A few years ago we got TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge, a game intent on bringing the madness of the real event to the medium of videogames for all us bike fans. It had some problems, but I wound up loving it nonetheless. Now, we’ve got a sequel. But what improvements has it brought? Is TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 2 a sequel worthy of standing on the podium?
If you aren’t aware the Isle of Man TT is a yearly even in which complete lunatics race motorbikes around the 37-mile long Isle of Man circuit which is made up of regular roads that get closed down for the race. That means the track winds through villages and up hills, with riders coming within inches of kerbs, lamp posts, houses and more. There are bumps in the surface, odd cambers and pot holes to contend with. To my mind it’s one of the greatest racing events in the world, and those who compete in it are certifiably insane. The track has claimed many lives and continues to do so. In a world of health and safety gone mad, the Isle of Man TT stands as a bastion of racing where those who seek adrenaline and the thrill of pushing themselves to the limit can pit themselves against the harsh TT circuit.
The thing that Ride on the Edge 2 does so well is the same thing its predecessor did so wonderfully: it’s fucking terrifying. The sense of speed is nothing short of brilliant, from the way the environment blurs to the whoosh of the trees, houses and lamp posts as you blitz past them at 180+mph. If that wasn’t enough you can’t let your attention waiver for a second because even a tiny bump in the road can shoot you off your bike like a gormless penguin being fired out of a circus cannon. On the full TT circuit a lot of time is spent absolutely flat out, and because the race takes place on real roads the video game also has all the little bumps, bends and barriers that can spell disaster. You basically never feel safe, and instead spend entire races on the very edge. It gets the adrenaline pumping.
With that said, the console versions of TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge 2 don’t communicate that sense of speed quite as well since even on a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X the game is locked to 30FPS. There’s still a good sense of speed, but it doesn’t come close to the 60FPS+ that you can get on the PC version, which performs very well. That extra smoothness when you’re hammering along the TT circuit or through some woodland in Ireland makes a huge difference, so I’d urge you to go for the PC version if you can.
It remains an unforgiving game, too, that is exceptionally willing to punish the slightest mistake with a crash. And I do mean slightest. Brush a curb, go a little too fast over a bump, try to change direction at the wrong time or hold the brakes too long and you’ll crash. There’s absolutely no rewind feature, so you need to either accept the lost time or restart the whole event which reduces your overall reward by 10% each time. It can feel harsh at times, especially since you’re going to hit barely visible bumps that throw you off with no way of stopping them other than memorizing their location. It’s a satisfying level of difficulty though, always managing to make you feel rewarded for your efforts. Sure, that little dip in the road that made you crash brings on an anger rash, but when you smoothly slide through series of beautiful curves before opening the throttle fully it feels intoxicating.
It helps a lot that the handling model has been improved since the first game’s fun but sometimes floaty and inconsistent physics. There’s a stronger sense of weight to the bikes and more of a feeling of being connected to the road that makes leaning into the corners more precise. It makes it easier to get into the way you need to drive these two-wheeled killers, carving big arcs through the corners. You also get more feedback when it comes to things like the front-wheel lifting. Obviously it’s still far from perfect – bikes are so much harder than their four-wheeled counterparts to recreate because they rely so much on the rider feeling every little movement, but with that said this is the best handling models for motorcycles we’ve ever got.
Outside the legendary Isle of Man TT itself there’s a handful of purely fictional tracks to consistently crash on. It’s a shame that developers couldn’t get the licences for races like the Northwest 200 to help bulk out the selection, but the imaginary tracks hold up pretty well and manage to feel like real places even if they aren’t nearly as awesome as the Isle of Man.
You’ll get to try these tracks in the career mode which attempts to bring a bit of structure to all the two-wheeled fun while also combatting the critics of the first game who felt it was lacking in content. Essentially it acts as a way to build toward the full Isle of Man event by forcing you to race in smaller one-offs and series in order to get to the TT proper. Along the way you’ll take part in races and time trials on portions of the full Isle of Man course, giving you a chance to memorize a few pieces of the mammoth 37-mile circuit. Mind you, if you’re anything like me you’ll forget it all and just have to wing it.
In short, the career mode is solid stuff, though certainly nothing special. But the upgrade and perk system stacked on top of it feels much less developed. Basically you can earn money and complete challenges to earn new parts for your bikes that will improve their performance, with parts coming in different levels. Whereas something like the F1 series has integrated its upgrades in the form of research and development and such, On The Edge 2 feels more tacked on and its hard to notice an actual difference in performance during races.
Likewise, the perk system sees you buying and earning perks that you can employ on a race-by-race basis. For example, the Swagger perk reduces the performance of your opponents simply because of your raw brilliance, while another perk gives you tyre warmers so that you can start the race with better grip. Using a perk costs perk points and/or money, and they can only be used once. It’s a good enough idea, but like the bike upgrades their impact feels minimal at best, at least until you get the higher level perks. Even then, it’s still easy to forget about their existence, and they feel at odds with the authenticity and realism of the rest of the game.
As for the A.I. you race against they are an improvement over their predecessors, but that’s like saying being kicked in the bollox once is better than being kicked in the bollox twice. Yes, it’s true, but it’s still not good. The other racers on the track are an inconsistent bunch, best demonstrated by the fact that you usually get one guy whose vastly quicker than everyone else while the rest of the field bumbles around like it’s their first ever race, or possibly even their first time on bikes. They can never really provide a proper battle on the track, either, like the A.I. in something like F1 2020 can. You won’t get those great back and forth fights where you trade overtakes from corner to corner. Because of that the time-trial events typically are the best because it’s just you and the open road.
And speaking of the open road there’s a bit of Forza Horizon’s exhaust fumes floating around TT The Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 2 in the form of a small, open world. It takes the form of a very compact version of Ireland, and within it you can find a few different types of challenge that unlock new bike parts and other goodies. It’s an intriguing addition to the series, though like the perks and upgrades it does feel somewhat tacked on rather than integrated fully into the game.
Also, the open world does have a strange side effect: many of the fictional races take lace on these roads, which is absolutely fine, but for some reason the mini-map doesn’t show you the track layout. No, instead the map shows you all the roads, making it utterly useless when you’re approaching a junction and have no idea where the track is going. It’s not a massive issue since you can always turn on the dynamic racing line, but what the hell? The map should indicate the coming turns. Simple as that.
There are some other minor quibbles I’ve got, though none of them are that serious. It’s a bit disappointing that there’s no real TT riders like Guy Martin in the game, for example. Guy Martin is one of my favourite racers of all time and it would have been awesome to see him on-track. It’s also a bit strange that there’s no practice sessions, which means your first batch of races are spent focusing less on winning and more on learning the tracks.
And finally you can head online for the expected multiplayer racing action where everyone is a lunatic intent on catapulting themselves and you into the environment. The connections seem stable, but I didn’t manage to put a lot of time into the multiplayer simply due to having an iffy Internet connection due to lots and lots of people being at home for some reason….hmm.
It’s not a monumental upgrade over the first Ride on the Edge, but TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 2 is without a doubt the best motorcycle game on the market. But that undersells it: there isn’t a huge amount of competition out there. Really, it’s just a bloody good racing game period. It has a superb sense of sped, excellent handling and features one of most exciting tracks in the world, recreated for our digital riding pleasure. It can be unforgiving and rough around the edges, but it’s also absolutely worth playing.
4 out of 5
Categories: Reviews, Videogame Reviews
Leave a Reply! Seriously, I'm lonely. Talk to me. Hello? Anyone?