Ride 3 25

Game:
Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: March 18, 2019

Ride 3 is a motorbike arcade racer available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Milestone has a history of exceptional sports games, although they have been especially prolific with multiple iterations throughout various forms of motorbike racing from SBK to MotoGP to Motocross. Can Milestone’s third entry into the promising Ride series noticeably improve upon its predecessors?

The game begins with some rider customisation that allows you to customise your rider data from your rider’s personal data including their gender, first name, surname, nationality and preferred difficulty. Gameplay starts with the opportunity to become accustomed to acceleration, braking and handling by riding the Ducati Panigale V4 around Laguna Seca Raceway in a race against 11 A.I. controlled opponents. Before entering into the first race of your career; you will start out with a choice of 4 motorbikes as your first bike, although they each have entirely unique attributes; therefore the player will have to consider their decision in the sense of if the motorbike is appropriate for their riding style.

Ride 3’s career mode has been restructured in comparison to the career mode from the two previous Ride games. You can start in the School of Speed Riding School for each of the four bike categories or alternatively begin on the first tier comprising of 9 entire sets of events referred to as volumes that are immediately available to race in providing that your chosen bike is eligible with the rules of the volume in order to enter and participate or hiring an eligible bike. However, in order to unlock the second tier of 9 volumes; the player must have earned 65 stars that gradually increases for each of the half a dozen event tiers, while each tier concludes with a special volume as a tenth set of events per tier, although a certain quantity of completed volumes is required to unlock the special volume at the end of each tier. Career mode culminates with a grand final that must also be unlocked by progressing through the tiers of career mode.

Additional variety is provided in the form of different event types such as 3 lap single races; night races; a longer distance single lap point to point race; drag races are knockout tournaments that requires the player to manually shift through the gears to maximise their top speed in order to cross the finishing line ahead of opposing riders in each round of the competition; multi-race championships; track days require a certain amount of overtakes within a set time limit with bonus time provided per overtake; attempting to set a gold objective fastest lap time in as many consecutive laps as the player wants to within time attack; and endurance is a test of consistency over a much longer race.

Quick Mode provides the opportunity of racing on a single track in a race against 11 A.I. controlled opponents with a selection of your chosen bike or alternatively purchasing or renting a bike in which renting will only be for the duration of the race and while it is free to rent a bike it cannot be upgraded or modified and will offer reduced prizes at the end of the event, alongside any of the 27 tracks and retaining the freedom to adjust the race length from 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 laps, A.I. difficulty, weather conditions and full customisation of riding assists to your ideal preferences. Another major feature of the Quick Mode is a drag race that challenges the player to manually shift gears to maximise your straight-line speed on one of three drag strips of 1,000 metres with optional weather conditions against three A.I. controlled opponents. Meanwhile, time trials return as you attempt to set your fastest lap time to post on the online leaderboards with a choice of a ghost time of your personal best lap time around your chosen track, alongside all of the customisable riding assists, weather conditions and the full quota of tracks to select from, although rather infuriatingly; leaving the track by a millimetre or even when entering a gravel trap or hitting the barrier will prevent your lap time from counting as a completed lap.

Ride 3 has 229 officially licensed bike models created by 26 motorcycle manufacturers including Aprilia, Benelli, Bimota, BMW, Cagiva, Ducati, Energica, Gilera, Honda, Horex, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Lightning, Magni, Moto Guzzi, Mr. Martini, MV Agusta, Norton, Paton, Sartorie Meccaniche, Suter, Suzuki, TM, Triumph and Yamaha. There are half a dozen bike categories including naked, maxienduro, supermoto, racing, supercustom and sport, although some bikes have to be unlocked by earning every star within a volume of events with further bikes and motorcycle manufacturers added via downloadable content.

