Category Archives: LBoG: Editorials

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Anti-Snowflake Rant

Now, I’m all for equality and believe people shouldn’t discriminate against others. But recently, it has started to become increasingly more and more tricky to maintain that ideology. The rise of the snowflake generation is seriously something I believe that needs to be fought against.

See, I recently came across this article. Please do give the article a read, but I’ll give you the general gist anyway. So, basically some waste of sperm on Twitter has said that a description of a fictional character in the game, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla  does not promote equality, that the character’s facial disfigurement is wrong, that using the word ‘disfigured’ is unacceptable.

There was a little extra to the message, where the idiot claimed their girlfriend, who just also happened to have scars on her face from burns, saw the description in question and was upset. Accusing the description as being ‘ableist’. but that follow up message seems to have disappeared, or at least I can’t find it now. Worryingly, Ubisoft, the makers of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla have folded instantly promising to remove the ‘offensive’ descriptive in an update. 

AC TWITTER

My question is… seriously? 

This is an Assassin’s Creed game right? An adult series of games that use historical settings and characters to tell the story. Games that are notably full of violence, murders, blood and gore… but describing a fictional character, who has been horrifically burnt as being ‘disfigured’ is a sore point? Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as the title suggests, is set during the Viking era. The Vikings weren’t exactly known for their pleasant behaviour. I mean, here’s a little taster of the kind of gameplay the game has:

Notice the rating at the start for mature audiences? If you want to just skip to the 3:55 mark and the ‘fight’ part of this video, you’ll see just how bloody and violent the game is. People being murdered with a hatchet, throats get cut open, swords are used to decapitate people, axes are thrown into bodies, animals are hacked to death and so much more. Here’s a quote taken from that very video:

“Making a game about Vikings, we really wanted to deliver on the brutality of the combat.”

And they do indeed do just that, brutal is the perfect way to describe the fighting in the game. It’s full for blood and gore… yet the describing of a burn victim as being ‘disfigured’ is an issue? The word disfigured is the absolute perfect descriptive to use here too. Not just perfect, but also, not in any way offensive, nor does it suggest ableism either. Not once in the deception in question does it even slightly imply that the character is in away way impeded by the disfigurement… so where is this alleged ‘ableism’ then?

SIMON WESTON

Allow me to introduce you to Simon Weston. A man who fought in the Falklands War, where he suffered horrific burns after the ship he was on was bombed. Forty-eight men were killed and ninety-seven wounded. One of those being Simon Weston, who suffered burns to almost half of his entire body. Long story short, and Weston went on to be one a huge personality on TV and radio, he’s done amazing work for charities, become a spokesperson for veterans and been awarded countless awards and honours. A man who suffered some truly horrific burns… yet he refers to himself as being disfigured.

Now I know one was hero does not speak for every burns victim on the planet. Just as one idiot on Twitter also doesn’t speak for every burns victim on the planet either. I just wanted to show that being a burns victim and being disfigured does not equate to ableism.

Even more insulting is that, if you want to check out the Twitter profile of the delicate little snowflake who ‘complained’, they’ve promised to ‘ruin’ other games (his words, not mine) in a similar manner. This prick isn’t fighting for equality, he just wants to throw his toys out of the pram, cry and be noticed. Certainly someone who shouldn’t be playing an adult rated game. And yet, Ubisoft have given in without even the slightest argument, apologised and said they will remove the ‘offering’ description. It’s pathetic. Yet, as I write this, Ubisoft have not responded to my similar complaint about the game…

What kind of example does giving into Twitter idiots set? All Ubisoft are doing is opening the door to more and more asinine complaints. Now, I’m not saying that genuine complaints shouldn’t be made or investigated, cos they should. Just that, this kind of crap should be thrown out by  companies like this. It all reminds me of another Twitter idiot who got a sandwich pulled and then renamed from a shop because it was ‘sexist’ because it dared to use the word ‘Gentleman’s’ in its name. .. but products with female associations were fine? Just getting back to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, so if someone with facial scaring can not be correctly described as being disfigured, where does it end? Will we no longer be able to describe people as having ginger hair, no longer can we call people short, describe their gender (we’re almost there anyway), can’t mention eye colour?

