Ride 4 PS4 Pro Review: Milestone Games have now become synonymous with Motorcycle Racing games in one form or another, whether that be on the race track or on a dirt track. Their list of games over the last few years now includes the likes of Monster Energy Supercross, MXGP and MotoGP. It is also safe to say that on the whole, their track record in this field has been pretty good but not solid.
Although, as I have said in previous reviews, I haven’t always been a fan of Motorcycle racing games, over the last few years they have really grown on me and would now class myself as at least better versed in their mechanics than I was. As for the Ride series, I haven’t touched them since I bought the first game in a sale at my local Game store and was still left feeling cheated out of my £4.
I was hoping after all this time that Milestone would have made massive advances in the series and I could finally enjoy my time. Alas, they seem to have made such great steps that the game has gone beyond the mark of being fun to play like their other titles and into the realms of virtually impossible for a beginner.
Ride 4 PS4 Pro Review – Initially..
For a lot of people, what Milestone have managed to do may not be a bad thing. They have tried to focus on simulation above all else here but instead of trying to stick to basics they have taken simulation to the nth degree. I found this out to my disappointment the second rubber met tarmac.
After getting past the basics of getting a lap in with the pretty much none existent tutorial I was left in charge of heading out on my career. The first thing I needed to do was to string a few corners together at Brands Hatch. The bike went flying off track on the first corner and I failed instantly. After the best part of 10 attempts I eventually managed to finish the first third of the course, but was too slow.
The issues are clear. The second your tires go even a millimetres off the track limits you fail and keeping the bike on track is not as easy as it may sound balancing your speed right as well as trying to figure out the far from responsive steering.
Here is where my first major issue with the game lies. We all know that the physics of racing Motorbikes is different to literally every other type of racing. It involves the weight transfer of the rider to get over the bike and help get themselves around corners. Compared to the likes of MotoGP this takes forever and the bikes are literally impossible to turn how you would expect them to.
The issue is that even on the easiest level settings, this game isn’t going to hold your hand and I was starting to get to the point of wanting to shut it off, delete it from my system and give up. I did persist however, over and over and over and over again. It is definitely one of those rage quit types of game but out of pure frustration of why it is unplayable for most.
I like a game that I can easily get into, Milestone have perfected that with a lot of their other titles, but Ride 4 feels awful. After the best part of 5 hours and numerous deep breath breaks I hadn’t exactly mastered the basics of the game, but did have enough knowledge to not constantly fall off my bike in a mangled heap of rider and physics at every corner.
Ride 4 PS4 Pro Review – Physics
Manoeuvring your bike around the course is more work than it needs to be. The bikes have weight to them. More than I have come across in any other game and the responsiveness feels like it is none-existent to your controller directional inputs. Once you do get your head around this you can start to get around corners and hairpins but I wouldn’t say ‘with ease’ at any point. There is too much planning ahead and starting to turn yourself way too early from what feels like it should be the right time.
The issue with these physics in the game is that I was having to tell myself to not listen to what the game was trying to tell me. There is an ideal racing line in place, but if you stick to that and follow breaking lines etc you will come off the track or the bike. It is easier to try and plot your own line around courses and considering I have learnt these racing lines on so many other games I was having to unlearn everything I have taught myself over decades of gaming.
Realism within the game is key to the developers it seems. Youre unlikely to be setting any lap records or flying round tracks faster than what you would in real life. Even though the speedo of my bike was indicating that I was racing at 150 mph, it certainly didnt look or feel that way in the game. It actually felt like I was out for a relaxed Sunday jaunt most of the time and I think that this was also something that threw me off a lot when it came to breaking and turning points.
You can easily revert to the options menu and turn on auto-breaking as well as a couple of other ‘helpful’ things, but they still don’t help with the game. I would expect auto-breaking to slow you down to a snails pace in corners allowing you to get frustrated that you are going way too slow in the corners, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t even feel like its working a lot of the time (although it obviously is) when it comes to figuring out a perfect breaking spot. Perhaps it was just me, I’m not sure.
Ride 4 PS4 Pro Review – A Niche?
