I like my motorsport and will quite happily spend many an hour in front of the TV taking in any form of competitive action. Whether it comes with four wheels or just the two, I’m really not bothered.
The same can’t however be said for my gaming sessions, with the vast majority of my time spent with racers in which I’m provided a safe cockpit for me to virtually sit in. Now, much of the reasoning behind that is one of being burnt in the past, many moons ago with some seriously dodgy bike handling mechanics, seeing the two wheeled scene only ever delivering me pain and frustration. But if there were a developer who knows a thing or two about motorbike racing, it would be Milestone. And that is why I find myself here with their latest adrenaline filled bike racer, Ride 2.
And you know what? It’s bloody good too.
You see, not only does Ride 2 deliver some tight authentic racing that will obviously be the biggest draw for any bike fan, but the events which have been included will see you playing it much, much longer than you originally imagined.
The main event comes in the form of the World Tour and this is where you’ll spend most of your time, getting involved in buying, upgrading and racing a multitude of different bikes against AI opponents. Split across four unique categories: Urban Style, Street Icons, Hyper Sport and the stupidly quick Pro Racing, no matter what your preference, Milestone and Ride 2 deliver. Each bike type does pretty much what it says on the tin and you will instantly see and feel the difference in speed, handling, looks and gameplay. You’ll be needing to utilise all your skills should you wish to succeed across all four categories and then see yourself push them even more as you attempt to win each and every race found in the Amateur, Rookie and Veteran sections, progressing up in the overall world rankings in the process.
With a ‘season’ taking place over eight events, you’ll probably find yourself struggling to cope early on, and it’s only once you’ve taken a beating or two, and picked up some credits, experience points and reputation score, will you ever be able to start upgrading your bikes to faster models. And if you want to search for top spot on the podium and gather up the gold medals, then upgrading and purchasing is what you’ll have to do.
But seasons don’t go on forever and when they come to a halt, you’ll be invited to show off your racing skills in the Invitational events. These are locked down, with only one opening for each season you complete, but doing so rewards you in the biggest way possible. They are pretty much vital should you wish to equip your garage with the very best bikes, and manage to actually compete in future seasons.
Obviously, as is the way with most titles, the difficulty and assists that are in place can all be amended, and by raising the bar a little, will see a bigger purse dropping into your in-game bank account. The AI are only ever as clever as you wish them to be and so should you start to struggle, a quick knock down a notch will see you right. You may then start to worry that you can’t appreciate Ride 2 for everything it is as you’ll not have the required cash to compete with the big boys, and in a way, you’d be right. But that said, cash is in plentiful supply and you won’t ever feel ‘poor’ – either in hard cash terms or in quantity of bikes – and so the opportunity to go wild with purchases and upgrades is easy enough.
It is however the medals you pick up which are of most use in the Ride 2 World Tour as the more of these you unlock, the more Championships will open up, bringing you even more content and bang for your buck. As if there wasn’t enough already!
But that’s not all as even though the World Tour delivers most of the goodies, there is also the chance to compete in single player races, defined by your own fair hands, a number of Time Trials and also some local split screen action. All of these are good as five minute time wasters, but will never deliver the massive draw that the World Tour holds.
That draw is complimented brilliantly by the huge roster of machinery at your disposal, and the gigantic solo experience really does make the most of every bike under the sun. Whether you like old classics, or utter powerhouses, Ride 2 delivers just about everything with four unique classes and enough events that will see you need to focus on all bike handling skills. To keep you busy, you’ll find single races, time trials and those which require you to keep to the perfect trajectory at all times. There’s nothing really new though, as most event types have been seen in one way or another in multiple other racers over the years, but the two wheeled variety that Milestone have delivered all work well.
Splattered across all events are numerous tracks and circuits to fling your beast of a machine around at speed. There are real world circuits that have been lovingly recreated and there are loops which take you on an adventure through some of the world’s greatest cities. The infamous Nordschleife, historic Monza and awesome Road America circuits are in town, but should you prefer to go down the streets of Macau or through the valleys of Norway instead, then you may do just that. Just be aware that if you don’t know each track inside-out, then you’ll probably be best off keeping the awesomely created rewind feature switched firmly to on.
Unfortunately, the brilliant time you’ll have with the solo side of Ride 2 doesn’t ever translate to the multiplayer scene. The basics are there, and Milestone have obviously thought pretty hard about what they want to deliver, but much like many games that don’t release under a triple-A banner, you’ll find that hardly anyone is actually bothering to play it. In fact, after multiple attempts, the most racers I’ve ever seen in a single race or online Championship has been three people – with one of those being my good self. And that is massively disappointing.
Perhaps it’s because you can’t spectate whilst waiting for a race to end and impatience takes hold, or perhaps everyone else is enjoying everything the single player side brings so much that they can’t bear to leave it alone. Or perhaps it’s just the way of the Xbox Live community nowadays. But whatever it is, it is massively disappointing because a full grid of human players, instead of seeing an online race filled with AI, would be utterly brilliant.
Whether it would still be as smooth as it is with just a couple of racers, I don’t know, but the only way you’re going to be able to really appreciate the online racing of Ride 2 is by grabbing a load of friends and making them buy a copy.
Aside from some rather annoying loading screens which are happy to rear their ugly head every five seconds and ruin the flow, the only real disappointment with Ride 2 is indeed in that multiplayer aspect.
You see the rest of it, with its rather lovely visuals and pretty damn solid racing will test all-comers and I’m left struggling to criticise the single player at all. Admittedly it’s not in the same league as something like Forza, but it does just about everything a bike nut would want, easily providing the content for them to get involved for weeks on end.
With daily and weekly challenges also in place should you ever tire or complete the World Tour, if you are on the lookout for a new racer and fancy something a little different, then Ride 2 is well worth checking out.