Ride 3 Review

December 19, 2018
Xbox One
Also on: PC, PS4

If you’re a car fanatic and a gamer then you’re pretty much catered for no matter what platform you’re on. There are the die-hard sims such as iRacing or Assetto Corsa all the way through to collectathons such as Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. Should you, however, be more of a fan of two wheels rather than four, it’s relatively slim pickings. There are a few licensed games such asthe MotoGP series but if you dream of owning a classic Ducati or a Triumph then look no further than the Ride series.

Now at its third instalment, the series has come a long way in such a short time having only debuted in 2015. It probably helps that, alongside Ride, developers Milestone are also in control of the MotoGP series as well. Much of what you see in Ride 3 looks and feels about the same as MotoGP 18 including a move to the Unreal 4 engine. However, with a vastly larger pool of bikes the handling comes across as a little softer and a little bit more forgiving. This is no bad thing and makes this a much more accessible title than its racing counterpart. You’ll still get some liveliness though, especially under braking, but it treads the line well enough so as to give a taste of what it’s like to push these machines to their limits without tank-slapping your rider off at a moment’s notice.

Finding my inner Steve McQueen

It does seem, however, that Ride 3 has inherited some of MotoGP 18’s lesser qualities as well. Chief among them is the questionable AI which still has a blind obedience to the racing line and is joined by some odd habits even whilst in a straight line. They seem to wobble and weave their way out when pushing from one side of the track to the other almost as if their rider downed a glass of liquid courage before setting off. Whilst it didn’t occur every time we ran alongside someone, when it did, it was rather off-putting as we were never quite sure what they were going to do. Still, should you find yourself tumbling off into the nearest sandtrap, Ride 3 utilises a rewind feature which you may find yourself using more often than you’d like.

The main bulk of Ride 3 is contained in its career mode and much like the Forza Motorsport series, it’s divided up into tiers, each with categorised events based around a specific category of bike. With over 230 bikes to choose from there’s plenty of variety depending on the category you’re racing in. Alongside this is the ability to customise each one from actual components to a powerful livery editor giving you the ability to make each ride your own. However, each level feels very much a slog with the level to unlock new tiers feeling a touch too high. Forza suffers from a similar issue but the theatre surrounding each event and series distracts you somewhat. Whilst Ride 3 attempts to emulate Forza it lacks its four-wheeled cousin’s ability to wow both on and off the track.

You can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!

One thing that both titles try to do is make the vehicles the star. Forza has Forzavista and intros to fill you in on the details and whilst Ride 3 tries its best, it falls well short. We suspect budget plays a part here as, whilst you’re waiting for your race to load — since the load times are somewhat long — you are presented with some info about your chosen bike. What’s unfortunate here is that it’s a wall of text split over a few pages. Sure it’s cool to learn about our bike’s history but would a voiceover hurt or, when we win a bike, tells us there rather than plonk a rather unexciting box of text down for us to read? One thing Ride 3 does get right though is how good the bikes look. Each one looks lovely, especially the bike you choose as your main ride as that takes pride of place in your loft which is used as a home base and background for the menus.

It’s probably a good thing that you do have your bike to look at as your browse around as the menus are rather basic and some features are hidden a little. Whilst there’s a powerful livery editor to customise your ride, applying community designs is a little harder to find. Once you’ve picked the design you want from the online liveries you need to go to graphics to apply the livery. It would be much simpler to be able to apply them straight away or from the customisation menus when we’re upgrading.

Should you wish to take things online your choices are somewhat limited to either a private race or matchmaking. The latter depends on there being other racers around with open, public lobbies. During our time we never came across one to try things out; instead we were plonked in our own lobby and despite waiting around, no-one seemed to be around for a race. If you do find a match it’ll be a single race with the lobby settings being voted on.

Leading the way in the dark

Thankfully there are weekly challenges to contend with and each has leaderboards so even if you can’t find an online race you can still compare yourself to the best. There’s also a time-trial mode should you wish to test yourself on any one of the thirty tracks on offer. It’s a good place to start if you want to get used to the handling model outside of the game’s tutorial volume which focuses more on the different groups of bikes than anything else. Ride 3 really is a little bare outside the gargantuan career mode and whilst there’s a community out there it feels hidden and a bit of an afterthought rather than making it front and centre.

At its core Ride 3 is all about the bikes and the tracks to race them on and it acquits itself well here. The career mode is a slog but each tier and volumes of races act as a celebration of an era or type of bike. Ride 3 doesn’t quite elevate its bikes to the Hollywood-like levels Forza achieves but what it does do is adequate enough for those who are prepared to read about their biking history. Whether you’re a fan of bikes or not, there’s plenty to love about Ride 3 and its approach to racing on two wheels.

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Ride 3 pushes the series ever onwards and whilst it’s mostly unremarkable it should be lauded for providing bike enthusiasts the world over with their Forza equivalent.
Pete Taylor

A long time gamer since the days of the mighty ZX Spectrum +2. The bug really bit when I got a Sega Mega Drive 2 and it hasn’t let up since. Huge racing fan but I also enjoy losing myself in a well-told RPG and management sims. It doesn’t have to be good-looking to win my heart, it’s what’s deep down inside that matters.