RIDE 5 PS5 Review. In September 2022, a video showing insane first-person footage of PS5 game RIDE 4 went viral on YouTube. Having cut my teeth on Super Hang On and Road Rash back in the Sega Mega Drive days, my interest was piqued. I had to check this game out. Some further investigation led me to a Digital Foundry analysis of the game and said viral video. My hopes were dashed as the DF team debunked the video as only being possible in replay mode. Not actually possible in gameplay.
With the arrival of RIDE 5 as a current-gen-only game, maybe… just maybe this amazing realistic first-person gameplay would become reality.
Ride 5 – Full Throttle Toward Photo-Realistic Bike Racing
Developer Milestone is no stranger to racing games with a long list of titles in the genre including Moto GP, Hot Wheels Unleashed, and Monster Energy Motorcross to name but a few. Their work on the RIDE series of games thus far has seen them sell over three million units in the franchise worldwide. With this being the studio’s first release that’s only on current-gen systems, they are striving to push the limits of what is possible in the series.
Mention the RIDE games to anyone familiar with them and you’ll be met with a similar response to how tough as nails these games are to get to grips with. Having never tried any of these titles before my work could be cut out to achieve some semblance of mastery of the two-wheeled rockets.
Learning To Ride
Having played and loved what Polyphony Digital has delivered with Gran Turismo 7, not only do I have a high bar for expectations with SIM racing games but moving from primarily racing in car-based games over the years, my brain would have to shift to the skill of racing bikes. A totally different beast.
Thankfully, RIDE 5 opens with an inspiring speech which, while not on the level of Al Pacino’s iconic speech from Any Given Sunday, the message it gets across is quite the same. It instantly had me revved up with a drive in me to take this bull by the horns and succeed no matter how tough the going gets.
Buoyed by a desire to be able to master this game in first-person I set about the task one inch at a time. Similar to the recent F1 games, players have a range of settings and aids in or to adjust the feel and challenge the game offers. Featuring more than 270 authentic bikes, 20 official manufacturers, and 44 tracks to race on, there’s plenty to get stuck into with RIDE 5 to say the least.
Career – From Zero To Hero
Starting off your riding career racing in some local races and competitions, the aim is to climb the world rankings. Career events are structured into Acts and progression is dependent on achieving certain milestones to unlock further challenges. These acts are a mix of different events from one on on head-to-head shootouts to full championship style with points awarded for finishing places across a number of races. As you ascend toward the top of the rankings you will encounter racing rivals. There are a total of 10 main rivals to face off against throughout your career and you will have to usurp them all to become No.1.
New rides are picked up as rewards and by building your constructor affinity level, you bag some nice discounts for the different brands at the dealership. You’ll also build up a nice stack of cash with which to purchase upgrades or brand new bikes. As you progress you will grow your affinity rating for the different bike brands and the higher this rating the bigger the discount percentage you get for each brand.
Just like in GT7, players in RIDE 5 can upgrade bikes in their garage, swapping out stock parts for better alternatives to give boosts to performance. Care needs to be taken though as too many upgrades can render your favourite bike unusable for some events. Downgrading may be necessary to get the performance points rating to an accepted level.
Push For Realism
RIDE 5 strives to achieve an even higher level of realism than in previous entries in the series. This is achieved through a number of improvements to how the riders move and how the bikes feel. The bike chain implementation for example allows for acceleration that more accurately mimics the real-world performance of the bikes. Things like the new improved sky system enhance the visual experience with 3D procedural clouds that change shape and more realistically react to light. The bike models are beautifully designed with meticulous attention to detail, and materials accurately respond to light and the tyres exhibit wear thanks to a new physical deformation system.
Milestone has previously delivered incredibly polished animations and I’m happy to say that this is possibly their best work yet. This is particularly evident in first-person view mode, where the movements of other riders really help to sell the immersion of being in a real race. Little shifts in their body weight and height look smooth and natural. Your own bike rattles as you quickly accelerate – the feeling of speed is breathtaking at times. Further enhancing the experience is the realistic way light and reflections are handled. The subtle reflections in the windshield are particularly impressive. Reflections in the mirrors can however be a bit hit-and-miss depending on which bike you are riding.
Meanwhile, weather also plays a big part in selling a realistic look, with lower sunlight delivering some impressive visuals. With rainy and sunset scenes being particularly well done, it would be nice to see the team bring the full sun visuals up to a similar experience. Speaking of improvements the UI is in need of some dialling up of the text size used. It is very difficult to read at times with the bike history info being especially hampered. Offering players a slider in the options would be very welcome and allow this to be tweaked to user preference.
The soundscape is phenomenal, especially with the use of a headset. Each bike sounds different giving them all a unique feel as you take them around the tracks. Racing close to others is immense with the hum of multiple different engines filling your earholes. One part of the sound that could be improved is the collisions with other bikes as there seems to be just one sound that doesn’t sound very realistic. Some range of sounds would be good here to make this sound better.
Pimp Your RIDE
The game features a nice suite of customisation tools that allow players to create custom bike liveries, helmet designs, suit designs, and stickers. Better still is the ability to make creations public and share them with the community. This means that if you don’t have the time to invest, or are not creative then you can just download the creative brilliance of others. I was able to download a Joker-inspired bike livery for an Aprilla that looks pretty slick.
RIDE 5 could definitely benefit from some small quality of life and competitor AI improvements, but as a whole package, it’s impressive what the team has delivered. Barring some rare pop-in, performance throughout is smooth and consistent. Bike racing aficionados will be impressed with the passion that has been put into the detailing and realistic performance of the bikes.
The more time you spend with this game the more addictive it gets. Before long you will be very attached to a specific beloved bike in your garage that you have given a lot of TLC. If you’ve never tried this racer, then don’t hesitate to put your helmet on and take it for a spin.
RIDE 5 releases for PS5, PC, and Xbox Series X/S on August 24, 2023.
Review code kindly provided by PR.