RIDE has always been a little bit hit and miss with players and critics. The motorcycle racing series has tried twice to provide gamers with the opportunity to take to motorcycle racing in the current console generation, and in spite of a decent following has not quite been able to deliver upon the promise of high octane motorbike action. RIDE 3 has now arrived, but unfortunately yet again doesn’t quite convince as a definitive racing experience.
The core structure of RIDE 3 will be familiar to any of those who have played the likes of Forza in particular. Racers will be tasked with a number of different race options, upgrading their bikes and expanding their garage as they become more and more successful. It’s a tried-and-tested method of getting player engagement, as they track their progress through the sheer number of bikes owned and the number of race options available to them.
As a central focus, this works as expected. Players will never linger on one specific race mode, or one circuit, for long, instead moving on to other options before they have time to grow weary. This brings with it the same negatives that sometimes plague its peers, too, with a lack of substance or consistency that can make the player feel less like a seasoned veteran and more like a brief visitor to the world of motor racing.
Some games handle this better than others, however. The Crew 2 offset the short time and the variety of its races through framing the game as an open world playground, effectively making its taster sessions of different race modes into a feature of an America-themed motorsports theme park. Meanwhile, the sheer quality and excitement of the racing seen in the mainline Forza series has often been enough to stop players from getting bored, instead getting locked into that need to get better vehicles and upgrade the ones already owned in order to reach the next step of competition.
Unfortunately, RIDE 3 doesn’t quite hit this bar. Although not a bad game by any means, there’s certainly a problem with engaging the player in any meaningful way, and in part it comes down to the game’s awkward placing just an inch away from simulation play. Quite simply, RIDE 3 is ever-so-slightly stuck between arcade and simulation, and as such fails to find a home in either traditional form of racing game.
RIDE 3 generally lacks that sharpness and over-the-top bombastic nature that comes with the best examples of pick-up-and-play racing games, and these are two elements that should really come quickly to something with such an intensity as motorcycle racing. Everything feels a little bit too sluggish, with bikes not handling quite as the player might expect and top speeds that should normally leave players breathless instead seen almost as a default. Despite its promise, RIDE 3 doesn’t really deliver when it comes to a sheer, stylized racing experience.
It gets much closer when it comes to providing a simulation, but it still lacks the commitment that the likes of F1 2018 are able to provide. Players are unlikely to put many man hours into honing their individual motorbikes, and the races themselves do not lend themselves to the kind of tactical nuances that true motor racing statisticians would want. From a racing perspective, RIDE 3 fares better here, with at the very least players needing to maintain their concentration at all times to stay ahead of the competition.
Overall, though, RIDE 3 feels a little bit stuck in the middle ground, not giving players the freedom to let rip with absurdity that would never fly in real-life racing, but also not quite being grounded or deep enough to really take root with those who appreciate those kind of details. It’s a shame, as there are elements to the title that do work very well; racing around Brands Hatch is almost as exciting as it appears in real life, for instance, and players are likely to still feel a rush on the way to Paddock Hill bend.
However, these moments are few and far between. Racers can jump from circuit to circuit, perhaps enjoying the options available to them, but they are unlikely to ever quite fall in love with what the game offers. Perhaps it’s the floaty control around corners, or how it feels slightly sluggish to pull away at starts, but there is likely to be something that players find awkward about RIDE 3 that slightly undoes the good framework that it provides for motorcycle buffs.
That framework, though, is definitely a selling point. RIDE 3 boasts 230 bike models, and better yet provides these over seven different categories, including supermoto and the cafe racer category, which might be the most fun of the lot. Also of note are the circuits themselves, with 30 circuits spread out across 50 different race options, giving a new dimension to different tracks.
Some of these circuits look better than others, though. The night races, both in cities and at classic GP circuits are fantastic, adding a new dimension to gameplay and upping the intensity, but others can look quite bland, in a way that rival games have managed to avoid. The character models, too, aren't anything to write home about, although very little time will be spent focusing on these, and thankfully the bike models themselves are much better looking than those riding them.
In short, then, RIDE 3 can’t quite go the distance. Although still fun in bursts and with a variety that racing fans of the wider sport will no doubt appreciate, there’s a lack of depth that sells the game short, and it is unable to quite muster up the magic to take that final push. Although motorcycle racing fans should still get a kick out of it, it still finishes off the podium.
RIDE 3 releases on November 30, 2018, for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Screen Rant was provided with a PS4 download code for the purposes of this review.