Developed by Milestone Studios, Ride 3 represents the apex of what this independent production studio has achieved over the previous two entries. After having invested hours of time in gameplay, anyone can see the high production values that went into creating this realistic motorsport racing sim. Fans will be delighted to see the advances the Italian based studio has made when bringing the sport to home consoles on November 30th, 2018. Everything has been revamped with this third entry, ranging from the graphical overhaul to the gameplay mechanics. The mediocrity of the franchise’s predecessors are wiped away, and fans of the racing sport are now treated to a visual splendor that feels more like a landscape painting than an actual sports racer. More a delight than a chore, Ride 3 has everything going for it despite some minor blemishes in an otherwise gem of a game.
From the outset, players are treated to a menu screen that allows them to choose from a plethora of gameplay modes that service both newcomers and veterans alike. The trial mode, for instance, has a fast forward and rewind system that allows players to repeat their actions after crashing their motorcycle. Such a design choice helps newcomers learn the intricacies of their rides along with tracks themselves. There were plenty of times when the rewind mechanic helped during sharp turns and collisions with other racers. Such a design choice by Milestone studios gave more depth to an otherwise formulaic genre. The Milan based company even included a Livery Editor and Career mode that allows players to customize their motorcycles and share their customizations with other players on the net. This gives Ride 3 a communal atmosphere that detracts from the competitive dryness inherent in other racing sims.
The career mode, in particular, is given a complete revamping from previous entries. Now, instead of the typical trophy competitions following a mundane story arc, Ride 3 incorporates a volume-based system that allows a player to collect various racing magazines that alter the gameplay experience. This is most evidenced when a players win a race and collect a winter cycling magazine. The following tracks are then altered to a snow-filled racing track that affects both the visual design but also the way your racer must handle his motorcycle. As a player, this design choice for its career mode is a breath of fresh air that adds depth and variety to the game’s story progression. At times, one feels compelled to search for collectible items hidden along the tracks rather simply beating other racers to the finish line. Variation becomes this title’s strong point and Milestone studios hit the mark with most of their design choices in Ride 3.
The tracks and their landscapes are simply gorgeous. With a day and night cycle, weather system, and multitude of countries to compete in, Ride 3 is a marvel to look at. Lake Garda is rustic and pastoral whereas the Isle of Man segment is rugged in its landscapes. Every country is presented in its own unique way with an attention to detail that makes you want to explore the terrain rather than stick to the chosen race tracks. Nothing feels simply cosmetic, every design choice is given cadence towards depth rather than a facade. The weather is just as varied as the environments. It can easily rain next to a coastal setting and then the following segments in a desert environment the sun can be blindingly hot. The multiple points of view camera angles accentuate the realism this game aspires to achieve. In the first person perspective, rain drips across your racers helmet visor. Conversely, in arid settings, players can switch to a third person point of view and witness the splendor of sand dunes. Each country possesses its own attributes that correlate perfectly with the weather system. Nothing is tact on for the sake of nuance. Tracks are as vibrant as the nations they inhabit. With a customization system to boot, Milestone Studios have created a work of art that surpasses anything that has been achieved in this genre.
For a racer that espouses to realism in the sport, Milestone Studios could have implemented a more suitable control system that utilizes the analog functionality of modern systems rather than the flimsy end product created by its designers. This is most evidenced during sharp turns and character collisions during races. At times, it felt almost impossible not to crash my motorcycle into the side barricades during narrow turns which became frustrating during significant track points in career mode. This significantly detracted from the high production values placed in the game by its designers and it is something that Milestone Studios should have perfected after its two previous entries. Such failure in oversight is disheartening in a game that is otherwise flawless in its design aesthetics. Another area where Ride 3 could have been improved is in its character animations. During certain segments of a race, your character moves in an overly animated style reminiscent of the old Grand Theft Auto games on the PS2. Your racers arms flail more than a Jim Henson puppet and this felt more comical than detrimental to the overall product. Such character sprites should have been smoothed out especially when one compares it to the realism of the environments that these cartoonish racers inhabit. Such a contrast is jarring if not comedic, to say the least.
Overall, Ride 3 is by far one of the best motorcycle racing games out there and is easily accessible to newcomers and racing enthusiasts alike. The minor flaws in design choices do little to detract from Milestone Studios latest entry in their sports racing franchise. The series has made some major leaps in quality that can still be further enhanced with future entries. Blemishes aside, Ride 3 is definitely worth the time even if you are not a fan of Moto GP racing. With a lush and varied landscape, staunch career mode, and Livery editor, Milestone Studios put the time and effort into creating an artwork that deserves a playthrough. Maybe this is not the ideal holiday title of 2018, but when compared to the works of major big budget studios, Milestone definitely holds its own in the ring. Definitely the best in the series, and certainly not the greatest racing game ever, Ride 3 is an enjoyable visual tapestry of a game woven together by some stunning landscapes and a realistic aesthetic design.