Ride on the Edge 2 improves on its predecessor in almost every single way.
- Developer: KT Racing
- Publisher: Bigben, Nacon
- Release date: 19th March 2020
- Genre: Racing
- Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows PC
- Reviewed on: Xbox One X
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Back in 2018, Kylotonn brought us TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge, and for many of us, it was our first chance to get up-close and personal with the ultimate street-racing circuit. The rendering of the circuit itself was a labour of love, with an amazing level of care and attention ensuring this was a true to life rendition of the track. Unfortunately, the game suffered from arguably excessively difficult riding physics, confusing and unclear career progression, and a limited number of tracks outside of the TT itself.
From a personal perspective, I absolutely loved the first game. I spent hundreds of hours racing, hotlapping, and unlocking all of the game’s achievements. Taking to the leaderboards, I held many number one lap times across most of the tracks in the Superbike category on the Xbox (PLOP DjMessiah), although I couldn’t keep up with those animals getting sub-16 minute laps on the full course!
Despite this love of the game, I wasn’t blinded enough to not realise the game was severely lacking on many fronts, not least the occasionally lap ruining twitches and crashes that seemed to occur through no fault of your own. Which leads us to ask: “With Ride on the Edge 2, have Kylotonn managed to improve on their first attempt, and given us the calibre of TT game we so desperately want?”
Short answer – Yes. They absolutely have.
The whole front end menus have received a slick level of polish. Whatever you decide you want to do, navigating through all of the features and settings is fluid and intuitive.
While many will no doubt jump straight on a bike and go for a ride around the TT circuit, we’ll begin with the career.
Instantly, it’s obvious the career has been improved for the better. Your whole racing season is available to view from a single screen, beginning in July and culminating with the TT itself in June. Each month has a selection of races divided into three tiers: Easy, Normal and Hard. Many races are locked, to begin with; however, highlighting these events will display the necessary unlock conditions. Unlocking these events is achieved by completing a set number of races, earning reputation points (that replace fans from the previous game), purchasing a specific category of bike, or winning certain events. It’s very clear and straightforward, and a major improvement over the previous game.
Before you begin your first season, you must select the team you wish to race for. You will have to use your team bike for major events such as the Irish Championship, Junior TT and Tourist Trophy, though for any other event you are free to use a bike of your own choosing. During the first season, your main goal is to enter and hopefully win the Irish Championship, a series of eight races with championship points scoring in play. Finishing within 115% of the winner’s time will earn you a signature, and earning six of these will grant you entry to the TT the next season (you can also qualify for the TT by winning the Junior or Classic TT). Races in the main career are a mixture of Time Trial and Mass Start events of varying lengths, with some taking upwards of twenty minutes to complete. Aside from this, you have your contract objectives to aim for, as well as earning cash to purchase bikes, upgrades and perks. It’s a little bit of a grind if you want to unlock everything, but you have clearly defined objectives to aim for and there is always a race that you will want to do.
Round H of the Irish Championship.
Although they have included classic bikes, the overall number of bikes available has decreased significantly. There are five supersport bikes, eight superbikes, and only four classic bikes. Whether this is down to licensing issues I’m not sure, but it definitely feels like a step back from the sizeable garage in the previous game (although many of those were duplicates with different liveries). There is, however, a marked difference between each bike. My preferred superbike, the Suter MMX500, is lightweight and nimble, but the stock gears are short with a long final drive. This suits my style as I like to drop a gear and use engine braking to scrub speed, but it requires accurate riding to maintain momentum. If you prefer a more balanced power delivery across the range, the slightly heavier BMW S1000RR has very even drive across the gears, but it takes longer to turn in or perform direction changes. Each bike has different advantages and nuances, and despite their limited number, the handling differences between them more than makes up for this. Changing between these bikes from season to season is great fun, and really helps keep the experience from becoming stale.
