On yer bike.
Title: Ride 3
Platform: PS4 (reviewed) Xbox One, PC
Release Date: November 30, 2018
TL;DR: Nice controls, great bike models, and authentic annoying bike sounds galore
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Decent motorbike games are pretty hard to come by. Trials Fusion – as fun as it is, surely doesn’t count as a pure-bred racing game, and MXGP Pro seemed to miss the mark considerably. So, in a world where it seems four-wheels rule the roost, are two wheels enough to keep you playing? Well, Ride 3 answers that question and the answer is a solid, sort of. It’s a series that borrows so much from great driving games that it feels like it should be better than it is. But the challenge and replayability infused in the game manages to not quite cover up the cracks but at least leave you wanting to prove that you can overcome the game’s challenges.
It’s been a little over two years since Ride 2, with its strangely proportioned drivers and generic AF tracks. And in that time Ride 3 has managed to solve half of those problems; drivers and the bikes no longer look like an art project from a petrol-headed teenager. Both rider and vehicle seem far more polished this time around, with players able to customise how bikers move when they take corners, while the bikes themselves look a little more robust. Gone are the models that look as if they were drowned in plastic, as the game shoves the level of detail put into the machines in your face at every attempt. It’s a welcome overhaul to the game and when you compare Ride 3 to Ride 2, it’s difficult to get your head around just how far the game has come in a two-year window.
The entire Ride games have always felt like a bit of a mash-up of car games on two-wheels, and Ride 3 does little to distinguish itself from the other titles in the series. The rewind feature saves you a lot of time having to restart races and is pretty generous in how far you can push a race back, as you watch your racer jerk and spasm backwards until they’re safely back on their bike and attempting a tight corner all over again. And the “follow the line mechanic” – while it was by no means invented by Codemaster’s F1 series (I’m guessing) the inclusion of a racing line for those who need it is a welcomed return for the game.
If you’re new to the series then the racing line is a nice way of easing yourself into the style of driving; while other wanky, purist racers demand that you go into a turn at the exact right speed and at the right angle, Ride 3 does that and throws in the angle of the bike to really mix things up. Now look, if you’re a motorbike aficionado then all this will be familiar to you, but for new players coming in, all bright-eyed and idealistic, thinking they’ll about to set the motorsport’s gaming world aflame, well – they might actually have a chance. Yes, the game’s realistic handling of bikes is tough to get your head around early on, but Ride 3 does a great job of dancing that thin line between challenging sim-controls and a noticeable learning curve.
I don’t mean that the game shoots out messages like ‘Way to go!’ or anything like that. It’s a subtle curve that makes you stick with the game. It’s when you realise which turns on a track you can use to jump ahead four places, it’s when you learn to fall into the ebb and flow of speed throughout the tracks. Knowing when you need to slow down before accelerating at the opportune moment and just about easing in front of that bastard Emanuele Mari. The key to this jarringly addictive gameplay is Ride 3’s ability to make you want to go back to each track and prove to the game more than yourself that you can actually finish the race in a respectable place.
What helps the cause in this respect is Ride 3’s approach to Career Mode. The game doesn’t throw you into the world of Motorsports like the F1 series, nor does it put you in the role of the rank amateur like other titles. No, Ride 3’s Career Mode strangely reminded me of the Showcase mode from the WWE series. Rather than move up through conventional leagues or ranks, Ride 3 has you using magazines as signposts for your career. There are five tiers to race through, each with its own set of magazines that contain several races. Rather than being themed around standout moments in the sport’s history, each magazine is themed around bikes. So, the introductory magazine has you race using one of the “iconic” bikes, before you move on to the “Faster” magazine. And in order to fully complete each magazine, you need to read a specific number of stars – which are only given to you with a top three finish, and that’s how the game’s career mode not so much encourage rather than forces you to replay stages.
It’s a decision that feels like a safe one from Milestone. It allows them to avoid splashing out on a flashy “immersive” career that has you balancing your sponsorship deals and navigating press events. Instead, it feels like a comforting look back on the times you would’ve gone out of your way to go and buy similar magazines, tracing the lines of the bike with pencil and paper, and ripping out pictures to hang on your bedroom wall. So, while it may not have the flashy career modes sports fan have become used to in recent years, what Ride 3 offers is a model that naturally lends itself to being replayed again and again.
The game offers more than just a Career Mode, though that’s where you’ll get a taste of everything Ride 3 offers. It’s a mixture of single circuit tracks, point to point sprints, drag races, and time attacks that will have you swapping between bikes just enough to keep you on your toes. And while you have to unlock bikes as you go through the game’s Career Mode, jumping into a multiplayer of quick race match will give to access to the game’s full roster of bikes which is an absolute result. As well as that, Ride 3 offers a community focused “Weekly Event.” At the time of this review we’ve been stuck replaying a time trial through Spain but if it’s something that Ride 3 sticks with over the game’s lifespan then it’s certainly something worth going back to.
Though, for all the basics that Ride 3 does quite admirably, there’s so much missing in the races themselves. Tracks do little worth mentioning, not so much with the courses themselves which are well-devised. but rather the environments. Other than a few cliffs in Spain, it’s difficult to nail down anything that makes a track standout from the others in how it looks.
Add to that an absolute absence of any degree of atmosphere, and the time spent racing was usually with the TV on mute and my own music playing in the background. But if you decide to keep the sound on, you’re treated to nothing more than the satanic orchestra that a cluster of motorbikes creates, grinding and revving you into a state of despair. I wasn’t expecting much, the game actually has a great soundtrack so to forgo a commentator and the chance to include some background music to soften the crazed sound of bikes seems like a decision that leaves the game’s races hollow.
Ride 3 is a game that’ll cultivate a love-hate relationship. It seems like it does just enough to keep you not wanting but needing to come back to it. The flow you quickly fall into with how racing works means you’ll push to see how much faster you can get through a course. The style of the Career mode and even the act of receiving credits after certain placements in a race means you’re put into a position where you feel the need to go back and prove you can do better, finish higher, and earn more. Is it a game worth £50? Probably not, but it’s still a game worth your time.
- A real upgrade in graphics
- The Career Mode is a nice change of pace to the other racing games out in the world/li>
- A genuinely satisfying learning cureve that doesn’t demand too much to get comfortable with
- The majority of tracks are pretty generic
- Races lack atmosphere for the majority of the game
- It caters to new players well, but it’s something that bike veterans will feel dampens the challenge of the game
Pegi: 3 ESRB: “E” for Everyone
Ride 3 offers a nice gateway for young players. It seems like a well-balanced game that’ll serve to challenge players enough that you can help them with some races – or they can help you, that’s not my business.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a copy of the game provided by PR for the purpose of this review.