Our resident Motorsport fanatic, Jean Engelbrecht, aka IceGamingRSA, is at it again with a review for Ride 4. Going from mainly 4 wheels to 2 wheels, let us take a look at what he found in this latest in the series.
Closing the visor on your helmet as you look at the fellow competitors around you on the grid, everyone looking as calm as possible, you put on a brave face showing the world you are in control….. Deep down you are nervous and afraid, yet ready, you look down, close your eyes and say your prayer. Slowly opening your eyes looking up and forward as the race is about to start. The agonizing wait for the lights to go out and start the thrilling chase down to the first corner…. The lights go out and you are off the line at an immense speed making sure that you keep the front end on the track while getting as much power down on the rear tyre without spinning and burning away rubber… Checking inside and outside lines to make sure you got the best start possible. Turn 1 getting closer and closer as you see the markers flashing by, hitting the brakes as late as possible to get that extra inch of speed as you pass fellow competitors… Followed by the relief, exiting the first turn safely and still in control of the motorbike, exhaling for what feels like the first time since the lights went out.
First of all, WHAT A GAME. As someone that has never played bike games (well, let’s say this, I have played Moto GP 20 for about 2hours max, The last motorbike game I really played was an off-road game called MTX Mototrax) Coming from the racing scene of Forza Motorsport this has really won over my heart. It has a licensing grind to it that takes you back to the early days of Gran Turismo 1 on Playstation 1 where you needed a certain license to participate in certain races. The pain of mastering time on the track and missing out on gold medals with less than half a second… Over and over and over again until you master it. There is however some drawback on this, the frustration does not lie in the trying, it lies with failing and having to sit and wait for the game to go through its animations before you can start again. The animation alone is like 20 seconds and then interrupted by loading screens, yes more than 1.
The game itself is beautiful, the graphics….. Hats off…. They captured every angle from every bike and got it spot on in the game and comparing it to Ride 3 they have done an amazing job with it. There are over 170 bikes in the game and the attention to detail can be seen on each one of them. Each with customizable options from selecting different rims, painting the chain and even options to remove the mirrors and the licence plate giving it that sleek and stylish look. The bike itself can be designed to suit your personal taste and look, you can create your own livery to make you stand out from the crowd, this is not only on the bike, the rider outfit can also be designed to make you not only feel like one with the bike, but you can also look like your bike. Designs can be made or you can download a design shared by other creators. Forza Motorsport set the benchmark for designing your own liveries on your cars and Ride 4 has pulled out all the stops to give you that same feeling…. Do not feel embarrassed by using a downloaded livery, not everyone has that creativeness to create wonders on these games. There are some talented people in the world.
The amount of tracks available is enough to keep you entertained for a very long time. From the sunny side of Phillip Island (Australia) to the daring roads of Southern 100 (Isle of Man) to the neck breaker Cork Screw of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (USA), 30 tracks to keep you on the edge of your seat as you try and master each corner to get the maximum speed around them to try and beat world records. The one thing I find in these games that annoys me is that they add off-road vehicles and not cater to them. What is the use of driving Yamaha YZF 450 Supermoto and having to drive on smooth tarmac roads… These bikes were designed to do jumps and have maximum traction in muddy sections. For these specific bikes, I would have loved to see at least 1 or 2 motocross tracks to make sure you can push yourself to the limits of each discipline in the game.
Now….. to the most exciting feature of this game that I absolutely LOVE… They have included endurance racing in Ride 4, letting you set up a race from 20min to 24 hours of racing. Even with a running start where the biker stands on the other side of the road and runs across the track, jumps on their bike and off they go… the only thing I don’t like, this is animated with autoplay… This is the first time that endurance racing is introduced on a motorbike game and they have really captured the effects of having to pit for new tyres and fuel, you can even select the compound type of tyre you want to use.
Another amazing addition to Ride 4 is the weather dynamics…. Ohhhhh and this is so cool. Also, the first-time use on any motorbike game is changeable conditions, Especially with endurance races, you can start the race in clear daylight and the race transitions into the night with the effect of the sun going down and the same with sunrise. Another dealbreaker is the option to add rain, going from clear sunshine to rainstorms having to dive into the pits and swap from slicks to wets driving out and tiptoeing your way around the track to find grip yet still making sure your opponents do not pass you.
Handling is something to get used to, as for racing games you can drive on the game using controllers, wheels and in some cases even the keyboard. Car racing games can feel easier with the use of a wheel than on any other type of device, Covid-19 Pandemic has certainly helped the sim racing scene with a lot of people opting to purchase wheels even professional sports stars. Unfortunately for motorbike games, there is no such luxury. You will need to master the ability to control the throttle and brakes using a controller.
The one thing I feel they need to work on next is the AI. There is absolutely no ability from the AI to go through turn 1 safely. It is as if they are developed with the mindset of contact has to be made between the start and the exit of turn one. There is 0 AI awareness and they are set to drive this specific line and if you are in the way you get bumped out of the way. Bringing us to another point, falling off the bike, it seems there are only 2 types of animations with one body movement, either falls off or fly off…. And then it looks like a dead body dropping, like taking a doll and dropping it from the roof. This itself can be found hilarious and be laughed at for hours and hours.