In 2015, the original Ride surprised a lot of people with what was essentially a Forza/Gran Turismo-esque riding experience, combining the exhilarating thrill of breakneck speeds and the life-scarring reactions offered by realistic ragdoll physics.
Developer Milestone S.r.l managed to ride a hefty wave of criticism offered to the first game, and Ride 2 definitely comes out better because of it – common gripes such as lack of bike variety (the sequel features over 200 bikes from 15 different categories opposed to the 4 categories in the original game) and exceptionally unforgiving mechanics, left seasoned speed freaks wondering if the ‘simulation’ nature of the game might have been too involved. This is thankfully alleviated by offering a plethora of options and tweaks to allow a little more video-gamey style control, for those of us that aren’t true biking masters and are perhaps sick of abusing the games rewind feature to retrieve our broken bodies from many a beautiful hillside.
Bikes in the game are beautifully modelled, and many an uninformed Google search astounded me to the level of detail that has been poured into each. In the past my father had a Honda CBR1000RR, so discovering it in this game prompted me to really scrutinise it. Much to my novel delight, I personally could not fault the thing as a bike enthusiast (novice level). The environments however, though attractive, suffer alongside some of the other hyper-detailed racing/vehicle options in the market today, with some textures looking oddly out of place and ground clutter standing out for all the wrong reasons. At exceptionally high speeds it’s hard to really notice, but in many cases the real criticism is that the game looks unrealistically clean, meaning a lot of surfaces come across with a slightly plastic-y finish that distracts you at times – though you may be too busy getting angry at the AI opponents to truly care.
The AI in the game is bullshit. I’ll say it right here, right now, and I care not what people think of me. Every beautiful run of straight road where you can finally let the throttle out and truly turn into a two-wheeled missile is astoundingly prone to a swarm of AI opponents passing you with relative ease. It is enough to make me question if there is some kind of catch-up mechanic in play to make sure a player is never truly alone on the road. Coupled with some controls being extremely sensitive it does put a lot of pressure on you at times.
Track-wise, you have yourself a tasty 30 tracks alongside 11 gameplay modes, meaning that variety is definitely not lacking. The real-world tracks are also faithful recreations, including minute details like particular hillside views, or specific railings and overpasses. If your intention is to simply cruise and enjoy the views, you are very well equipped to do exactly this.
Unfortunately the single player ‘campaign’ as it were lacks a lot of variety. There are easily over a hundred events, which will take dedicated players hours upon hours to complete them all – but it quickly becomes apparent they all repeat fairly heavily. If you enjoy the basic system of fighting crazy AI on your crotch rocket, you’ll be fine – but if you seek some really varied experiences you won’t find it here.
It’s apparent that Ride 2 has found its footing within a realm that can be best described as ‘Forza for Bike Fans’, which at some level could be described as derivative – but given the genre and the mostly lacking competition it really is a niche that it can comfortably fill.
Reviewed on Xbox One