I actually have a sneak-peek at the next Assassin’s Creed game, an exclusive for my readers. It’s going to be called Assassin’s Creed: Snowflake. It’s set in 2020 and you don’t play as a ruthless assassin any more, you play as a Twitter user who pretends to be offered over nothing just to get attention. There are no weapons in the game, just a laptop that you use to send inane Tweets to game publishers and their employees  in order to get them to censor their work. In fact, I even have an exclusive description of the first target you go after in the game:

Human, no features, no gender, no  hair, no height, no anything. Just a human.
FACELESS

This is seriously worrying. You don’t dictate to artists or pressure how they should create and present their art. When things like this happen, it’s another step in the wrong direction. I’m against censorship on any level (legalities aside) and giving into an obvious pathetic Twitter troll is not the way forward. But here’s the thing, I’m not so much annoyed at the Twitter knob who started this whole thing, but more annoyed with Ubisoft themselves for just rolling over and taking it up the arse from said Twitter knob. There is NOTHING offensive about the description used for this fictional character in this overtly violent game. And if anyone is going to be offended by correctly describing a factional character in a game as being ‘disfigured’, then you seriously need to get a new hobby. One prat moans on Twitter and changes have to be made… but what about the other several million people playing the game… or does Twitter set the standards now?

“Writers for games and otherwise need to do better.”

No, Twitter wankers like you need to just fuck off, you snowflake twat.

So, I’ve decided that if Ubisoft are going to pussy out and change the non-offensive and completely correct descriptive of a fictional character in an overtly violent game set in the Vikings era, chock-full of killing, that I’ll not be buying the game or any Ubisoft title now. I have my own moral compass and I quite honestly can’t give money to a studio who panders to snowflakes like this. This also goes for any other publisher who wrongly decides to give into Twitter bullies. I’ll spend my money elsewhere instead.

 

Game Review: Dirt 5

As one of the world’s greatest radical free thinkers, moral philosophers and finest word-smiths ever once stated:

“Wanna get rowdy.
Gonna get a little unruly.
Get it fired up in a hurry.
Wanna get dirty.
It’s about time that I came to start the party.
Sweat dripping over my body.
Dancing getting just a little naughty.
Wanna get dirty.”

– Christina Aguilera

Yes, I do ‘wanna get dirty’ Christina and I am going to too, as I look at Codemasters Dirt 5, the latest in the Dirt franchise of racers.

This series of games has a bit of a confusing past. Originally a spin-off from the successful Colin McRae Rally franchise and called Colin McRae: Dirt. The Colin McRae name was dropped after 2009’s Colin McRae: Dirt 2 following the tragic death of McRae in 2007. The games then just became known as Dirt (insert number here). But just to make things that little bit more confusing, the Dirt series had it’s own spin-offs too, Dirt: Showdown, Dirt Rally and Dirt Rally 2.0. All in all, there have been a total of seven Dirt games (even more if you include the original Colin McRae titles) in the series, not including this new one, Dirt 5, which is the eighth game. Make sense? Anyway, about the game itself.

The Game

As the title may suggest, Dirt 5 is not a ‘normal’ racing game. You won’t find a showcase of exotic supercars and famed race circuits here. No tearing around Monza in a Ferrari F-50 à la Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. This is all about off-road racing, not necessarily rallying as such, just not racing on roads and race circuits. In fact, there isn’t any actual proper rally mode in Dirt 5. What you get instead are various disciplines/events based on off-road racing, but more on those later. First up, what does this game offer?

