When you boot up Ride 2 you are immediately greeted with a sultry voice explaining to you that this is a game made for people who love bikes. A proud people who I can confidently say I have nothing to do with. I know very little about motor bikes, nothing that I didn’t already know when I was five years old. They make big noise and go real quick. Hereth end what I know about bikes. So why review the damn game? Well mostly because I wanted to push myself outside of my regular comfort zone and expand my tastes a little bit. I may well have developed a taste for Moto GP after playing Ride 2 for some time. Furthermore an outsiders perspective can be very important from time to time, its no good for your niche to become too homogenized, the community would never grow and the genre would stagnate… So what I’m saying is that by playing Ride 2, I saved Motor Bike games.
In the visual department Ride 2 is very similar to my gear shifting, its up and then its down. In motion its very easy on the eyes which is mostly down to its rock steady frame rate and pacing, I never once noticed a drop or any hitching, which after playing as much Bloodborne as I have, you really come to appreciate. Bikes gleam very convincingly in the sun and generally look great all round. The Models are quite intricate and the game is very much inclined to show this off. I also have it on good authority that the bikes are very faithful recreations of their real life counterparts, though it is hard to take this as much of a compliment, because if your game is nothing but Bikes, those bikes had best look god damn top notch. Rider models are… well they’re okay. They bob and sway believably with the bikes as they move through the course, but if you play as well as I do, you will become very custom to the hilarious rag doll effect that plays when your bikes careens round the corner and your rider goes flying off in the other direction. Environments have a decent level of detail, especially the foliage that zips by as your drive, which really creates the sense of speed that racing games live or die on. I was particularly impressed by the draw distance here, as vistas spread out as far as they eye can see. However, the actual texture work is much less impressive. Now to be fair, you wouldn’t notice for the most part as you speed through the course, but as mentioned before, I spend a lot of time off my bike so I had time to notice these things. Another thing I noticed was the terrifying Lego men that are this games crowds, and I say Lego men not just because of their low quality models, but because of the non reactions they had to my body slamming against them at high speeds.
I thankfully had a bike enthusiast on hand to tell me about how much of a love letter the visuals of this game was, but unfortunately this very same enthusiast just cannot play racing games on a regular controller. So I was on my own when it came to gameplay, and considering my only real experience with controlling bikes was Mario Kart Wii this was going to be rough. And rough it was, as the tutorial lap loaded up and the same sultry voice from the beginning of the game stated rather ominously that this is were I would prove my worth. The lap starts up and as you approach the first turn a very helpful graphic appeared that guides you round the racing line. Being the manly man I am, I of course decided that I knew better and took a very different approach… which resulted in a horrific accident. So I rethought my strategy and decided that I would attempt to follow the line on my next corner… which also resulted in a horrific accident. By that point I was so far behind the race that I decided to restart. This time I understood the guidance system a little more. It changes colour depending on the speed of your approach. If you’re coming in too fast, the graphic will turn red and warn you of impending doom, but if you ease of the throttle and take the turn in plenty of time you will see a lovely calming blue line the whole way through. A welcome crutch to a new player like myself, but something that is easily removes for advance racers looking for the pure experience. The controls themselves are what I would describe as deceptively simple, in that that are easy enough to get a whole of, but using them correctly is an entirely different thing. What I mean to say is that the game controls perfectly and there’s nothing between you and winning bar your own skill level.
In the end I didn’t end up falling in love with Moto GP because of Ride 2, but that’s more of a limitation of the actual genre then the game itself. I suppose my main issue (as a particularly poor racer) was that I never felt engaged while I losing. Or rather, when I had wiped out so much that I was far too far behind everyone else. And in Mario Kart you are much more likely to pick up an item that levels the playing field in last place, but in Ride 2 which is undoubtedly much more based in reality, you either get good of get off.
So that’s exactly what I did, I got off. I felt a deeper understanding of sim racers, and although I wasn’t sold on the whole experience, I can see a lot of quality in Ride 2. My score is a bit of a mix between my own enjoyment of the game, and how much I respect it as a well made product. If you like to race bikes… well you probably already own it. But, if you’re looking for a place to start, then I can tell you I had fun with Ride 2, maybe you will too.