Every bike has varying attributes including acceleration, top speed, handling, braking power, displacement, cylinders, engine stroke, maximum power, maximum torque and weight that can all be customised. Bike customisation is as expansive as ever, while staying true to the original Gran Turismo approach as the player starts off with the basic form of the bike before progressively improving it via a variety of categories including engine; gearbox; brakes and suspension; appearance; and wheels, alongside a race modification for certain bikes to be better tuned towards racing. Every category has its own components that can be upgraded with in-game currency referred to as credits that are earned by completing races as high up the field as possible, while the player begins career mode with one of four bikes and 10,000 credits worth of in-game currency. For instance the upgradeable engine components includes the electronic control unit, air filter, cylinder head porting, high quality oil, exhaust, friction reduction, racing pistons, racing rods and crankshaft balancing with every component within each category having the potential to increase acceleration, top speed, handling or braking power from their initial quality of around between 4 to 7 gradually improving towards the maximum quality of 10, alongside increasing the maximum power, maximum torque and some component upgrades even reducing the weight of the bike.

Bike design customisation is elevated another step further by allowing the player to utilise a livery editor in order to create a new paint job or colour scheme for their individual bikes followed by being shared globally with other players. However, as good as the livery editor can be if you persist with it and learn to understand it better; for some reason the player has to be online to use the livery editor at all that means you cannot create a livery while offline that naturally results in concerns if the livery editor functionality would be completely removed from Ride 3 if the online servers were ever turned off.

Ride 3’s track design retains the feeling of being on a truly globetrotting adventure for players with a dozen countries hosting at least one track depending upon the size of the country, while each track usually has multiple track variations for a total of 50 tracks that are quite exceptional as they blare the lines between outright speed and technical through precise cornering. Tracks and locations introduced to the franchise in Ride 3 includes Brands Hatch, Great Britain; Cadwell Park, Great Britain; Daytona International Speedway, USA; Laguna Seca Raceway, USA; Okayama International Circuit, Japan; Oulton Park, Great Britain; Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, Portugal; Imatra, Finland; Southern 700 Billown Circuit, Isle of Man; Garda Lake, Italy; The Snake, USA; and Tenerife, Spain. Tracks and locations retained from previous Ride games include Donington Park, Great Britain; Autodromo di Franciacorta – Daniel Bonara, Italy; Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Imola, Italy; Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, France; Autodromo Nazionale Di Monza, Italy; Nürburgring GP – Strecke, Germany; Nürburgring Nordschleife, Germany; Road America, USA; Sportsland Sugo, Japan; Autodromo Vallelunga “Piero Taruffi”, Japan; International North West 200, Northern Ireland; Ulster Grand Prix, Northern Ireland; Macau, China; Castelletto Circuit, Italy; and Pista South Milano – Ottobiano, Italy. However, there are a fair few tracks and locations that have not been retained from Ride 2 including Stelvio National Park and Milan, Italy; North Wales, Great Britain; Sierra Nevada and Miami, USA; French Riviera, France; Circuito de Almeria, Spain; Potrero de los Funes Circuit, Argentina; Kanto Temples, Japan; Hellenic Towers, Greece; Viking Valley, Norway; and Eastern Mountains, Indonesia.

Ride 3 introduces night time races for the first time in the Ride franchise; allowing the player to experience night time racing on around half of the tracks such as Daytona, Donington Park, Magny-Cours, Monza, Nurburgring GP – Strecke, Nurburgring Nordschleife and more besides. Meanwhile, wet weather conditions return for Grand Prix circuits and Street Grand Prix circuits, although rain is not available on any of the City Grand Prix, Street Circuit and Supermoto tracks; despite every track being available in sunny daytime conditions other than the City Grand Prix event located at Macau, China.

Bike setup can be changed prior to the start of the race that can potentially provide a significant performance advantage if you experiment enough in an attempt to absolutely perfect your bike setup for each track. Bike setup allows players to change the suspension by adjusting the preload for the front and rear of the bike; fork and single shock absorber for rebound and compression; and spring hardness compression for the front and rear. Meanwhile, gear ratios are customisable by selecting any quantity between 1 and 6 for all half a dozen gears and the final gear ratio, alongside a normal or aggressive brake register and a normal or fast throttle; and calibrating steering via steering head inclination and trail. There are options to save, load or delete your preferred bike setups and to return your bike setup to the default factory settings.