Well, if you’ve ever played any notable racing game in the last few years, then you’ll pretty much know what to expect here. You’ve got your basic game modes. Arcade gives you both Time Trial and Free Play. Time Trial gives you the choice of any of the cars and tracks, then it’s just you against the clock, going for fast times. This is a great way to get used to the tracks and cars without having to worry about winning (or losing). Free Play races are a single race events on any of the tracks. With both Time Trials or Free Play, you’re given a decent amount of options to customise your experience too. There are ten different locales to choose to race in including (but not only) Brazil, Greece, Morocco, USA and South Africa. Then each locale has from four to twelve tracks/events to race. You can customise each race with what class of car to use (super lites, modern rally, cross raid, 80s and 90s rally and more), with each class having multiple cars to choose from. Then you can change the weather, clear skies, rain, snow or dynamic weather. Select the time of day from dawn to night racing, you can also choose the speed at which time passes.

You can even customise your chosen vehicles. Change its base colour, add patterns, decals, sponsor logos and more. It’s not exactly Forza Motorsport levels of car customisation, but to be honest, that kind of deep car design isn’t really needed here. What is here, is quick and easy to use. You’ll be making your own custom liveries in no time with little to no fuss.

DIRT 5 ACTION

There’s a great mode called Playgrounds, here you get to drive around and have fun in custom made Gymkhana arenas. Don’t know what Gymkhana is? Well just click this link, but to put it in basic terms, Gymkhana is an event where you can take a car and throw it around an open area full of obstacles. Slaloms, jumps, donuts, drifts, anything you really want to do all in the name of big fun. In Playgrounds mode, you can try out other people’s custom created Gymkhana events and areas, of which there are already plenty of, even though the game has not yet been released (as of writing). Or if you feel up to it, you can create your own. There’s a very simple, easy to use creator mode which allows you to knock up your own OTT events with a pretty intuitive build mode. Place a start gate, fill the area with jumps, banked turns, flaming rings to jump through, barriers to help create a tight turns, numerous obstacles… even loop-the-loops and so much more, then place a finishing gate and enjoy. With very little time and effort, I was able to knock up a fairly rudimentary, stupidly silly but enjoyable event. I think those who love to create will get a real kick out of the Playgrounds feature.

So it’s on to the big one, Career mode. For me, this is where the real meat of any racing games lies. I’ve played a few racers in my time, and very few of them have a truly engaging career mode. Dirt 5‘s is actually pretty damn good. There’s a lot here to unwrap. You start be creating your avatar, nationality, race number. You can even create a player card, a kind of ID for your character. Choose a backdrop card from various designs, a lanyard, nickname, a sticker and an effect to give the whole thing a bit of pizzazz. But the main course are the races and events.

DIRT 5 ACTION 2

As I previously mentioned, there are various disciplines/events to play around with. Ultra cross, Rally Raid, Land Rush, Stampede, Ice Breakers, Sprints, Path Finder and of course Gymkhana. To be honest, a few of the events are fairly indistinguishable from others and just feel like lap or checkpoint races… just with a bit of a rally twist. But there are some pretty stand out events that really impressed me. From racing over the frozen East River of Roosevelt Island, New York to trying to make my way up Dadès Gorges, Morocco in a huge wheeled rock bouncer. The Career mode here will have you playing though all of the events as you progress to become champion.

Career mode also features sponsors, with different sponsors offering different pay-outs and bonuses. Pay you’ll ned to buy new cars for when the events get trickier later down the line. And there are a tonne of vehicles here to play around with. I was going to do a car count, but with all the different disciplines, each having their own set of cars… I kind of got lost in it all. But let’s just say, there’s a lot of cars here. I’ve not finished Career mode as I write this, not even close, but I have put a fair few hours into it and still not bored. Always looking forward to what the game is going to throw at me next.

DIRT 5 ACTION 3

Graphically, Dirt 5 is a real looker too. The environments can go from the lush greens and quite frankly, beauty of China with cherry blossom leaves falling, to the snowy slopes and icy climate of Norway and the Northern Lights, or the rugged rocks and very brown-ness but sunny climate of Arizona.

