I’ll be honest. I’m really not into racing sims. It’s not really because I don’t find them enjoyable, but it’s more that I’m just not good at them. The necessary use of braking to turn corners and the right use of acceleration are concepts that only work for me in the real world. When I’m playing racing simulators like Milestone’s Ride 4, I’m just failing left and right. I really tried my best with this one, but after several failed attempts, I threw in the towel. That being said, I can still see the value for motorcycle racing enthusiasts, and I won’t criticize it for my own lack of skill. Full disclosure: I am fully aware that I’m not the target audience for this game, but I’m reviewing it anyway.
As a racing simulator, Ride 4 gives players the chance to take a ride on hundreds of different motorcycles. Players will choose their starting league, including the American League, the European League, and the Asian League. As you build up your career, you’ll earn new customization options for both your bikes and your rider. You’ll also earn credits that will allow you to purchase new brand name motorcycles from the dealership. If you’re familiar with other racing simulators, this should feel pretty standard.
Part of your League tasks in Ride 4 involve passing various license tests, testing your ability to maneuver these versatile vehicles. If these kind of games are your forte, then you’ll likely get through these with ease. Unfortunately for me, I struggled to complete even the earliest tasks. Not only did I have trouble finishing the courses within the time limit, but I also struggled with staying on course. Driving off the track will penalize you, either by adding to your time, or even by failing the test entirely. The initial tutorial was especially a pain, as driving off the track before the lap even started would disqualify the next lap. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but one thing I’ll give it is its determination to prepare the player.
Visually, the game looks and performs fairly well. The bikes all look gorgeous, the lighting fantastic, and the tracks look pretty realistic. Of course, after doing these games for several years, there’s sort of a standard for visuals in this genre that most tend to reach. Running at a smooth frame rate, and showcasing beautiful day and night transitions, this should satiate those looking for a visual treat. Even the rainy races look gorgeous, getting the extra detail of the water on the bikes. While the driving physics seem on point, the collision physics unfortunately seem a bit unrealistic. There were moments where I lightly tapped a wall only for my driver to fly off the bike. At other times, a head-on crash would deliver accidents with little impact.
The worst part with the physics involves the AI during races. The other drivers show no regard for your well being, often driving into you from behind or from the side. This often results in crashing, and sometimes these results tend to be a bit unfair, even leaving the offending AI unscathed while you fly across the pavement. When these accidents happen, sometimes you’ll crash through several other riders, only for nothing to happen to them at all. It seems unrealistic and makes it feel like crashing doesn’t have as big of an effect on the race. Despite this, crashing or losing balance can heavily impact your position in a race. Thankfully, you have the ability to rewind back to change the outcome of certain situations.
While the rewind feature is definitely handy, it would’ve been nice to know about it when I started the game. I actually discovered it by accident, and started to utilize it very often. Even though I could go back to fix mistakes, the game does still have a problem for players like me. It doesn’t really tell you how to get better. I would struggle with certain tests and races, doing different methods of braking to try and improve on my own. While it worked sometimes, others didn’t really see signs of improvement. One license test in particular had a time limit with an incredibly small window for error. Literally, the three goal times were less than two seconds apart combined. I would often miss the bronze goal time by a couple seconds, but if it were slightly more lenient, I would probably have it.
When it comes to racing games, I’m all about the arcade style. Give me Mario Kart. Bring on F-Zero or Wipeout. I can handle those without issues, and even to some degree, Forza Horizon. When it comes to realistic racing simulators like Ride 4, I know I’m garbage at it, but I’d at least like to be better. That’s where Ride 4 fails me as a player. But when I see others that know what they’re doing, I see them having a much better time. I can appreciate the level of detail here, even if I don’t fully understand it. This isn’t a game for me, but it may still be a game for you if you’re into the thrill of simulated racing.
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