Challenge Zone is a new feature, and it runs in tandem to your career. As you earn reputation points, this will unlock new events in Challenge Zone, which in turn unlock new liveries and parts for your bikes, and also unlock access to higher-level perks in the store (more on these later). These challenges are varied and fun, although usually quite short. The aim is to earn Gold, Silver and Bronze medals by beating the set criteria. Elimination races (that used to feature in career) are simple last man standing events; Flat out events require you to maintain a minimum speed to earn points; Endurance is a checkpoint race where you have to travel as far as possible, and there are a couple of other variants. The majority of these are actually quite easy to win, but you don’t get the benefit of any racing line to follow, so it may take a few restarts while you learn where the unexpected hairpins are going to pop up, and it really ramps up the challenge.
Outside of career, there is a Quick Race option complete with options to set time of day, weather conditions and difficulty; Free Roam that is restricted to the Ireland Challenge Zone map; and Time Attack that allows you to compete for the best times in the world. Time Attack still doesn’t allow you to see the full leaderboard, with Top 10, My Rank and Friends being the only filters. If you are eleventh in the world, you won’t be getting any recognition here, which is a shame. You can select ghosts to race against or watch, so you can learn where you are losing time, and a quick press of up on the d-pad will turn the ghost on or off. Even though you can’t see the whole leaderboard, everything else in the Time Attack mode works perfectly: Staging gives you enough space to get fully up to speed before the start/finish line, and restarts are rapid, so if you love to go for hot laps, you are very well catered for.
Free Roam, despite many hoping for a completely open Isle of Man to explore, is restricted to the fictitious roads of Ireland. Considering it is set in the same location as Challenge Zone, it would have been good if they had included some challenges that you could complete with or against friends, but aside from just being able to have a ride about with friends, there’s not much to do. For anyone expecting Forza Horizon levels of freedom, you will be disappointed, as any departure from the roads results in a reset back to the centre of the track. It’s a mode that, were it to have been done right, had a lot of potential, but as it is, you won’t be missing out if you never use it.
Multiplayer is split between online and offline modes, but offline is just a basic hot-seat mode; there is no split-screen racing available. Online can be played in public or private lobbies, with private lobbies allowing you full control of the setup of the race, whereas public will assign the first player to join as host with control of the setup. Lobby size is again only 8 players, and you can only do a mass start race. Considering this is a TT game, they have missed a trick by not having scheduled time trial events open to larger numbers of players. Having a four-lap TT race start on the hour would no doubt be popular, especially if they could offer in-game rewards for participation, or maybe some form of ranking system. Overall, online feels under-developed, and is hopefully something they can address either through a content download, or at the very least improve it should they ever make Ride on the Edge 3.
New for Ride on the Edge 2 are bike upgrades, and the higher levels of these can only be unlocked by completing season objectives for your contracted sponsor team, or through challenges unlocked as you reach certain reputation levels. These upgrades are persistent across all modes, even Time Trial, which is a touch contentious. While you can ride without a team enabling you free reign to use any bike in events, it does mean you won’t be unlocking any upgrades, and this makes winning at higher difficulties very challenging. As this gets you to use more of the bikes and step outside of your comfort zone, it’s actually a welcome addition, and you may find that spending time with a bike you aren’t used to ends up with you having a new favourite, or at the least a bike better suited to different styles of circuit.
While the upgrades are a welcome addition, the way they have been implemented could have been better executed. By tying the upgrades to team contracts, it’s not always guaranteed that you will get an offer to ride the bike you want the parts for. It’s good to try out new machinery, but it forces you to persevere through a relatively lengthy career season before you get another chance to unlock the parts for the bike you really want to upgrade.
That these unlocked parts can be used in Time Trial or online modes is a controversial move. Either all parts should be available, or none should. By allowing these parts to be used in these modes, anyone with the skill or good fortune to have unlocked the parts they need has an instant and very tangible advantage. How this affects leaderboards and online lobbies remains to be seen once the player-base increases, but it’s likely to be highly divisive amongst those who like competition but don’t have the time to grind through career to unlock the parts required to be competitive.
Another new addition is the perks. You can purchase these from the store, or win them with good performance in career events. At first, you only have access to low-level perks, and their limited effectiveness means you don’t see any significant advantage to their use. Once you earn the higher tier perks, however, they provide a crucial advantage. They are split into four categories, and you can have one from each category activated simultaneously. (n.b. Perks expire at the end of each season, so smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.)