The thing that Ride 4 offers is a serious niche for a limited number of gamers. I am sure that the series has got some fans over its 5 year life-span, but newcomers to the series will hate the game. Its not that I hated playing this game as such, but there was no fun or enjoyment involved whilst I was racing around various tracks. I could feel my hands tightening on the controller and getting sweaty the more I had to seriously concentrate on just staying on course.
The AI riders certainly don’t give you an easy time either. Even if you adjust the games sliders to their lowest levels I was struggling to compete with them. The newly implemented Neutral AI system which apparently learns from the player to get even better makes the going hard. The AI is difficult enough as it is when you start out. Allowing it to learn and grow better although is a great idea, isn’t needed in a game as difficult as this to control.
The thing is, the game doesn’t allow for new players to actually start to get into the game and master it in the way I’m sure the game actually wants you to. With no tutorial as such and no practice modes the entire thing is down to trial and error erring more on the side of error as far as I was concerned. If you are bad at the game, I’m sorry, but there is little chance for you to be able to improve on that. Get ready for a lot of crashes and rage quits.
Ride 4 PS4 Pro Review – Career
There is an element of customisation in the game. Of course, players can choose from numerous bikes which can be unlocked through completing races or in-game currency. The game features a whole host of official manufacturers as you would come to expect in this day and age and bikes are customisable to make them competitive and fit round your racing style. The more you race with a certain manufacturer, the more your affinity will grow with them offering bonuses as you progress.
Setting up your rider at the start of your career involves picking your facial features as viewed through the helmets visor, so basically just a pair of eyes and skin colour. You can also change your riding style and cornering methods of how far down you can get the bike to go. It didn’t seem to make much difference which set ups I chose as I tried numerous ones, I still sucked at the game for the best part and cornering is awful for all the reasons listed above in the review.
The games career mode is a lengthy one made even longer by the entire difficulty of the game and being able to easily compete against the AI. There is a dense collection of races and challenges in the games core mode, but most of these are uninspiring. It will definitely be time consuming for those willing to put in the effort to complete them.
Leagues and Cups are locked behind a number of points needed to be gained by the previous set of races, but the campaign does become very linear and offers little in the way of any form of deviation from the path. The whole thing does start to feel like an endurance rather than an enjoyable path. My progress was halted more times than not when I had to take a break from the game due to the grind involved. It just doesn’t feel fun to play.
Beyond the main campaign there are a few other game modes. Time trials as you would probably expect feature as well as a new Endurance Mode for the series. If you are new to the series I wouldn’t suggest this mode. It does feel like it is aimed toward the more hardcore fans of the game. They are very long tests of your concentration and racing abilities. The multiplayer of course features as well, but does feel dated with the fact that it doesn’t seem to use the matchmaking abilities that literally every other game uses, but instead uses an out dated lobby option instead.
Ride 4 PS4 Pro Review – In the end
The thing is with Ride 4, all of this review makes it sound like a basic and bad game. It is to a certain extent as it doesn’t cater for everyone and I don’t feel is as easily marketable as other Milestone titles. Even down to the games visuals on the PS4 Pro, they’re not as good as other titles in their lists, but the game isn’t all that bad.
The sound feels flat as well. I thought I would mention it in here. Considering the history of their titles, the bikes sounds just don’t feel as polished as other games that Milestone have released.
The learning curve is awful, it takes hours to even start to feel like youre able to compete, yet there is something about the game that kept me coming back to it. Perhaps its because Im stubborn and didn’t want to quit on it or perhaps there is just something that is actually good about the game once you do start to get into it.
If you’re a fan of the series you will be loving this game. If you are new to it you can easily hate it. I wouldn’t say that I hated the game as such, but at the same time I cant say that I’m sold on the franchise making me want more when it comes to Ride 5 (if they make it of course). I can see what Milestone have tried to do, but I do question if it has worked or not.
Unfortunately Ride 4 is a niche game that will only excite core fans of the series. For the casual gamer it doesn't offer anything other than hours of frustration and very short lived enjoyment if any.