Ride 3 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Tomas Barry 15.01.2019

Review for Ride 3 on PlayStation 4

The racing connoisseurs Milestone has had a busy year. Ride 3, which is the third instalment in its flagship bike racing franchise, is the developer's fifth release of the year, following its new IP, Gravel, Monster Energy Supercross, MotoGP 18 and MXGP Pro. Most of the Italian studio's franchises have been transitioning over to the Unreal Engine 4 platform, and Ride 3 is next on the list. After two rather lacklustre entries in the Ride franchise, a third instalment that finally provides a more polished experience would certainly make up for that. Furthermore, considering there's so little competition in the two-wheeled domain, a project that caters for fans who crave a current-generation Forza-equivalent could be a huge success. With more than 230 bikes, 30 historical and contemporary manufacturers, and seven different categories of bike, Ride 3 seems well equipped to be one of the best virtual motorbike experiences around!

While it could be argued that Milestone is a little better known for the pace at which it pumps out racing games than for the actual quality of its titles, it has made some stellar racers when it's allowed itself the appropriate development time, as with Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo. So far, however, the team has struggled to find a successful formula for racing on two wheels. Then again, with only a year separating the release of the original Ride and its sequel, Ride 2, perhaps that's unsurprising. Thankfully, Ride 3 has had some proper breathing space, allowing for some reasonably drastic overhauls and major improvements geared towards steering the franchise back on track. The first two entries in the Ride series certainly seemed to be underwhelming at best, with numerous weak points such as muddy visuals, motors that are indistinguishable, lacklustre physics and poor AI. The good news is that Ride 3 progresses things in various respects.

Screenshot for Ride 3 on PlayStation 4

The most apparent improvement is in the visual domain. Ride 3 is far from the pinnacle of graphics in racing games, but compared to its predecessors it's a dramatic step-up. The move to Unreal Engine 4 allows for some much better lighting, crisper and more vibrant textures, and more high-fidelity finer details, all of which enhances the visceral nature of the racing experience. Fans of the series will be pleased with this, considering previous efforts were very disappointing and washed out. The extent of the improvements is even clearer when racing in first-person. Adding to the enhanced sense of spectacle, Ride 3 finally features night-racing and varying weather elements. This helps the racing experience feel more dynamic and up-to-date. The title is more polished in other aspects, too, such as cleaner menus, better music and far better audio.

On the spectrum between sim-cade and full-blown simulator, Ride 3 leans heavily toward the former category. It's more of a Forza Motorsport than it is Assetto Corsa. Given how few two-wheel racers are out there currently, it makes sense for Milestone to lean towards the more all-inclusive side of the genre. The emphasis is on a wide array of bikes, from sport bikes to supermoto, and a huge range of different racing disciplines to jump between. The unfortunate caveat is that Ride 3 fails to distinguish individual vehicles in the same way that Forza and Gran Turismo does, so sampling all these different bikes is still nowhere near as rewarding as it should be. Thankfully, at least the different bike classes, like Maxi Enduro and Café Racer, each has authentic handling quirks. While it takes a very 'sim-cade' approach to driving, players still need to be very mindful of their braking, using the front and rear where appropriate, as well as very smooth throttle application. Otherwise the bikes will step out or tumble.

Screenshot for Ride 3 on PlayStation 4

Although the driving fundamentals haven't really evolved much with this iteration, Ride 3 is still a stellar middle-of-the-road motorcycle racer, since it strikes a decent balance between choice, accessibility and challenge. The driving experience is quite visceral, and while it's not ultra-realistic, it provides a robust challenge, even on the lesser-difficulty settings or when using assists. Reflecting this, the title features a rewind button, so players can revoke and retry their worst cornering malfunctions. This maintains the sense of flow and variety, although it will be frowned upon by anyone who was hoping for a more simulative driving experience. Unfortunately, Ride 3 still suffers from some other long-standing issues for the series, and has quirks that seem to crop up with a lot of Milestone's racers.

Screenshot for Ride 3 on PlayStation 4

In the physics department, crashes and contact still don't seem to be all that realistic or believable. The AI drivers seem to maintain their balance in too many high-speed contact situations, where the player falters immediately before they can react. It's too easy to obnoxiously scrape through a handful of drivers in the braking zone, somehow emerging without any damage or ill consequence. The ragdoll physics are also a little off on occasion, with strange (albeit comical) over-exaggerations, which lower the immersion levels. AI drivers do seem to be a little more robust this time around, but there's no point pretending that the remaining contact issues don't undermine this rather small modular improvement. What's more, the possibility of authentic high-speed crashes when racing on the edge is a big part of the thrill-factor. Until Milestone improves in this respect, the Ride franchise will remain flawed in its driving fundamentals.

However, one pleasing improvement is the amount of customisation and content. The single-player experience is substantial, and it's constantly rewarding the player in different ways for participating. Some bikes must be purchased, others are unlocked as race or progression prizes, which ensures something new is never too far off. There's also an in-depth livery creator, which allows players to create some truly unique-looking machines, as well as lots of upgrades and new parts to pursue, which work well as progressive targets and rewards for the grind. Unfortunately, though, Ride 3 doesn't carry the player through the single-player experience with the same gravitas as Forza Motorsports or Gran Turismo. Events just aren't streamlined or sequenced well enough, meaning it quickly starts to feel overly-grindy. This might have been remedied by more distinct individual motors, but it's a clear weakness in the package either way.

Screenshot for Ride 3 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Ride 3 is a definite improvement upon its predecessors in various domains. Of all of Milestone's recent projects, the move to Unreal Engine 4 pays off the most here. The previously washed-out visuals have been replaced by something more high-fidelity, bringing it up to par with the standards of other racers of its type today. It's more polished elsewhere, too, with distinctly cleaner menus, a better soundtrack, and crisper on-track audio. The title features an impressive range of different types of bike but, unfortunately, it's still difficult to discern any handling differences between bikes within the same class. It's a bit disappointing that Ride 3 doesn't step things up more in this department, but it's still a much better-tuned instalment. With not a lot of competition in sight, Ride 3 is something of a Forza-equivalent for bike racing enthusiasts, but there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Developer

MileStone

Publisher

MileStone

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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