Players can further customise their rider from the My Rider menus as you can adjust your rider’s appearance with 5 faces, 5 haircuts and half a dozen beard designs for male riders or 5 faces and 5 haircuts for female riders; a home outfit including 8 shirts, trousers or pairs of shoes. There are five fully customisable racing outfits including two street event outfits, two racing event outfits and one supermoto event outfit comprising designs for dozens of crash helmets, visors, racing suits, gloves, knee sliders and boots, while the player has a free selection of racing number and font colour. Despite the extensive range of rider appearance customisation; the largest area of all within the rider customisation feature has to be utilising the riding style editor to meticulously create your own unique riding style. The riding style can be fully customised including the ability to choose a start preference of left foot, right foot or both feet; positioning your braking leg inwards or outwards; standard, shoulders out, elbow to the ground, body out, balanced and old school cornering; and leg out or knee supermoto cornering technique. However, the riding style editor is somewhat reduced in scale when comparing directly to the quantity of customisation options within Ride 2’s riding style editor such as when there were a series of 18 sliders between a maximum of 5, 10 or 20 in value that could be calibrated to your ideal preferences with every small alteration showcased via the rider positioned next to the customisation menu, alongside leaning posture, leaning aerodynamic position, additional gestures and victory celebrations.

There are five excellently positioned camera angles including the third-person camera closely positioned behind the rider accompanied by an additional camera angle positioned further back to provide two views of the bike and the track surface up ahead amongst the surrounding environments. There are three first-person perspectives providing a realistic and accurate representation of the cockpit including an LCD dashboard and speedometer to display your current speed, alongside the handle bars and crash visor, while there is another accurate portrayal of the cockpit albeit from the actual rider’s eye view looking out through the crash helmet with reduced peripheral vision, alongside a first-person camera that is positioned on the front of the bike looking outwards without showing any bodywork. There is no optional re-positioning of the camera angle to bring it closer to or further away from the bike as has been expertly utilised in WRC 4 on Vita and MXGP on PS3; allowing you to move a slide bar 20 clicks further forwards or backwards from the rider to customise a third-person perspective that is suited to your preferences, although the focus of both third-person gameplay camera angles can be rotated a full 360 degrees in order to look to the left, right or behind the rider.

Photo mode is available from the pause menu; allowing you to observe the closer details of the racing in the foreground and trackside environments. Photo mode is a really great feature; allowing the camera to be positioned with freedom within the vicinity of the racing action including extensive customisation of images such as panning, camera height, zooming in or out and anywhere from a minor tilt to a full sideways tilt, alongside the ability to hide opponents, position the logo in any corner and choose from a 16:9, widescreen 2.35:1 or square 1:1 display ratio; aperture and focus distance; exposure, contrast and brightness; and half a dozen masks over the picture, nine image filters and the intensity of the picture in a fully immersive environment that works in perfect harmony with the PS4’s share feature.

You can watch a full race replay with the ability to watch in slow motion, pause, fast forward, rewind, change the camera angles for a different view of the action and to view the action from the previous or next rider. You can view the replay from seven camera angles including a dynamic camera angle positioned away from the bike with the TV camera angle changing from camera to camera in the style of Gran Turismo, while there are all five gameplay camera angles, alongside another dashboard view mounted to the front of the rider’s crash helmet and a side mounted viewpoint that focuses on the right rear view mirror while showing the amount of load going through the bike particularly during excessive acceleration and under braking. It would have been amazing for the Gran Turismo style dynamic TV coverage to make the transition to being playable as you are riding, alongside gameplay and replay camera angles to include a helicopter camera angle from high above the circuit following the action with the sound effect of the helicopter in the audio mix.

There are multiple downloadable content packs available including 12 free packs that each contains one new bike and five new events that are gradually released from December 10th 2018 until July 29th 2019. Meanwhile, a season pass including a total of 120 new events and 60 new bikes releasing from November 30th 2018 until June 27th 2019 for a price of £32.99. The 120 new events and 60 new bikes are spread out over the course of 14 themed premium downloadable content packs comprising BMW R 1200 GS; Italy; Sport Bikes; two Best of 2018 packs; Supercustom; 2-Strokes; Top Performance; Japan; Limited Models; Naked Bikes; Racing; Back to Basic; and Street Racing. Most of the 14 themed premium downloadable content packs are priced at £3.99, although the BMW R 1200 GS pack is priced at £1.69 and the Sport Bikes pack costs £3.29.