Then there’s the weather effects, for me, a true test of a racing game’s graphics and Dirt 5 does not disappoint. Dynamic weather means that you can start a race in the dry, but give it a lap or two and it’ll be chucking it down with rain. That rain affects the race too as the already muddy tracks get more and more wet, more muddy, to the point where they can become waterlogged. Puddles form and grow, the tyre tracks from previous laps fill with water. The snow is really effective too. There’s a race quite early in Career mode where you start on a track lightly covered in snow, the snow continues to fall. As the race progresses, the snow settles and by the time your on the last lap, the track has gone from a light dusting to several inches of the white stuff. Mud gets caked to the cars as they slide and drift around corners, pyrotechnics and lasers shoot into the sky at the side of the circuits, providing some great background effects and confetti cannons litter the tracks in bright coloured paper and more.

DIRT 5 ACTION 4

There’s also an online mode, but to be honest, I’ve not played it yet. I may update this review to reflect my views on that later when I’ve played it. But if the rest of the game is anything to go by, I’m sure it’ll be great.

Overall

Confession time, this is the first Dirt game I’ve put some decent time into. I’ve dabbled with some of the previous titles, but never really got onto them fully. Dirt 5, quite honestly, has really pulled me in. But there is a bit of a warning coming up. Dirt 5 is pure arcade action, previous titles did edge more toward the sim kind of racer. Never full simulation sure, but sim-like. This more arcadey approach could turn some Dirt fans off. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, there are no actual proper rally events. But on the other hand, others may find this one a lot more accessible to play.

Still, for me, this is the most fun I’ve had with a racing game for a while now. I’m really looking forward to finishing the Career, I’m sure I’ll also lose a lot of time making my own Gymkhana events. Plus, I’m pretty excited to see what Codemasters have planed for future DLCs. I think I’ll be getting a lot of play out of this one. If you want a bit of OTT rally-esque racing, then you can’t go wrong with Dirt 5. It’s fast, it’s frantic and it’s fantastic.

Game Review: Airplane Mode

Nonsense games (as I like to call them) have become rather popular over recent years. Titles like Goat Simulator, I Am Bread and Octodad: Dadliest Catch, et al. Those games that are really stupid and often offer completely pointless and irrelevant style gameplay. Games that put you in the shoes of weird and wonderful protagonists… or a slice of bread, and allow you to just play around with the game’s world and physics. While nonsense games have become en vogue recently, they’re not exactly new. Back in 1993 there was Monty Python’s Complete Waste of Time game, and it was exactly what the title suggested. I think perhaps one of the more infamous nonsense games came from the unreleased, Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors for the Sega CD. While the game was never officially released, it has been leaked onto the interwebs. Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors was a collection of pointless mini-games, the most (in)famous one being Desert Bus. In it, you have to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada, around a 415 mile trip… and you have to do it all in real time too. The bus can’t go any faster than 45mph and the in-game journey takes around eight hours of non-stop ‘play’ to complete. There’s no racing, no interactions, no traffic. Just you, an open desert road and a bus.

Well, developer Hosni Auji has thrown his pilot’s hat into the ring to try and make a nonsense, long haul travel game for a new generation, Airplane Mode. In the game, you are a passenger on a flight in economy class… and that’s about it really.

The Game

Your flight is from New York to Reykjavik, which takes around six hours, real-time remember. But if you don’t fancy that, then you can opt for a shorter New York to Nova Scotia, a two hour trip… and yes, I’ve spent the last few hours as a virtual airplane passenger just to to this review. I went for the latter, shorter flight, but I did stick it through till the end.

So, the game doesn’t bore you with having to wait around in the departure lounge, nor do you have to board, find your seat and store your luggage. Airplane Mode starts with you already in your seat… but you do have to go through all the pre-flight safety, taxi to the runway, etc. You even have to endure the pilot’s chit-chat they always do. Being stuck in an airplane seat in economy class offers you a few options. There’s the screen in the back of the seat in front of you. Just like real life, you can use it to watch movies, play games, check on flight info. You can even order your in-flight meal… oh yeah, you get fed on your flight.

