Ride 5 review: Going full throttle past the checkered flag
Ride 5 is the newest entry in the world of motorbike racing. Developed by Milestone Studios, this title gets almost everything right, right off the starting line. Although virtual motorbike racing does seem more intimidating when compared to it's four-wheeled counterparts, it's more thrilling once you get a hang of it. When it comes to this sport, one is immediately drawn to titles like MotoGP, which also comes from the same developer.
Although that title is aimed at a more seasoned player base, Ride 5 is aimed at those who are just getting started or want to have a experience a casual yet thrilling motorbike racing simulator.
While I did find a few drawbacks here and there, Ride 5 is a gem of a game and is a must-try for all motorcycle enthusiasts out there! Without further ado, let's lean into the review.
Ride 5 takes the adrenaline rush of track racing and brings it to your gaming devices
I'm a bit of a motorbike enthusiast myself, and I was more than excited to get my hands on Ride 5. When I first stared the game, I didn't really know what to expect, considering that I hadn't played any of the other titles in the franchise so far. Even if you're playing this game on a PC like I did, it's best that you use a controller while playing. It's just easier that way.
You can try using your keyboard to race, but it's difficult to control the bike while navigating through the corners. I've tried it with both, my controller and my keyboard, and found using the controller more convenient. So it's more or less down to what you prefer to use.
There's an autosave feature that automatically synchronizes your progress with the cloud so you don't have to manually save your game. This is, however, a doubled-edged sword. While it does save you the trouble of manually saving and prevents you from losing your progress, you can't start a new run either. But then again, it's not that big of a deal.
When you first start the game, you will participate in a race against an AI opponent. Both of you will be on a motorbike with the same engine volume (cc) so that the playing field is even. It'll be a two-lap race and based on your position, you will be rewarded with your starter bike.
Once you're done with this segment, you will be thrown into the career mode, where you can pave your path to become the pro-racer that you've always dreamt of becoming. You will start off with the 250cc segment and will slowly make your way through different leagues. You'll earn bigger and faster bikes as you keep adding trophies to your shelf.
Overtaking is hard in Ride 5, but accurate braking is harder
When it comes to racing cars, you can quite literally play bumper cars with the others on the track and knock them out of your way. If you try to do the same on the track with your bike, you'll either receive a time penalty, or you will get thrown off your bike, or both.
You will also receive a time penalty if you cut corners. So even if you finish first, the time penalty that you collect will be added to your cumulative lap time. After that, if the person who has finished second in the race has a total lap time that's quicker than yours, they'll be placed above you.
When you're on the track, you'll be able to see a marker that indicates the fastest line through a corner. If you stick to this line, you'll be able to shave some precious seconds off your lap times. And for that, you will have to know when to brake.
While you're on the track, you will notice small boards on the ground with markers starting at 150, diminishing by 50 as you approach a turn. Don't ignore these because these are your braking markers. Time your brakes based on these and you won't overshoot a turn. Just like in the real world, the brakes are your best friend in Ride 5.
Rider personality and riding aids bring this motorbike racing sim to life
Ride 5 is a perfect embodiment of the statement, "It's not the bike that matters, it's the rider." Every racer on the track has a unique riding style and just like you, they make mistakes too. What's more interesting is that they react to your position on the track as well, adapting to how you choose to drive around them.
As you complete races, you will notice that there's a name highlighted in red on the leaderboard. That is your rival, and your goal will be to place above them in every possible race. Although this sounds simple, it's not that easy, because your rival will always manage to outmaneuver you. So you will have to ensure that you're maintaining proper lines and making use of the slipstream if there's someone in front of you.
If it gets too technical, you can always head into the race menu and choose to toy around with the various driving aids available to you. If you're new to the world of sim racing, it's best if you leave each and every riding aid on. If you're looking for a challenge, turn them off and hit the track. Personally, I'd recommend that you turn all riding aids off once you've grown accustomed to the bikes. That's when the real fun begins.
While in the race menu, you can also customize different parameters with respect to the bike. This will directly affect how your bike reacts on the track. Also, there's no "one size fits all" policy with the tuning here. Every bike is unique, so if you want to make the most out of it, you need to get a feel of it first. Understand how it reacts while moving through corners and on straights, and then go ahead and make adjustments to the tunes.
What Ride 5 lacks in the audio department, it makes up for with stunning visuals
Ride 5 is as realistic as any other racing simulation game. The graphics are beautiful and very pleasing to the eye. Every single motorbike shines (quite literally) and you can customize how they look as well. The same holds true for your character too.
As for the track and the overall environmental visuals, Milestone has done an impeccable job at recreating real-world weather conditions with ease. From volumetric clouds to grass and gravel lining each and every track, it feels as though you're on a real track rather than a videogame.
But, there's no voice acting. So even though you're going up against rivals as you progress through the career mode, the lack of voice acting can be felt. While it's not that important a feature, having some sort of voice acting could have added that sense of rivalry. Otherwise, the rivals feel like a red name highlighted on the leaderboard for no reason whatsoever.
Virtual motorbike racing gets very real with Ride 5. It's not as technical as MotoGP, but it's a perfect place to start off, if you're willing to get into the world of virtual sim racing with respect to motorbikes.
From performance customizations to dynamic weather conditions that directly affect how your bike performs on the track, it's very hard for any biking enthusiast to not like this game because everything feels so real! Yes it lacks a bit in the audio department, but I will keep coming back to this title over and over again because of the racing experience.
Ride 5 also brings back the split-screen co-op, also known as couch co-op, which is a nice way for you to go head-to-head with a friend. It doesn't matter if you're a newbie or a racing-sim veteran, Ride 5 has something for everyone!
Reviewed on: Windows PC (Review copy provided by Milestone)
Platform(s): PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC (Steam)
Release date: August 24, 2023