From pre-warmed tyres to increased fuel flow, faster respawn following a crash and more, they all have benefits, but when it comes to the TT, there are two perks in particular that give you a huge advantage. Swagger reduces your opponents’ performance, which if you tend to crash a few times is a life-saver; and Bonus reduces the time you spend in the pits (around 15 seconds faster for the level 4 perk). Considering how competitive and challenging the TT races are, this is a huge help for anyone struggling to get those elusive wins, and paid dividends on the way to my winning all of the major TT events whilst writing this review
This lap is from my best lap en route to winning the Senior TT (16m16s). I can go faster, and I crashed a couple of times, but even as it is, this is quicker than Peter Hickman’s record-setting run from 2019.
This leads us neatly on to the difficulty. In Ride on the Edge, the difficulty was all over the place. You had AI riders on easy that were setting times a clear two seconds faster than the global number one time, and it was nigh on impossible to win sometimes. The difficulty settings are far more consistent now. Easy races are exactly that, and you can crash a few times and still manage to win. Medium difficulty AI is very beatable for reasonably skilled racers, and offers a good balance of challenge that doesn’t feel unfair.
The hard difficulty, however, is very challenging: I am a very competent rider, and I can set times that are up at the top on leaderboards, but even then I found it very hard to keep ahead of the AI. The real issue is they go flat out lap after lap, with no mistakes. If you crash, you can’t catch up. Obviously hard mode should be hard, but when the best perks are hidden behind achieving a first-place finish on these races, it feels as though only the best riders will ever unlock these even though they are the ones who need these perks the least.
To add the ultimate challenge, there is now a Hardcore mode, where if you have a serious crash, you must retire from the rest of the season. While it’s perfectly possible to manage this by going at a steady pace, there is an achievement/trophy for winning the TT in Hardcore mode. At the pace you have to push to win the TT, getting around without crashing is extremely difficult – Expect the unlock percentage for that achievement to be very, very low!
For anyone who played the first game, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the AI veering across the track into you, throwing you from your bike. While the AI occasionally will still move into you, the physics are far more forgiving, and they are far more likely to come a cropper than you are. These forgiving physics extend to other facets of the game, too.
Tank slappers are far less frequent, as are random occurrences of the bike suddenly twitching and throwing you into a hedge. In the previous game, entering a slow-speed corner with a significant lean angle and applying the throttle meant the rear end would often break traction and spin away from you. You will be pleased to know they have addressed this, and the bikes now deliver ample grip when you need it most. Exiting excessively slow corners like Ramsey Hairpin, though, still causes problems as the bikes don’t always straighten up at the exit and can cause unnecessary crashes.
The following video features a selection of my best laps, currently #1 on the Xbox version. Can you beat them?
In general, you can now be a lot more aggressive with your riding, and you can attack corners without trepidation, confident that the bike will do as expected. Slight collisions with barriers around tracks are more forgiving, as is running off onto the grass or gravel around the tracks. That’s not to say you won’t crash – frequently if you are new to the game – but if you do, it will most likely be as a direct result of a mistake, and therefore rarely feels unfair. As such, learning from your mistakes becomes much easier, and you can improve far faster than in Ride on the Edge.
Having a number of tracks brought back from the first game, I have compared some of my times from runs on Ride on the Edge 2 with my old PBs, and have found on most tracks, my lap times have improved by several seconds. On some tracks, this is thanks to some awkward yumps and bumps being levelled out, which allows you to go full throttle through what were previously very difficult to navigate sections. For tracks that haven’t had much change, the newly improved physics have still made it easier to really push hard in corners, and I expect the lap time difference to be even greater once the hot lappers come out in force. It is far less frustrating than the previous game, and as such it is much more entertaining pushing for those top times.
A major change has been made to the way your bike moves around on-screen, too. For those who prefer the chase camera, it used to be that the wheels stayed firmly planted in the centre of the screen, and the bike and rider pivoted around this centre point. Now, the bike moves around underneath you, and it provides a far more convincing simulation. Veterans may find it unusual, to begin with, but once you become accustomed, it is a superior representation and one that will surely please most people.
