God, I loved Gran Turismo. I still remember the first time I played it. It wasn’t on my radar, as I was never a real “gearhead”, but I received the epic racing sim as a gift and instantly fell in love. For its time, it looked amazing, had a ridiculous amount of content, and was fun as hell. But the best part was the amazing sense of accomplishment and reward. Winning races to pay for car parts to win more races to unlock new cars. The pacing was relentless and perfect. There was always a reason to start one more race.
I know this isn’t a Gran Turismo review, but developer Milestone knows that to truly shine and reach new heights, one must stand on the shoulders of giants. Does Ride 3 shine as brightly as the daddy of all racing sims? Does it bring that same excitement and addictive gameplay to the world of motorcycle racing? Did they right the wrongs from the previous installment? Keep reading to find out.
Ride 3 is stuffed to the handlebars with bikes, over 230 of them actually, and more real-world tracks then you probably knew existed. You can jump right into those bikes and those iconic race tracks in the Quick Race mode if you like, but let’s be honest – that’s not why you drop your hard-earned cash on a racing simulator. No, the fun here is to create a pro rider, buy a bike, fix it up, and test yourself in the Career Mode.
As I mentioned, the Career Mode borrows heavily from those classic Gran Turismo titles, from the gameplay to the upgrade system, down to the layout of the Career Mode screens. Everything felt comfortably familiar here. A much steeper than necessary learning curve at the beginning threatens to derail the fun in an otherwise enjoyable career mode, but I’ll dive deeper into that in a moment.
The bikes look fantastic, especially in the garage, and the photo and video mode, but they look pretty good flying around the track as well. The detail to each of these bikes is remarkable and really speaks to how visually striking a cool motorcycle really is up close. The race tracks don’t hold up to the same scrutiny, especially as you get farther from the road, but that doesn’t mean they look bad, just not as good as the bikes. They may not look as great as the motorcycles, but they look damn good, whether you’re racing under the sun, or under the lights.
The music, on the other hand, is mostly forgettable. It’s not grating, but it doesn’t exactly pump you up either. It even skips repeatedly during the many and extremely long loading screens, which only brings attention to how long and frequent the loading screens are in Ride 3. Thankfully, the bikes all sound appropriately meaty and unique, which is impressive considering the absurdly large number of bikes here.
As I said, there is a fairly steep learning curve in Ride 3. Much like in real life, it is harder to race on two wheels than it is on four. I may have spat a few (hundred) four-letter words each and every time another rider would clip my back wheel sending me ass over elbows while trying to win the final race in a series. It’s not just that it’s harder to race motorcycles, but I noticed something else as well. Even after completing every bike upgrade available for the first few motorcycles I owned, they were never head and shoulders better than my fellow riders. Meaning, at the beginning of the game, when they are trying to hook you, you’re going to be losing a lot. The AI doesn’t make many, if any, mistakes, which means if you aren’t faster than your opponents, you’ll need to be perfect too.
Heaping on the frustration early instead of allowing us to scrape together a few bucks while we lose early to purchase a few important upgrades seems to miss the point of this type of game. Getting a little bit closer to winning each time you make an important upgrade, until you’re fast enough, where you don’t have to be perfect, is what makes this formula so good. You get better at the game naturally, because it’s too fun to put down. Or maybe I’m just a slow learner, because once I got a handle on how to, eh, handle these two-wheeled beasts, the game really opened up for me.
What kept me coming back for more was the career mode. It is insanely deep, with countless (and varied) tournaments, a buttload of bike mods and adjustments, and the thrill of unlocking a new bike each time you win one of the many tournaments. There is also a multiplayer mode included, but the headliner here is the fully loaded, flawed-but-fun Career Mode.
If the much too frequent, and much too long (minute average) load screens, plus the questionable pacing issues don’t turn you off before Ride 3 gets its hooks in you, there is a lot of fun to be had here. Motorcycle fans should love this game, because it’s clear the team behind it love motorcycles a great deal. I think there is plenty here for typical racing sim fans as well, but it probably won’t pull in the casual gamers and race fans like the giant that Ride 3 was so clearly inspired by.
Ride 3 PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.0/10
Despite the excessive load screens and the uneven pace early in the Career mode, the tried and true formula here still works to pull me in. The racing is difficult but rewarding, and grinding through an unbelievable amount of motorcycles and upgrades should satisfy even the pickiest two-wheeled aficionados.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using a base PS4.
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When Jeremy isn’t writing books or playing video games, he’s living his life one random movie references at a time.