It is disappointing not to see Milestone’s Ride 3, any of the Ride franchise or any of their recent games release on Vita since the release of MXGP and MotoGP 14 in 2014 after a total of half a dozen excellent retail releases on Vita, although remote play is a consolation. Ride 3’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance is the same quality as the PS4 version. Milestone’s remote play control optimisation has once again resulted in acceleration being remapped from R2 to the bottom right of the touch screen and braking has moved from L2 to the bottom left of the touch screen, although they would have been better suited to R and L respectively in the same approach as Milestone’s Vita native racing games, especially as you may have to lift your thumb from steering with the left analogue stick to brake. I had the best remote play experience with Ride 3 after customising the control scheme in which acceleration and braking was remapped to R1 and L1 respectively with rewinding moving to the bottom right of the touch screen or the top right of the rear touch pad and looking behind your bike moving from L1 to the bottom left of the touch screen or the top left of the rear touch pad; therefore providing a comfortable control scheme much better suited to the racing genre.

The controls are suitably mapped to the DualShock 4 controller and are fully customisable. The default control scheme consists of holding R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to use the front brake or reverse; pressing X to use the rear brake; pressing R1 to rewind following a crash or loss of direction; pressing O to manually shift up a gear; pressing square to manually shift down a gear; pressing triangle to tuck-in for the best aerodynamic positioning of your rider; moving the direction of the left analogue stick to the left or right to steer your bike in that direction; moving the direction of the left analogue stick forwards or backwards to appropriately distribute your rider’s weight; moving the direction of the right analogue stick to the left or right to pan the camera during the third-person perspectives; pressing L1 to view behind your rider; pressing up or down the d-pad to increase or decrease TCS; pressing the options button to display the pause menu; and pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu.

Despite the customisable control scheme; there is no way of mapping the steering to the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality and the touch pad can only be mapped to once instead of the left and right sides having their own purpose. It is surprising as the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality could have provided an alternative steering method to the left analogue stick, while the touch pad implementation is under utilised as it only changes the camera angle, whereas an optional control scheme from MotoGP 13 on Vita included tapping the appropriate side of the rear touch pad to shift up or down a gear. There is a lot of vibration from the DualShock 4 controller that certainly adds to the immersion of shifting through the gears, making contact with other bikes, running off wide into a gravel trap, scrapes with trackside barriers and crashes resulting in your rider struggling to hold onto his bike or falling off his bike. Whereas the light bar previously produced a variety of colours during differing stages of each gear shift in Ride 2; Ride 3 has unexpectedly removed all light bar implementation in favour of a standard blue light bar colour.

Graphically, Ride 3 introduces an all new Unreal Engine 4 graphics engine that elevates the realism to a previously never seen before height in the Ride franchise combined in harmony with photogrammetry and drone scanning for each officially licensed track to present a full 1:1 representation of its real world counterparts from accurate track undulations at Laguna Seca Raceway to inch perfect corners. Meanwhile, enhanced lighting effects bring night racing to the forefront of graphical excellence as the front headlight of a bike that is in closer or further proximity behind your bike will increase how bright your rider’s racing outfit is, while the red visibility light on the rear of your bike is reflected on the darker track surface as stars shine in the night sky to provide a brilliant contrast between imminent foreground details and distant focal points. Weather conditions have also been improved with better surface reflections in puddles of water reflecting the surrounding environments, alongside more realistic spraying of water on each camera angle. However, there is shadow pop-in that essentially reshapes shadows as your bike arrives closer to them. PS4 Pro and Xbox One X support provides a 60 FPS mode for a consistent increased frame rate, while PS4 and Xbox One perform at 30 FPS, alongside HDR support.

Ride 3’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, career mode menus, quick modes menus, online multiplayer menus, weekly challenges menus, online leaderboards, livery editor menus, my rider menus, my bikes menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, while the camera can be panned around a bike model within the showroom, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on panning and rotating camera angles of your chosen motorbike and rider within the rider’s home. Loading screens are complimented by a detailed history of the bike you are riding being displayed on multiple pages for the player to read at their leisure.

