Back in April 2015, I was handed what was in all likelihood, the first motorbike racing game I’d played since Road Rash. I won’t beat about the bush, Ride was distinctly average. Now Milestone have updated and released the 2016 model, Ride 2. Can we hope for a more comfortable seat and grips to carry us along, or is it another old banger of a game?
If there was one thing that really rankled from the first edition of Ride, it was the loading times. You will spend roughly 40% of your gaming time staring at a pretty picture of a bike. In Ride 2, I was really hoping that this would be addressed, but the first thing that hits you is not one, but two separate loading screens. From a gaming aesthetic, it’s massively frustrating to be staring at a loading graphic when all you want is to stick leather on a seat and wheel-spin away.
The chances are then, you get fed up with looking at the screen shot below, but don’t abandon the game too quickly for this. Stick with the loading and there’ll be a fairly pleasant surprise on the horizon. Like finding out that the price of petrol at your local garage has dropped.
Tedious loading time aside then, once you’re into the meat of the game, you can expect some refreshing changes to the first title’s initial menus and there’s been a welcome introduction of daily and weekly challenges in case the rigors of a seasonal tour are getting a little too much. There are a huge number of tracks available to play from the outset, with multiple layout variations on racing mainstays like the Nurburgring.
You’ll also find a massive selection of bikes to ride. The game doesn’t seem to have any license restrictions, so whatever your preference from a two-wheeled terror standpoint, Ride 2 will be able to accommodate. From Nakeds to Supermoto scramblers to Superbikes, there will be something for even the most demanding biker. The proof of the gaming is in the play though, and this is where Milestone have been busy in the garage with the cowling off.
When you compare the two games, Ride 2 has obviously had some attention. Even though the scenery rushing by when on-track doesn’t look to have had enough detail shoe-horned in, if it means the loading times are slightly cut, I can deal with that. The biggest improvement comes in the AI, bike handling and collision detection. Now, ordinarily, this would be a good thing. Given the fact that Milestone also make Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP game, which handles and feels much better, I can’t help but wonder if both development camps ought to have a bit of a get-together for Ride 3, should it make it that far.
So, while the AI is better than the first release, it’s still wooden. There’s no extra movement from the riders, something you’d expect from other folk when racing on bikes. They don’t glance around and when tipping the bike round a corner, the knee doesn’t go down from your opposition. That’s not my only grumble with the AI. To explain, I’ll need to give you a bit of background. The bikes use a Gran Turismo-type PP score to rank your bike in Ride 2. With this and the bike type, you can only enter the events that your bike and PP qualify for. Your AI are all mounted on similarly powered machines, but on-track initially, you wouldn’t have guessed. Power along the Nurburgring’s Döttinger Höhe straight and your fellow riders will cruise past you, even on lesser ranked bikes. It doesn’t seem fair and frankly, doesn’t seem possible.
If you’ve played the first game, you’ll notice that the biggest improvement is the bike handling and collision detection. There’s a definite improvement in the connection between you and the bike. It is much smoother, even if the controls are still a little twitchy. You have more confidence going into collisions. The first game would flip you totally off the bike, losing you crucial places, at the slightest hint of a touch. In Ride 2 you can go in with a little bit of confidence as the AI rigidly cuts across you, sticking religiously to the racing line.
I’ve not got the greatest amount of experience on the usual engine whine and other related sounds on a raceday. Needless to say that the bikes sound like bikes. There’s some funky electro-pop during the numerous loading screens, which gets fairly tiresome after hearing it for a while.
So, the AI is improved, the visuals are pretty much the same and the audio is fairly standard. The biggest issue is career progression. You need credits to upgrade your bike and become more competitive. This will allow you to win races and become more competitive. It’s a bit of a vicious circle and getting off the mark will mean that you will have to come back and play the same tracks against the same opposition a few times to get some podiums and wins under your belt. You can then start to upgrade your current bike. It’ll be a long time before you can expand your garage with the game’s current career progression set up, that’s for sure.
In the order of a season review for Ride 2 then, the game is vastly improved over the first release, which in truth, wouldn’t have been hard. You can now hustle opposing riders without the fear of flying off, although the controls are a little sketchy still. The AI is stiff, however, and feels very robotic. Sharing equal 2nd place on the podium of irks for Ride 2, though is the difficulty in career progression and our old favourite, the ridiculous loading times. Comparing it to the market of bike games that are out there already, grab yourself Valentino Rossi: The Game. Even though they’re both by Milestone, one streaks away as the superior title.