Review: Ride 3

One thing is clear, Ride 3 aspires to be the Forza of two-wheeler racing games. That doesn't have to be a bad goal, if done right. Did the developer, Milestone, succeed?

Milestone has a long history of on- and off-road racing games, both for cars and motorcycles. Our older readers will probably remember their first game, Screamer from 1995. One of the first 3D racing games. Since then they have been making both car and motorcycle racers. In the latter genre they make games with both the Superbike World Championship and the Moto GP licenses. Moto GP can be seen as Formula 1 for motorcycles. Superbike mostly revolves around street bikes that are adapted for the track. After 2012, Superbike was let go and they started their own series: Ride


 

From the first moment it is already clear that Ride 3 should be the Forza of two-wheelers. This is evident in things like rider menus and customization, as well as buying and upgrading over 230 engines. In addition to superbikes, this selection also includes classic and off-road motorcycles in several categories. When it comes to race tracks, there is also plenty of choice. Most important are of course the GP and Supermoto circuits. In addition, we see street circuits, open-road, off-road, and scenic tracks that mainly revolve around atmosphere and views. So the choice is ample.

Forza Motorsport

In that regard, everything is fine. Only the finish has quite a few rough edges. Where the choice of helmets and outfits is very large, you have very few options when making the rider himself. Buying a motorcycle in the dealership is a boring affair. You see some stats of the bike and what it costs. However, there is no nice presentation, just a photo of the side of the engine. Where they do take the trouble to make a beautiful 'home base'. Then I would have preferred a nice, 360-degree render of the engine. This is possible when tuning, so I think it's a strange choice. The game has a modern front door, but an old-fashioned decor.
The career mode also clearly shows borrowing-neighbour. This is divided per step over a number of disciplines. In those disciplines you can score points to unlock the final. So you don't have to play all disciplines for this, but enough to not let you stay in your comfort zone. If you have then played the final, you can move on to the next step. This ensures that you see everything that Ride 3 has to offer. Unfortunately, your progression is somewhat difficult and the variation in the short term is somewhat disappointing.
Also copied is the rewind function. Contrary to the other points, this one is implemented even better in Ride 3 than in Forza. You can choose the exact moment at which you rewind, instead of steps of a fixed duration. You also get out with a delay, so that you have time to pick up your speed safely. A photo mode has also been implemented, with lots of options to play with as well. I'm still not sure how to actually take the photo though! Positive is the extra information you can see during races, such as detailed engine information or the names of the turns.

Gameplay

In the end, it's about racing. After just about a hundred hours of Forza Horizon 4, switching back to a two-wheeler is a bit spicy. Curves have to be cut very differently. Where wide curves are fast in car racing games, they are necessary here. Especially with a cornering combination, where you need time to let the bike lean the other way. It's certainly not my first motorcycle game, but it's the first since Moto Racer 4. And Moto Racer isn't really known as a simulation.
Fortunately, there is the 'School of Speed', and I can work on my skills. Unfortunately you will not get a lesson, but there are some challenges. Reach the finish in time without falling or leaving the track. Missed opportunity to actually introduce gamers properly. Especially gamers who are new to the motorcycle genre.
Motorcycles require a completely different finesse than cars. Motorcyclists will also be able to confirm this. This finesse is clearly visible. After some practice you have mastered motorcycling, then it is wonderful to ride. And if you have had enough of the races, it is also wonderful to cruise on the special 'circuits'. You can also lose a lot of hours in adjusting the different engines and trying out the results.

Detail

There are two things that can definitely be improved. First, the twitchy behavior of minor corrections. In Ride 3 you see that small corrections, especially to different sides, are not translated smoothly enough in the leaning. After each correction, you stop very abruptly in your movement. It doesn't affect the gameplay much itself, but I do find that because of this I tend to correct again.
Second, the drop is a bit unreliable. Sometimes you hit a wall or behind another rider at 200 km/h and there is nothing to worry about. Another time you drive into a pawn or just a little crooked past a curbstone, and you go on your mouth. Despite that, the curbstones look very flat, and have little influence on the handling. An odd contradiction. When you fall you also fly around like a ragdoll. The technology should already be there to make a motorcyclist fall more realistically.
Ultimately, of course, you shouldn't go crazy, but these points ensure that you have to use the rewind more often than desirable.

Presentation

Sound in motorcycle games seems to be a difficult issue for developers. Engines always sound shriller than a roaring V8. But the lack of punch makes it sound too shrill. However, the sound adapts well to the camera position you have chosen and is muted if you choose the view from your helmet. The Surroundings give a good view from front to back, but not from left to right. With sound you can therefore determine whether a rider is behind you, but not on which side.
The engines look good and detailed. Asphalt is nicely detailed and believable, and looks great in rain too. Everything on the rideable part of the circuits looks very neat. However, if you look next to the circuit, Ride 3 unfortunately falls short. Circuits have little decoration and therefore feel empty. Sometimes the circuits are quite similar because of this. Street circuits are a lot easier to keep apart because of the scenery. Unfortunately, these look static and very undressed. It's not a deal breaker, but again this hurts the experience. The game is graphically very acceptable everywhere, but it certainly doesn't excel either.

Conclusion

Milestone is on the right track with Ride 3, but they still have a long way to go. In the beginning it was difficult to get back into the two-wheeler mindset, but this came back after a little practice. A missed opportunity is the lack of extra 'color' in the form of individual games and challenges. I wouldn't call their gem of Superbike 2001 matched yet, but there's plenty of progress to be seen. Ultimately it is a very entertaining game and I recommend it to anyone who has a weakness for motorcycles.


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