Natural and informative voice-overs introduce new gameplay elements such as choosing your first bike and event categories are rather helpful and effective. Authentic sound effects including bike engines revving that changes based upon the bike the player is riding and how many bikes are immediately situated around your bike, applying brakes, collisions and ambience such as aerodynamic air funnelling through narrower or wider tracks and a noticeable difference in audio when riding via the rider’s eye perspective, alongside instrumental rock music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation, although it could have produced any layer of audio such as bike engines, collisions or ambient sounds during races or even voice-overs or music during menus and introductions.

The trophy list includes 51 trophies with 38 bronze trophies, 10 silver trophies, 2 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy, although there is a further bronze, silver and gold trophy for each of the seven downloadable content packs totalling to an additional 21 trophies. Over half of the trophies are skill related as 26 bronze trophies and a silver trophy involve winning a race on a particular track in quick race or career mode, while a further 3 bronze trophies and 2 silver trophies for winning a race in wet weather and night time conditions in quick race or career mode, alongside winning different event types within career mode. Easier trophies include the A Good Start bronze trophy for racing a total of 100km and The First Mile bronze trophy for unlocking your first Milestone, while the hardest trophy is the Peak of Success gold trophy for completing the final volume of the career. Meanwhile, there are three online multiplayer trophies including two bronze trophies for completing one race and 10 online races, alongside a silver trophy for completing 20 online races. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 20 to 25 hours to platinum the trophy list.

Ride 3’s mostly follows Milestone’s usual approach to difficulty levels and physics. There are half a dozen difficulty levels including learner, rookie, standard, expert, champion and extreme with the major differences between difficulty levels being the A.I. will become gradually more clinical with each step up in difficulty as they will wait for an appropriate overtaking opportunity and capitalise on any mistake you make. There are further factors involved in the difficulty level besides the A.I. as there are three physics settings including assisted, normal and pro that increase the corresponding difficulty curve as the three physics settings each provide totally different handling. Assisted physics feel more arcade oriented with a much lower chance of crashing when you have become accustomed to the handling, while the normal physics strikes a balance between assisted and pro physics as the pro physics are far more realistic and fully depend upon you perfecting the weight distribution of your rider’s lean angles and braking accurately throughout every corner of the track. The rewind mechanic can reduce the difficulty by having numerous opportunities to rewind back to before a crash occurred. Between the half a dozen difficulty levels, three physics settings and plenty of riding assists that can be turned on or off; players have full customisation over the degree of challenge they wish to encounter in any single player mode as well as the difficulty for A.I. controlled riders, physics, gear shifts and riding assists in online multiplayer.

Rather inexplicably, instead of Unreal Engine 4 helping to improve the Ride franchise’s split-screen multiplayer performance; Ride 3 follows the trend of MotoGP 18 by not actually featuring any split-screen multiplayer component.

Online multiplayer supports 2 to 12 players, while players have the ability to vote on their preferred bike category and track in preset weather conditions, although there does seem to be a bit of lag during online multiplayer races. Meanwhile, weekly challenges involve riding a specific bike around a particular track during preset weather conditions in an attempt to set a time faster than the gold objective time, while there are ghost times to actively compete against, alongside online leaderboards showcasing each player’s fastest lap time during that week’s challenge.

Ride 3’s replayability stems from a plethora of event types situated throughout 10 volumes worth of events per tier for half a dozen tiers and a grand final, alongside quick race modes and 229 bikes from 26 bike manufacturers with full performance and appearance customisation. Elsewhere, Unreal Engine 4 produces better graphics and lighting with the introduction of night races, while there is also levelling up and unlockable milestones, alongside online multiplayer and weekly challenges that will collectively have players returning for a substantial quantity of gameplay. However the lack of the previously featured split-screen multiplayer from the previous two Ride games reduces the replay value of Ride 3 in comparison to what it should have been.

Analysis
• Title: Ride 3
• Developer: Milestone
• Publisher: PQube
• System: PS4
• Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1/2-12 (Online Multiplayer)/Livery Editor User Generated Content/Online Leaderboards
• Hard Drive Space Required: 24.68GB (Version 1.10)

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