If you feel as though you’ve mastered every aspect of last year’s ‘Ride’, then you’ll have no doubt been looking forward to its sequel, the aptly named, ‘Ride 2’. The hardcore racing sim developed by Milestone S.r.l ,is aimed at those who’ve always turned an envious shade of green at Gran Turismo’s overabundance of wheels.
Describing Ride 2 as the two wheeled Gran Turismo goes a lot further than you think too. Featuring a truly impressive roster of bikes, inevitably including different engine sizes and disciplines, as well as many true to life tracks, Ride 2’s off to a scorching start. You can also upgrade the performance of your owned bikes in a variety of ways too, suspension settings can be tweaked, new tires purchased and even acquiring new performance parts such as air filters can be bought with your winnings too.
Bikes are generally categorised into classes using the performance points system that Forza pioneered all those years ago. The majority of races in the games career will also have entry requirements too. Generally they’re in the realm of only being able to enter with a bike’s performance levels being up to a set level, or restrictions on the bike’s engine sizes. Later on this doesn’t pose much of an issue; however it does make things a little tricksome at the start with what you can do and what you can enter.
If you are struggling for cash at any point in the career however, fortunately you can earn money throughout the game’s other modes. Quick races and online play will all earn you some much needed cash, perfect for either cosmetic or performance enhancements on your favourite bike. Either that, or you could always put it towards one of the 200 or so bikes on offer. Whilst the tantalising promise of newer and better upgrades isn’t an entirely original premise, it’s a proven formula, and anyone into their bikes will relish the collecting opportunity.
What’s a racing sim, especially one which prides itself on authenticity, without a solid handling model? Luckily we don’t have to find out, as Milestone S.r.l, famed for their history and experience with everything two-wheeled, have nailed the strong variances between bikes. Lesser powered, smaller rides feel darty and nip around corners, whereas the heavier, vastly more powerful superbikes need to be treated with much more attention. Missing the turn-in point will all but guarantee some dramatic understeer and you’ll be more likely to end up kissing the gravel than the apex.
Speaking of track day difficulties, those who’ve rarely, or even never, played a bike racing sim before, will be in for quite the troublesome times for the first hour or two. Thankfully, there’re plenty of difficulty options available. Again, much like Forza, you can tailor the difficulty in exchange for more, post-race, rewards. Even after altering both riding assists and the AI difficulty, sometimes a race just isn’t going your way; thankfully, Ride 2 has you covered with its ‘rewind’ feature. Letting you get away with murder as many times as you wish, it can feel a little on the cheap side, especially when you could quite feasibly use it on every corner. Having said that, even with the AI difficulty on its tamest setting, I have more than often encountered a struggle through the pack. This is not an easy game. Apparently my extensive experience with car racing games in the past has done me no favours here!
Once you’ve gotten the hang of posturing, and how to manipulate the front and rear brakes independently (or just turned on some more assists) it’s to pick your discipline. On top of the standard races, there’re also Time Trials, Perfect Trajectories and Pair Racing. Whilst Pair Racing and Time Trials are both fairly self-explanatory; and a decent enough distraction, it’s the Perfect Trajectory races where most of the fun’s at. You’ll race as quickly as possible across a section of track through a reasonably narrow set of cones; of course suffering a nasty time penalty if/when you career through them. It’s incredibly tricky, but if you can nail it, ultimately satisfying.
Visually it’s a little of a mixed bag, each and every bike looks incredible with a great attention to detail, especially considering the hundreds cosmetic changes you can make. In fact the level of customisation in general is fantastic. Not only can you deck out both your rider and bike with an untold amount of options, you can even decide in what style you’d like your rider to hang onto the bike around corners; I love this attention to detail. The environments are sadly the other side of the coin however. They don’t look bad by any means, just noticeably worse than the bikes. To be fair however; if I had to choose, I’d certainly place the emphasis on the bikes too.
Ride 2’s a fantastic racing simulator; everything works pretty much exactly as you’d expect, it’s just a tad on the clinical side. There’s no real, heart pounding excitement or adrenaline fuelled duels with the AI, they’re often too perfect a racer themselves; unfortunately this just adds to the game’s already niche market. For fans, then I can see this being a true, if slightly sterile joy. For car racing fans, it’s a little too different to instantly jump in and succeed. And most unfortunately, for everyone else, it’ll just be a little too niche.