FOOD

Aside from the screen, there’s the pocket on the back of the seat that houses the safety card you always get on flights. The magazine that has articles to read, endless ads for perfume, etc. And it’s all recreated in the game too, yes you can casually flick through the magazine and discover all sorts. There are even puzzles you can enjoy crosswords, sudoku and more.

I must admit, I couldn’t work out how to actually fill in said puzzles as you can’t use the keyboard to type in. So I just put the magazine back, a bit dismayed that I couldn’t actually interact with the puzzles. See, the game doesn’t tell you how to do anything, you just have to move the pointer around and click, see what works. That’s when I discovered my carry on luggage under the seat. My bag was then placed on the seat next to me and I could open it… and there it was, a pen I could pick up and use. Honestly, I felt like I had just discovered the Ark of the Covenant. I quickly picked the flight magazine back up and found not only could I now write with the pen to do the puzzles, I could write, draw and scribble freely.

Putting the magazine and pen back, I explored my bag some more. A novel, an actual novel I could read in game. Against the Grain (À rebours) by J K Huysmans, it’s a real book too that you can buy in real life. There was a USB cable, no idea what it was for, but I plugged it on to the USB slot in the chair regardless, shortly after, I discovered that you have a mobile phone. Yes, you can charge your in-game phone, it has a battery life and everything. So I left my phone charging while I turned my attention back to my bag.  A pair of Bluetooth headphones that you can use with the previously mentioned screen to hear what’s being played. Oh, and there’s also a blank note book that you can use to write and draw with the pen,  anything you like too…

DICK

Now I had my headphones working, I played around with the screen some more. There are three (public domain) films you can watch and even a Buggs Bunny cartoon. I kept exploring, but that was when the flight attendant came over and told me to do my seatbelt.

I began exploring my cramped space and found you can interact with the light and air-con above the seat. Close the blind in the window, pull down the tray, recline the seat. There’s even a sick bag and yes, it is useable too. The PA system interrupted my enjoyment of the Bugs Bunny cartoon as the captain spoke to detail me in on the flight, then after the safety video, we were off into the sky. Honestly, I was really quite impressed with how much detail and interaction there is… for a game where you sit in a seat of an airplane.

When we were firmly up and away, I noticed a little toilet symbol further down the aisle of the plane and I clicked on it. Yup, you can go to the toilet in the game and there’s even more interactions. Turn on the taps, get some soap, use paper towels, lift the toilet seat, flush the toilet. Even the baby changing table can be played with. After which pointless playing around, I returned back to my seat. There was a baby crying in the background, a few minutes later and we hit some turbulence. All of theses in-flight events are random too. You can even sometimes get a faulty screen that refuses to work properly.

PA

Anyway, after the flight attendant dished out the snacks and beer, which I got to choose, it was soon time to land. That’s when I decided to play around with my in-game phone and found even more stuff. Music, a camera option so you can take and even view pics, podcasts. You can listen to podcasts via your phone. I mean, I have told an abridged version of events here, but that two hour flight (no pun) flew by as I was too busy enjoying myself, playing around with all the little things the game allows you to. I’m still not sure that I found everything.

Overall

You know what? I actually really enjoyed this. Just remove the concept of you being stuck on a long haul flight and you have a fun little toybox to play around with here. Crosswords, sudoku, real films, in-flight magazine to read, a book, music to listen to and more. There are a few things that let the experience down. More puzzles in the magazine would be great. It seems to be the same puzzles in the magazine every time you play. I did restart the flight several times to check, even launched the longer six hour flight too. Every time I did, I got the exact same magazine with the exact same puzzles. So it would be nice to see some variation in the puzzles that are there and even add more variety of puzzles too. How about some spot the differences, word-searches, etc?

