Milestone S.r.l. and Square Enix's Ride 2 was not a game I expected to actually enjoy. The first reason for that being – it's a racer by Milestone and Square Enix. I just don't have a good history there and can be a bit bitter about it. Just a bit.
But it's also a moto-racer. And my ability to drive in racing games is already sometimes limited by my poor ability to drive in games in general. Unless it's classic arcade-style Daytona, I'm often a really terrible driver in games, especially at first. They just don't ever feel like there's any real weight to the car.
And motorcycles? I'm too short to drive one outside of a game, so I'd expect myself to be pretty damn hopeless. And I was. I did manage to get a bit better, but slowly. Very, very slowly. Still managed to have some fun though, watching my virtual stand-in ragdoll her way all over tracks in Japan, Italy, and beyond. There was something very satisfying about watching that 3D corpse go flying in some of the dumbest ways.
Ride 2 was an attempt to give us the Gran Turismo or Forza of motorcycle racers. That was the idea behind the first Ride and it continues to be the goal with Ride 2. And while you do have the difficulty and the skill curve, the reward system is somewhat lacking. You don't always earn new vehicles at a satisfactory rate and the in-game economic system is pretty darn restrictive. However, there are a ton of bikes for you to buy, and eventually sure, you can own them all.
The in-helmet camera is an awesome idea. The practice of it- not so much. It was a jarring shift and honestly, felt like your view was from a very, very different place than on the back of a bike. The world tour campaign was satisfactory provided you are a somewhat competent driver, but judging the difficulties of tracks, picking the right bike to use, well, there's absolutely no hand-holding in Ride 2. In fact, there's nothing of a tutorial at all. You either guess the controls or learn in a trial by fire. The first time I accidentally rewound the game was a bit of a shock. Sure, the rewind mechanic is one we've seen in racers before, but I was not expecting it to be mapped to the left bumper. Breaking is also a bit of a mess. You've got two ways to break, either using one of the four buttons on the right-hand of the controller, or using the left trigger. And it really should just be the left trigger, because that's at least got touch sensitivity which, well, makes sense. And at least your break isn't also your way to move in reverse, because that sort of thing just drives me goddamn mad.
Over all there's a lot of Ride 2 that works, but just isn't enough. Because normally I can find reasons to keep myself playing Forza or Gran Turismo, but there isn't anything in Ride 2 that's gripping. Ride 2 doesn't need to be GT or Forza, even though there are definitely attempts to make it so. In fact, in chasing after the traditional racer formula, Ride 2 just ends up being an updated version of MXGP. And very similar pitfalls.
But if you don't care about a satisfying rewards system, and you don't need a tutorial – if all you want to do is play a game that features a somewhat faithful simulation of what it's like to ride a motorcycle and that lets you race and earn new bikes – Ride 2 is great. The game's physics are almost impeccably dumb, there's very little weight or resistance to your steering which allows you to flail around like a fish, but you can race and get bikes.
In the simplest of terms, Ride 2 does it's job. It may not do it to the same standards as one might expect of Forza or GT, but it does what it set out to do. Despite how stupidly ragdoll the physics engine is when handling anything other than a bike.