Milestone has become a favorite development studio of mine over the last couple years because the folks there continue to expand and improve upon their library of titles. The developers do a wonderful job of consuming community feedback and implementing as much as possible, as evidenced by Ride 4 basically being built from the ground up. In the past, each Ride title has improved upon the last, so does that trend continue here? Let’s find out in my Ride 4 review.
What I Like – Ride 4 Review
With over 170 different bike variations in the game, the ability to make each one feel authentic and unique is a pretty daunting task, but Milestone has accomplished that.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I have been on every bike in real life to actually quantify that statement, but I can safely say that Milestone delivers a unique experience on enough bikes that I felt I needed to adjust and understand how each bike reacted and performed.
Beyond that, the point is I could feel the difference when I was hitting the track with a Ninja ZX, a Harley Davidson XG750A or a Ducati Monster 1200s, which is what Milestone claimed, what I hoped for and what was delivered in-game.
My advice after spending multiple hours with Ride 4 is to take each bike that you’re struggling with and hit a track like Utah International or Road America. In essence, these are track types that offer a variety of long stretches to open your bike up and can also be very technical to help you understand the proper braking and “lean” techniques.
There is a learning curve with each bike when you first hit the track with it and there is no cheating the system. Either you are willing to take the time to learn how each bike handles or you’re not, and this is important when it comes to certain time-attack and track-test challenges that will come your way in career mode — plus your overall enjoyment of the game as a whole.
As with many of Milestone’s games, the heart, and soul of the title, for me at least, is the career mode. I spent most of the time inside the created world from Milestone and had a blast doing so. There is real substance here, and for those who are familiar with the Gran Turismo series, it will give off vibes very similar to that.
Career mode starts off in a regional location where you take on some of the best tracks that area has to offer. You will need to prove that you can handle multiple bike variations the game has to offer, and you do so on the track by racing for a podium spot, a time attack or a technical showing of your skill.
Throughout your career, you will also be tasked with several special events and challenges, and of course multiple races on different types of bikes and tracks. Some of these skill challenges are maddeningly difficult, while others really are just an opportunity to showcase your ability on a new bike in a new way.
Career mode is a deep experience that keeps things moving forward by offering multiple options to increase your rating and add money into your pocket. This is important because the game offers a solid upgrade system for each bike, and the upgrades can be the difference in succeeding or struggling to accomplish your goals.
Not everything is perfect in career mode as the presentation is rather bland, and the AI riders — while solid for the most part — can make some interesting choices that will impact you and your race in a way that is not so favorable. This is also where the “rewind” option (R1 on PS4) comes in handy.
Even with some of the AI and presentation issues, the career mode in Ride 4 was substantial enough and varied enough to keep my interest going for quite some time.
Tracks And Locations
With over 30 different track locations and some of the most iconic venues known to man, Ride 4 places you in the heart of these living, breathing locales. They also included enough detail to make me stop and take notice. Milestone had touted these upgrades in the weeks leading up to release, and it’s fair to see why the PR focused in on that aspect.
So, what’s so impressive about what they created and how they did it? I shall defer to them on this by mentioning that they “remodeled from scratch every aspect of the game, including tracks that have been faithfully replicated with the highest quality and attention to the smallest detail, thanks to Laser and Drone scanning.” They did so by “using the most advanced technologies and the original CAD and 3-D scans of real models, the most authentic and lifelike replicas of your favorite motorcycles, even the rarest and most exclusive ones.”
While a lot of that may come across as “back of the box” hype, it was quite evident from the moment I jumped on my bike just how much work they put in re-creating each track and its periphery.
Although the in-game graphics may not do the game justice, the day-to-night transitions in the game are done very well and add another level of authenticity to the experience. Even when blazing across tracks that are wide open, you can see the transition taking place in a subtle way that makes it feel completely believable and immersive.
When the press release stated “…for the first time ever, a complete and dynamic system for lighting and weather conditions has been introduced. Just like in real life, a race can start on a lovely sunny morning and finish in the middle of a crazy stormy night” I was, as I always am, a bit skeptical. Nevertheless, Milestone has created a wonderfully realistic system that other developers should try to emulate.
Standing on its own merits, day-to-night transitions are never going to make or break a game, but when you consider the whole package that Milestone delivers with Ride 4, its inclusion just adds another brick of success to the foundation of the Ride series as a whole.
What I Don’t Like – Ride 4 Review
Milestone utilizes the Unreal Engine, but for a game that is focused on so many incredible venues and eye-popping pieces of machinery, the graphical fidelity in Ride 4 is anything but eye-popping. I hate to compare titles, but when you see racing games such as F1 2020 and Dirt 5 and the stunning displays they pull off on the same screens and same console, it’s hard not to feel a bit disappointed.
It’s evident the amount of hard work, research and effort that was employed in regards to re-creating the locations and bikes themselves for Ride 4, and yet it’s not quite delivered in a way that emphasizes and promotes all the ins and outs of the re-creations.
On the PC, the game can look every bit as glorious as your machine can handle, so the details are there in one version — they’re just grainy looking on the console side of things.
While it’s a bit harder to complain about a non-officially licensed racing game lacking presentation, I still must do just that. Milestone has so many iconic venues and an amazing collection of bikes on display, so it would have been nice to see a bit more on the lead-in and post-race besides a few cutscenes and quick cuts of the bike(s) on the grid.
The same goes for career mode. The game does an acceptable job of creating a flowing path with clear objectives, but for such a deep mode, the presentation felt bland and somewhat underwhelming. This has been an issue for me with Milestone games for some time, and my hope is that with the next-gen systems dropping soon, we might see a revamped presentation model on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X systems.
Milestone went back to the drawing board in order to create Ride 4, and for those who are familiar with the series, it was well worth that effort. The game has an incredible array of bikes and tracks, and a career mode that had me losing hours and hours inside of it.
Ride 4 is accessible for people who have little knowledge of the world of bike racing or motorcycles in general, and that’s a huge plus. The series still looks a bit weak in the graphics department, but I am hoping the next-gen consoles will help negate that particular issue over the coming months and years.
In the end, Ride 4 is the type of game that offers up something for everyone and is the type of motorcycle racing title that can grab my interest for hours on end. Being as it’s sort of the Gran Turismo of motorcycle games, it might be the title that can do just that for you as well.
Ride 4 is available today for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. For those of you waiting for next-gen, Ride 4 arrives on the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 on January 21 and will be a free upgrade.