BOOK

Maybe some more (public domain) books? There’s loads of great, classic short stories and novels out there that are free to read which could be included in the game with ease and at no cost. More PD movies would be great. If they got that Bugs Bunny cartoon as PD, then there are plenty more that could be included. How about different classes? Being stuck in economy is something many of us are used to. So why not let us experience business class or even first class flights?

In all honesty, I really enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. If they add more features in future updates (see my suggestions), Airplane Mode could really get very interesting. In all honesty, it really is just a façade for being able to enjoy public domain works or draw cocks in a notebook, there’s nothing wrong with that either. I had a load of fun playing around with what the game offered, it just needs a bit more meat on the bones to add to it’s value. But what is here is surprisingly fun. I mean, just how many games can you think of where you can watch Bugs Bunny cartoons while drawing a picture of some huge (if somewhat angular) boobies?

BUGS

Game Review: 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin

I grew up watching seventies chop-socky flicks. Those distinctly cheesy, bad effects, badly dubbed, masters with long beards teaching students type of kung-fu films. Before Bruce Lee came along and revolutionised Hong Kong cinema, proving that kung-fu films could be so much more and even break down boundaries with Enter the Dragon, there was this unique brand of martial arts films that captured my heart from a young age.

SHAOLINS ROAD

Over the years, there have been a few games that have tried to emulate seventies kung-fu flicks. Titles like Shao-lin’s Road, Kung-Fu Master or more recently Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao, among others, have all tried to bring some of that Hong Kong, chop-socky love to gaming. From developer Sobaka Studio comes a new game hoping to capture some of that stylised kung-fu cinema magic with 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin. But is it Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury amazing or Jackie Chan’s New Fist of Fury atrocious?

The Plot

Set during the Chinese Year of the Water Monkey in 1572. You play as Wei Cheng, who’s parents were killed by Wokou (Chinese pirates) when Wei was a child. Taken in by his grandfather, Wei learns all about the family fishing business… as well as how to fight with a staff. Now a grown man, Wei’s village is attacked by bandits, his grandfather is killed and Wei is left for dead. Buddhist monks find Wei and nurse him back to health. This is when Wei learns those bandits were actually deadly Wokou. With the help of the monks, Wei sets out for revenge.

The Game

At heart, 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin is very basic scrolling beat ’em up fare. If you’ve ever played Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, Battletoads (just not the new one) or similar, then you’ll know exactly what to expect here. Move around the levels and smack the crap out of bad guys with various attacks. Even though 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin does have that basic style gameplay, there’s a lot more going on beneath which adds so many more layers to the gameplay.

9 MONKEYS OF SHAOLIN ACTION

You have your standard quick-light attack, a slower-heavy attack, a thrust raged attack and a dodge move. Then there’s a deflect/parry move which is used for defence, stringing together moves by mixing things up will build your combo score, bigger combos give you more points. Finish levels to earn reward points and use those points to spend on upgrades and for your moves. You can swap your standard staff weapon for something else, with different weapons having different modifiers and abilities. Special equip-able items and footwear, numerous variables that allow you to create a character they meets your own playstyle. These weapons and items are earned just by finishing the various levels ion the story.

There there are the additional attacks by holding down the left or right trigger buttons and pressing one of the three standard attacks. You’ll soon be learning acrobatic moves and magical attacks that will cause enemies to float, slow down and even pull enemies toward you, all of which can be upgraded. The story is split into five different chapters, each representing a clan of the Wokou that attacked your village. With each chapter featuring multiple levels and a boss fight. The levels themselves can be really creative and often offer something unique along the way, fight in a sawmill and you’ll find saw blades that need to be dodged, storms can bring lighting strikes that can hit you and the enemies, levels in long grass will slow you down and make enemies harder to see. Honestly, 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin really does offer a lot of little nuances that add layers to not just the levels but also the fighting itself.

