Review: Ride (PS4/PS3)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 3

Extras:

  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Ride
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (PS4 16.9 GB) (PS3 5.5 GB)
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Milestone
Original MSRP: $59.99 (PS4) / $39.99 (PS3)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
Ride is also available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.
The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 download versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Milestone, the same developers that gave us the Moto GP series, WRC, and MXGP now adds another racing game to their library and it goes by the name of Ride. So another motorcycle game, but is there anything to set it apart from their other two-wheeled racers? I take the PS3 and PS4 versions for a spin to find out.

Gameplay:
A major difference right off the bat, or out of the starting gate to use a more fitting pun, is that the loading on the PlayStation 3 version can be achingly slow at times when compared to the PlayStation 4, seeing that both versions seem to dawdle at times. Aside from the obvious graphical differences with the two versions, which I’ll detail later, there is virtually nothing to tell them apart.

You have an extensive World Tour mode which features single races, time trials, championships, event days, endurance, and drag races. In each type, you have to try to either place first, second, or third for a corresponding medal or pass a certain amount of other riders within set times, which also awards some medals. Better medals give you more credits to spend on better bikes and their customization. Better bikes means more events which then means… You get it don’t you.

… no risk, only reward …
The customization is quite deep, allowing you to change everything from the exhaust to the type and colour of the chain. Here lies the first problem. You begin with the standard kit for the entire bike. All the other options improve it and there is no loss to any other attributes.

Spend enough money and you can have the best bike. There is no tinkering and tweaking like you find in Gran Turismo, no risk, only reward. This takes some of the fun and skill away.

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The selection of bikes is good for you to save up for and buy. With each you have a good description which details its history. You’ll see this every time a track is loading and you will have plenty of time to read and digest the information. Eventually you also get to pan around and zoom in on a 3D model of your chosen bike whilst the track is still loading. Yes, as I mentioned earlier, the loading times aren’t great.

Just like other games from Milestone you can change a lot of things to make the racing feel more realistic. Being able to adjust a variety of features and the amount of assists means it can be quite easy to jump on a bike and start racing.

… nice gradual acceleration and feathering of the brakes …
The experienced few can turn most things off and have a very technical and masterful race. I suggest several races with everything on and then, one by one, turn them off till you feel a good balance.

I really enjoy motorcycle racing games but don’t know any of the lingo so you won’t hear any of the terminology like Splicing, Stinky Fingers, Cages, Blips, or a Road Rash. Oh, Road Rash, what a great game, if only Milestone made a version of that classic.

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Anyway, where was I? Ride is easily accessible for the novice racer but you’ll still end up crashing or being clipped by another bike, sending you tumbling off. Thankfully there is a temperamental rewind time feature that hopefully allows you to avoid the mistake and not make another, as spamming the feature is not allowed.

The triggers on the DualShock controllers allow for some nice gradual acceleration and feathering of the brakes which means you can expertly snake around some devilishly tight corners as your knee barely shaves the dirt from the road. After learning the tracks it becomes easy to stop weaving the bike on a steady curve, ignoring some of the misleading corner guides and speeding round the quick bends.

… you suffer no repercussions for any knocks …
There’s no massive selection of tracks but what’s there does offer a nice variety. From the steep valleys of the gloomy Welsh countryside, to the sunny straights of the French Riviera, to the tight city turns of Miami, and the dense Italian woodlands of the Stelvio National Park. Each location offers a few variants and challenges.

The tracks aren’t an issue but the other racers are. They stick to the perfect racing line and only waver when you nudge them. They’ll clip your bike and turn into you without the slightest regard to safety or rules. It feels like to them, you don’t exist. On the flip side it also means they don’t bear a grudge and you suffer no repercussions for any knocks.

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No thought or consideration was taken into account when it comes to Remote Play on the Vita as you have to press the bottom right corner of the touch screen to accelerate. All’s not lost, as you can change the controls in the main menu by assigning a different set, but then you’d have to remember to swap them back once you’re done. Regardless of all of that you still lose the all important gradual press of the triggers anyway so Vita isn’t the way to go for this game.

Visuals:
A large field of view allows for a decent scope of the winding roads ahead, which turns out to be a very mixed bag of quality on the PS3. Some moments look good with detailed buildings and thick dense woods or a line of palm trees filling the sides of the snaking roads through a mountainous region or along a sun-kissed road.

… they sacrificed the level of detail too much for the PS3 …
The texture quality on the PlayStation 3 is low and messy while the PS4 is a different story altogether as it looks fantastic. There is some pop-in on a few things here and there but the level of detail is really nice and you get a good sense of speed.

It feels like they aspired to have the look of DRIVECLUB and even had moments where they come close, at least on the PS4. It seems like they wanted all the paraphernalia and side of track objects and in doing so they sacrificed the level of detail too much for the PS3.

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That isn’t to say the PS3 version is bad. It’s just as fast and technical as the PS4 version, but it’s been scaled back considerably and has moments where it resembles a late-gen PS2 game. There is a lot of pop-in in certain areas where it seems to have too much going on and the PS3 just can’t handle it.

The bikes are great and are probably the best part of the visual experience, then you add a nice plain-looking male or female rider that you created earlier to complete the package. This game is really just motorcycle porn. It sounds crazy but the racing almost takes a back seat (pun intended) in relation to the bikes themselves.

… excellent bike and rider animations …
With regard to the PS4 version, I only wish it had been released before DRIVECLUB as I can’t help but compare the two visually and it just isn’t fair. The lighting and shadows are very nice with some excellent bike and rider animations. Even the leathers worn by the riders look very detailed and realistic. I look forward to the developers being able to focus on this version next time round and not having to spend time on the weaker PS3 game.

I found the best camera setting to be the farthest behind the rider so I can see the angle of the bike and be able to judge the turnings properly. The in-front, handle-bar and helmet camera views make it very hard to control the bike but some may like the realism they provide.

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Audio:
For some reason I’m reminded of some old action films like Lethal Weapon and Tango and Cash when I hear the music in Ride, which isn’t a bad thing. It does get a little repetitive but not so much that I adjusted it or turned it off.

There’s a male voiceover in the tutorial and when introducing new modes. He sounds like an airline pilot trying to seduce a stewardess. At least he definitely gave the impression that he likes motorbikes, just maybe a bit too much.

… moments of beauty intermingled with very bland roads …
Online/Multiplayer:
Online includes two-player split screen and up to sixteen online. Sounds good, and for the most part it generally is. The online lobby system is simple and easy to understand with a clear way of voting on tracks and seeing the other people and their bikes. Each race I competed in was smooth and problem-free with the strange exception of being able to race through another bike on a few occasions.

The split screen mode is very nice. The graphics hardly take a hit and the speeds are just like the single-player game, however ten bikes are taken away. Also, the second player can’t claim any trophies and you lose the helmet cam but it still remains a fun option to have available.

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Conclusion:
Controls feel tighter on the PS4 and the graphics have moments of beauty intermingled with very bland roads and a few stale areas. The detailed bikes and nicely animated riders make this game fun. Hurtling round corners and going full throttle on a straight is great but then being nudged into a corner by the reckless A.I. can be frustrating. There’s lots of customization that’s too simplistic for the technically savvy gamer to enjoy but it ends up making the bikes look very nice.

Ride is a very solid and fun motorcycle racer that never quite delivers on its full potential. Both versions are good but the PS3 game suffers terribly in the visual department. This is an excellent beginning to a new IP that I can’t wait to see more of in the future.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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