One thing, in particular, that they have managed to retain in Ride on the Edge 2 is the blistering sense of speed. Hurtling along the narrow roads of the TT circuit is simply exhilarating. The new Ireland tracks are notably wider than the TT circuit, and you have a large safety margin if you make a mistake. Step up to a race around the TT circuit, though, and you are presented with an incredibly technical track that will punish even the slightest error, but that only makes it more satisfying when you finally begin to piece together the perfect lines.
I must have done over a hundred laps of the Snaefell mountain circuit, and I am still only just beginning to master the course. Even without the additional tracks, the quality, accuracy and intensity of the TT circuit makes this game essential for any true fan of the IoM TT, and will surely give you an even greater appreciation of the risks these riders undertake every lap they make, but also give an insight into what makes this track so intoxicating. The adrenalin-fuelled rush you get from nailing the most difficult sections is unparalleled in any other sport.
Brake and throttle response is excellent in Ride on the Edge 2. While the patch in the previous game improved it somewhat, it never felt like they had properly dialled in the saturation and responsiveness of the inputs, but now you have full control across the whole range of the controller triggers. Feathering the throttle around corners feels natural, and the haptic trigger vibration when you are braking helps stop you from locking up the brakes, and now that the physics offer more feedback and allow for more consistent levels of grip, it’s never been more rewarding.
It is not just the gameplay that has had an overhaul, as the graphics have had a noticeable amount of polish added, too. Frame rate is still locked to a solid 30 fps at 4k, and it looks glorious, but seeing how fast you are hurtling along the roads, the option to run the game at 1080p/60 would have been very welcome. Lack of high frame rates aside, Ride on the Edge 2 looks stunning throughout. Environments outside of the TT have had some major improvements, with trackside decoration brimming with detail, and everything looks vibrant and colourful.
The real jewel here is the Snaefell mountain course, though. The attention to detail in the first game was already incredible, and they have raised the bar for the sequel. From the sunlight flickering through the tree canopies as you tear along narrow roads, to the majestic views as you crest the mountain, it is an absolutely stunning track.
Bikes are highly detailed, too, and liveries based on real-world bikes look identical to their counterparts. Rider animations are also excellent, and they have a very realistic way of shifting their weight around on the bike. It is a massive improvement on the slightly stiff riders from the previous game. Incidentally, actual TT riders are in the game, but you rarely come up against them in the mass start races except on the harder difficulties, and even then, you don’t get a good look at them.
Pop-in is frequently noticeable, especially on the Ireland tracks, and it can be a little distracting. Given that these are new tracks for the series, I can’t help feeling they should have optimised them better. Even though you will mostly be concentrating on the upcoming corners, it’s still a minor blemish on an otherwise superb offering.
Audio quality is superb, with the guttural growl and high-revving scream of the engines being especially authentic. Wind buffets across your helmet at high speeds, and they’ve perfectly captured how the sound changes as you pass openings in hedges and walls. It all combines to create a deeply intense experience as you fly around the tracks. The sound intensifies the experience tremendously – there are very few games that give such a powerful sense of speed, and when a huge crash is just a slightly misjudged corner away, the immersion level is unsurpassed by almost any other racing game.
In TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge 2, almost every part of the game has been improved in some way. The combination of all these quality of life upgrades, handling improvements and new features have made this into a far more complete package than its predecessor. For fans of the TT, this is a must-buy, and for anyone who has doubts based on their experiences with the first game, rest assured that whatever issue you had has most likely been fixed or improved.
It is, however, still brutally difficult. The learning curve for newcomers is steep, and it’s fair to say if you didn’t like the first game you may not get on with the sequel. If you liked the first game, though, you will love this one. It’s ultimately a very hardcore racer, but if you are prepared to dedicate the time necessary to master the handling and the tracks, it’s very rewarding. There are very few games that will give you the same satisfaction you get from setting a clean, fast lap around the toughest circuit in the world.
TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge 2 releases on the 19th March 2020, for Xbox One, PS4, Windows PC and Switch.