9 MONKEYS OF SHAOLIN ACTION 2

Different enemies have their own strengths and weaknesses, meaning you’ll need to experiment with your variety of attacks to discover the best way to deal with each enemy type. And if that’s not enough for you, the game still offers more. There’s co-op action so you and a friend can play though the entire story together. Either online or even some old school, couch co-op. There are little statues hidden on the levels which unlock amusing gameplay mods. Remember GoldenEye 007 on the N64 with it’s big head, paintball mode, etc? Well you have some of those style unlockables here too. Give your character a big body, the emeries big heads and so on, just to add a little comedic slant to your game.

I did manage to finish the game in one sitting, in around four hours or so. It’s not a huge title at all. There are twenty-five levels, which does sound like a lot, but each level can be finished in just a few minutes. Still, you don’t really want a title like this to needlessly drag on anyway. 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and neither did it feel too short. Besides, even though I finished it, I am going back to find all of those secrets and even try to finish it on the hardest difficulty. I really enjoyed this slice of retro beat ’em up action.

9 MONKEYS OF SHAOLIN ACTION 3

Overall

The only thing negative I really have is that the game never really goes full seventies kung-fu flick style, aesthetically speaking. I’d loved for it to have had a Chinese language with English subtitles to add a layer of authenticity. Maybe some seventies style film grain (could be one of the hidden extras, I’ve not yet found them all). A funky seventies soundtrack. But those really are just very minor niggles. 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin is fantastic and as an old school beat ’em up fan, this really scratched an itch.

Review: Ride 4

I do have a bit of a soft spot for racing games, grew up playing them and still very much enjoy the genre today. However, there’s one motorsport discipline that I’ve never really gotten into from a gaming perspective, motorbikes. I think the last time I played a bike racer was Super Hang-On in the arcade, back in 1987… maybe the original Road Rash.

Anyway, I’ve just never been attracted to motorbike racing in the same way I am with cars. I know nothing about the sport, nor do I have any interest in learning about it either.  So in that regard, I’m probably the last person that should review a motorbike racing sim… so here’s my review of motorbike racing sim, Ride 4.

RIDE 4 ACTION

If you have ever played any kind of racing game recently, then you’ll find things are pretty standard here in terms of game modes. Single races, where you can take any of the bikes out for a ride on any of the tracks in the game. There are 176 different bikes from 17 different manufactures. Brands like BMW, Honda, Ducati, Suzuki, Triumph and more all offer various machines to ride on. Then there are the tracks, split over three continents, America, Europe and Asia. All three offer multiple real-life race tracks. Laguna Seca, Imola, Brands Hatch, Suzuka to name a few, thirty tracks in all to enjoy. So just pick a bike, pick a track and away you go for some single race action.

Then there are the endurance races. Pick a race length from 20 minutes to 24 hours. Choose your a bike, though you have to use a specially modified endurance bike. Select a track, tinker with the weather and time of day, time compression. Hit the track for a very lengthy race. There is also the basic time trial mode where it’s just you, your bike and the track. No opponents and no racing other than against the clock, a great way to learn the numerous circuits. There is also a career mode, which I will cover soon. But aside from the multiplayer mode (which I couldn’t really test with the game not being out as I write this), that’s about it for you racing options. Ride 4 offers pretty much what any other racing game offers, it neither excels nor falls behind in this regard, it’s all pretty much standard racing fare.

RIDE 4 ACTION 2

There are some nice features to play around with, a photo mode that is accessible from the pause menu, so you can take some snaps of your bike racing action. Of course you can tinker and tune your bike, buy new engines, transmissions and so on. You can even customise your rider, name, gender, info, riding styles and more. Then there is the editor where you can create your very own helmet and riding suit designs, you can even design your own unique liveries for the bikes. Ever played Forza Motorsport and its creation system? Same thing here. When it comes to the customisation, there really is a lot to get your head around with Ride 4.

