Milestone SRL’s Ride 4 is out on the 8th October and if you enjoy all things motorbike as well as playing racing sims then this game is for you!
Ride 4 sees you select from any one of 30 tracks and roads as well as pick out your insanely engineered choice of over 230 licensed two-wheeled rockets to ride on. For a series that has been going since 2015, there is clearly enough of a fan base to keep on evolving the game, attracting loyal fans and newcomers alike.
Ride 4 features a whole host of game modes to keep you entertained, from career, race, time attack and endurance to online multiplayer. I will say that at the time of writing that the multiplayer feature was not currently active as the game had not been released yet. Overall the menu is easy to navigate and you can get racing in no time.
The career mode is a single-player forage into the fast and furious sport and is played out across a number of leagues, namely; Regional, World and Final. Starting your early days as a racer in the European regional league, you must work your way up through the ranks by winning races and scoring points in order to unlock further cup and exhibition events. Your overall progression also goes towards unlocking the other leagues which in turn gives you access to a further vast selection of high adrenalin events to compete in.
While taking in glorious historic tracks such as the likes of Donington, Mugello and Nürburgring, the frenetic competition is on as you pit your wits with the other riders, all determined to take that top spot. Can you win those cups and unlock the Final league? The pressure is on.
When selecting each event you can choose from a number of options such as bike setup, riding aids and tyres. If you are into your setups then you can fully adjust all of your suspension, transmission and calibrate the brake acceleration modules. The riding aids are exactly as they sound, allowing you to alter items such as onscreen visuals for achieving that riding line, as well as alteration of the AI difficulty and level of realism.
As a sim, Ride 4 is fairly unforgiving. Even though you can change the realism of the physics depending on whether you want to have an easier ride with less to worry about such as tucking in and shifting your weight back and forth, having the physics set to “realistic” really tests your joypad skills. You will quickly find out that any hard pressure on the stick to lean the bike left or right sends the biker and their weight to that side a lot faster than you may anticipate, causing you to snake before 9 times out of 10 stacking it off the track. Crash animations are fairly spectacular I can assure you, I had many during the writing of this review! It is also worth noting that should you even gently touch the grass on the side of the track you will suffer an invalidated lap or penalty. I found that this is something that can sharply end an event if you are not careful for that one split second. There is a handy rewind option that allows you to go back in time slightly and correct that monumental cockup however it is disabled in the career mode. Being a sim you also must keep an eye on your tyre wear if active otherwise you will be sliding on your leathers before you know it.
When on the grid, you can feel the intensity of it all as the countdown begins and the beads of sweat start to drip down your neck. Will you get a good start? will you make it through the pack safely before the first corner? The roar of the other riders and their machines burst into life as the lights turn green and the front wheel picks up slightly from the ground as your bike accelerates across the tarmac.
Getting the cornering correct can be tricky. I ride bikes and I still somehow managed to end up taking corners wide through not watching the speed I was hurtling along the track at. Understanding where the braking zone is for each corner based on the bike is down to you, there certainly is a learning curve, as there is with every racing sim. You can turn on a racing line indicator that guides you through each turn, warning you if you are travelling too fast, however even if you get the correct speed you still need to ensure that your rider is in the correct position to get the bike around the corner, knee to the tarmac. The physics feel very real! Change the weather to rain and you will see the back wheel trying to slide out if you power on too soon, another thing to master!
The load up times on Ride 4 are very fast in my opinion with each event taking around 10-15 seconds for me. I did note that this was one of the complaints from previous Ride games, thankfully here it looks like it has been addressed.
Talking of details, the licensed motorbikes are really something else! Every nut, bolt and faring has been lovingly replicated using laser and drone scanning to make the bikes look as authentic as possible. When purchasing a new machine from the shop it really is a thrill as the bike is shown off to you in all its glory, presented in front of a black background.
If buying and upgrading bikes is your thing then you will be pleased to know that there is a whole garage section that lets you buy new parts to further enhance the performance and control of your bike. Even the rider can be customised right down to the goggles!
Ride 4 is on par with the likes of Forza and GT Sport when it comes to graphics. All of the tracks look amazing as you thunder around them, as does each of the 230 highly detailed motorbikes.
The choice of camera position when racing really brings you into the action allowing you to view the racing both from the handlebar as well as from behind the visor which was really atmospheric, especially with how the sound was muffled to represent the helmet surrounding your head.
The photo mode lets you capture your action from any angle you can imagine as well as render the snapshot with various filters, frames and ISO levels to give that motion blur of you in action.
Finally, I must mention the day/night cycle and dynamic weather. It flows through so well during racing and looks totally amazing. Remember the weather isn’t just for show, it does affect the whole ride!
Let’s face it. It’s all about the engines! and I am happy to say that Milestone has pulled this off very well. From the distinct low guttural growl of a Harley Davidson to the high pitched scream of a Yamaha racing down a straight, Ride 4 sounds pretty awesome.
There is ambient music that accompanies the menu screens, which is nice, however, that is purely there to fill the void before the fantastic hogs roar once more!
If you love racing then there are so many options to keep you going for a long, long time. The career mode itself and its cup progression mechanic will keep you determined to move forwards and get all of the available leagues and events unlocked. To put it into perspective, you need 40 cups on your shelf to unlock the World superbike league. There are 30 different tracks to race and time trial on as well as the endurance mode to test your nerve. Couple all of that with the online multiplayer lobbies and the sky is pretty much the limit as you ride to earn those credits and buy new machines.
Ride 4 is brilliant and frustrating all at the same time. It has a very steep learning curve and I would of enjoyed having a riding school feature, similar to that found in GT Sport just so that I could get used to the handling of the bike a bit better, such as understanding the front and back braking methods when racing, the various electronic options that you can alter on the fly, as well as other strategies that you may not be aware of as riding on motorways and town don’t necessarily utilise them.
Although you can simplify the game right down, I felt that it is a tough game to gain the confidence to then up the realism without looking online for guidance. That said, I really felt that I was racing on the seat of my pants. With all of the options that you can tweak, Ride 4 will allow even the novice rider confidently take an R1 down the tarmac, or at least to the first corner.
There are two editions of Ride 4 available, standard and special. The special edition will feature a steel-book dedicated to the iconic Yamaha R1 2020 as well as a season pass with an additional 65 new bikes, 2 tracks and 150 new events.
If you love motorbike racing, Ride 4 is for you, just be aware that like any motorbike it can be an unforgiving soab if you get it wrong on track. Ride 4 gets the Thumb Culture gold award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.