the implementation of a helmet view, which truly gives this title an extra edge.
The first thing that is noticeable is the presence of music during races. While many games tend to get rid of music for the sake of realism, Ride 2 offers some nice and peppy background songs that makes you want to go faster and win. Bikes have an unique sound which corresponds with their engine and class: a two stroke engine has that distinct high pitched whining sound reminding you of your teenage days (for those who grew up driving bikes). Classic bikes have that chopper like valve clanking sound that is just enjoyable to hear while race engines all sound burly and unique to each other. With the coming of H1 spec bikes (namely bikes with turbo engines) the turbo is well present and all the correct turbo sounds are properly timed, giving the game a qualitative simulation feeling. When racing, the opponents’ bikes are well heard, giving you an indication of how close or how far they all are. While smaller or un-tuned engines do not boast extra sounds, higher tuned or racing engines will give that distinct bang when switching gears.
Ride 2 is a racing simulation game that feels like an arcade title at times, while gameplay isn’t solely based on realism it does pull out all the stops to perform like one. The game starts off with an introduction race; in which the game shovels a highly powered racing bike under your leathery behind. The meaning of this race is that you get a slight feeling of the things yet to come, since you will start at the bottom. A varied selection of four bikes is present: a supermoto, a café racer, a naked bike and a 125cc two stroke. One of those will get your career started but don’t be worried, you can afford other bikes soon enough. The wide variation in the World Tour Season Mode is very appealing because you are not restricted to the series, you chose earlier, allowing you to freely switch between the different series. There are four categories: Urban Style, Street Icons, Hyper Sport and Pro Racing, these sets are individually divided into three difficulties: Amateur, Rookie and Expert. A season will last eight races but it doesn’t matter if you finish first or last: each finished race will count towards the season finale. These races are not just races; they also contain time attacks and overtake challenges to put some variation in the already diverse season mode. After completing eight races an invitational event is unlocked. Again the player is free to decide which event he/she wants to compete in, each offering unique prizes. The more sets of eight races you finish, the more invitational events will become available further along during the game.
The ultimate goal in Ride 2 is to become the most popular and reputable racer in the world, this is done by winning races and challenges, which yield reputation points next to cash or material prizes. Next to the main season mode a few extra treats are present: championships and team vs team. Championship mode is unlocked by filling in the quotes that are requested during gameplay, mainly getting enough medals in the appropriate season mode. Team vs team let’s you build your own racing crew to compete for top ranks in an invitational-like setting, you must get your reputation as a racer up to the point where the other teams want to challenge you. Completing these races will reward you with a nice sum of cash, reputation and a bike of your choice. In case that you find your team lacking some skill, there is a daily and weekly challenge mode where you must complete a race with the given specs. These races offer you tokens which then can be used to hire new teammates or apply boosts in-game.
You cannot do all that racing in your daily clothes though, Ride 2 offers to tailor-made your driver: starting from basic information and is expanded into five selectable outfits. Now that we got our outfits all set it is time to talk about the motorbikes. To begin the bikes react as they are built, this means that a stock motorbike will drive fine but will not stick to corners like one equipped with racing slicks. Upgrading your vehicle makes an immense difference that is felt immediately: when tuning up the engine, a better power delivery is felt and a good chance that your bike will pop wheelies on its own. Investing in new brakes and tires will give you better stopping power and cornering abilities, allowing taking turns at higher speeds and braking more precise. Most of these upgrades are visible on the motorcycle, as well on the bikes from the opposition so you know what you’re up against. Cosmetics can be enhanced such as new grips, mirrors, handlebars, hand guards, rims and many more. For the grease monkeys among us they can enjoy a wide selection of two wheelers: 177 bikes divided into 20 brands and seven categories.
The AI in Ride 2 is also one of a special kind: while in most cases they just bluntly run you off the track, giving the impression they all are riding on rails and giving the feeling that there is no real ‘intelligence’ since on some occasions they will just fall of their bike while cornering to fast or crashing into each other, giving some funny scenes. There is no penalty of physical contact, giving you the chance to disable their steel horses in a revenge move.
While the graphics might not be the strong point of Ride 2, it compensates with grade A gameplay and handsomely filled race modes. What makes the game so attractive is the huge selection of bikes and the clear distinct feeling in how they handle and the ability to customize all of them. We do want to note that when this game was tested, a constant stream of updates have been released upgrading the game and enhancing gameplay. This shows that the developers are greatly working to improve their title post game. While most racing simulators concentrate on realism it is fun to know that there are developers who still care about sheer driving fun.