In terms of looks, Ride 4 is a cracking looking game too. I know several of the tracks very well and they all looked fantastic. Tearing around Monza, Donnington Park, Interlagos and they felt like the tracks I knew. I’m not a bike person, yet the machines all seemed great too, I can’t say if they are authentic or not, but they are nicely detailed and looked like bikes… so that’s good. I did a race in the rain, which for me is the true test of how a racing game should look. Ride 4 looked stunning, reflections on the track, rain kicking up and hitting the screen, puddles formed on the circuit… it looked and felt like a wet race, ticked all the boxes for me. So far, so good. Until…

RIDE 4 ACTION 3

So that career mode I previously mentioned. Every good racer needs a career mode and I wish I could tell you how good this one is… but I couldn’t actually play it. From what I saw, it looked quite extensive. Split into three leagues, there’s the regional leagues (European, Asian and American), a world league and then the final leagues (superbikes and endurance). But before you can take part in those, you need to earn your licence by doing several tests. A time attack, lap on a test track, ride through gates, etc. Could I pass these tests? No. Oh I tried, I tried dozens and dozens and dozens of times. The tests are just too damn strict, from extremely tight times to beat to the test being a fail if you so much as put a millimetre of your bike off track (seriously, a millimetre). I did manage to do three of the tests after many, many, many attempts and a lot of time spent, but they got so frustrating that I just gave up in the end. I could not even get into the career mode to tell you what it’s like. I had to switch on all of the driving assists, and I’ve never done that with any racing game before. Yet, even with all the help the game offers… I could not do those damn tests to play career mode. I’ve had the game for over a week for review and I could not review the main part of the game.

I couldn’t work out if it was me or the game being really unfair and unforgiving. As I said at the start, I’m not a bike person… but I can play racing games… I think. I’ve never had this issue with any other game like this. I can race okay in the other modes, I can put up fight and even secure a podium or three in single races. On tracks that I know well, I could put in some decent times in time trial mode. It took a while to get used to riding the bikes in the game, they feel really heavy and you have to think about turning into and out of the corners about three turns in advance, but I got used to it. Yes, it is very different to racing a car around a track, I get that. I know I would never be able to ride a bike like this in real-life around a real track, but then again, I doubt I would ever be able to drive a Ferrari F40 around Monza in real-life on a real track… but I can do just that well enough in a driving sim. I just can not pass the tests to play career mode… even with the driving assists on. I became convinced the problem was the game.

RIDE 4 ACTION 4

But is it really the game that is the problem and not me the player? I’ll happily admit (and I already have, several times) that I’m not a bike person at all, so there is a very good chance the issues I have with the game are not really with the game, as I just don’t understand bikes. So, I did a little research into the previous Ride games. As of writing, the original Ride holds a metascore of 54 on Metacritic. Ride 2 holds a 66 score and Ride 3 has itself a slightly better score of 76. They’re not exactly great scores are they? Very average to above average at best. Getting better with each new game yes, but still not great scores. Quick side-note, all of those scores on the Xbox as I’ve been playing the Xbox version of Ride 4. So as a franchise, Ride isn’t exactly setting the racing gaming world alight is it? Perhaps it is the game that is at fault and not so much me, or at the very least, there’s a bit of both there? But again, I got on okay with the single races, etc. It’s just those damn tests for career mode, they’re too ‘effin strict and the game is just not accessible for newbies to bike games like me.

Plus, seeing as I was having such a disappointing time with Ride 4, I thought that may be my driving skills had dulled. So I loaded up both Forza Motorsport 7 and F1 2020 just to re-test my skills. I was tearing around tracks, racing, fighting for positions and really bloody enjoying myself too (without all the assists on too). It has to be the game, I may not be a bike person… but I know a good racing game from a distinctly average one and average is what Ride 4 really is.

I really wanted to enjoy Ride 4, I honestly did, but it’s just rubbed me up the wrong way. As someone who plays racing games regularly and a person who considers himself pretty good at the racing genre, I just found it too punishing for what it is and a very stubborn game to truly get into. Ride 4 is just very, very meh for what I did get to play.