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Ride 5, Playstation Review

I played Ride 3 a couple of years ago and really struggled with it. Granted, I was impressed with the dedication to create a super realistic Sim experience, but the skill barrier was very high.  Ride 3 was just too hard and I gave up very quickly, with plans to never to return to the series. Barrie highlighted similar issues in Ride 4, in particular the extreme lack of help for newcomers to the sim racing series. But, in 2023 I can thankfully say Ride 5 hits a nice balance of challenge and help for noobs with little patience, like me. It offers a plethora in-game assists, amazing graphics and a very approachable, Gran Turismo-esque experiance for road bike fans.

Both virtually and IRL, I’m not much of a Street Bike or Moto GP type of a guy. The engineering of these powerful bikes, the physics defying cornering and the terrifying speeds they can achieve, certainly impress though. Ride 5 in-turn impresses as well! may The game feels brilliant, particularly in first-person mode. From inside the riders helmet, if you will. The unique motions of a bike being leant over in the corners, the way the rider moves around the bike using their weight to maintain racing lines all seemingly ignoring the laws of physics. The danger and chaos were not something I was expecting to be so well realised.

Clicking with Ride 5

To begin with I played in a classic 3rd person racing view, as I found the chaotic movement of the in-helmet view a bit disconcerting. I have never had a first-person camera move so aggressively in a game before outside of VR. But I tried it again and stuck with it for 10 minutes. It clicked! The immersive nature, the proximity to the bike and road and the sheer sense of speed it gave, offered me a far better ‘feel’ for what the bike was doing and more importantly, what it was capable of.

As I said earlier, Moto GP bikes seem to ignore physics, so a big part of playing Ride 5 is understanding what these bikes are capable of. Leaning over on a bend, with knees scraping the tarmac whilst travelling at 200km/hr is hard to relay on a flat TV screen, but Ride 5 does it. It captures the risk of too much throttle and brake and how it can be catastrophic in a race. To soften the learning curve, Ride 5 has a slew of rider assists and balancing settings to make this whole experience far, far, far more approachable. 

I found Ride 3 wholly unapproachable and hard, even with its rewind function to have a ‘do-over’. The rewind function returns in Ride 5, but instead it being used 15 times a race, I only needed it 2 or 3 times in Ride 5. It is also VERY generous in the amount of time I could rewind time. Hitting a S-bend at nigh on 200km/per hour is a bad idea, and as my riders carcass ragdolls along the sand trap, a quick tap of the right bumper and time rewinds back to a pre-corner moment of tranquillity….with lessons learnt. I then apply the brakes early, ease in some rear wheel brake too, lean my bike over and chew up the S-bend like a pro. No harm, no foul.

A reimagined accessible winner

So, the riding its visceral, challenging, but fun. The menu navigation and game modes are standard racing game fair. A career mode, with no story to speak off, except the odd ethereal voice over, talking about speed, freedom and “moments of glory”. I started with small cc bikes, learning the basics and quickly was moved into the big boy 1000cc plus bikes. So as I said, racing games 101 to be honest. Win bikes, buy upgrades, liveries and build a quiver of the best bikes the world has to offer. The game is gorgeous on PS5 and the devs clearly have a real love for the bikes. The detailed cockpits, accurate mechanical bits and bobs, all scream…bike porn.

Surprisingly, the multiplayer is excellent fun. (Jeez, I sound like a grumpy old man, don’t I. LOL) I loved the easy navigation of game servers, voting on tracks and considering that most races I was racing in, players were from Europe, USA and Asia. There was no discernible lag or rubber banding. I won some races, lost even more, but had great fun with what was a very smootyh experiance. If I had to pull out a particular nit to pick…and this is very minor. It’s the number of loading screens and button pushes needed to get from a menu to a race then from the finished race back to the main screen. The post-race 10+ ‘X’ button pushes to get back to race again is crazy. Not a major, just a weird bit of busy work that seems to serve no purpose.

I did not expect to enjoy Ride 5 as much as I did. It has real similarities to Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport as a racing sim, both is design and interface. However, its visecral and chaotic racing feels closer to one of my all time favourite racers, Wipeout. The Ride series has benefited from the 8 years of iteration as this niche title has been developed, resulting in Ride 5 being one of 2023s best racing games.