As will be remarked several times in this review, TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge 3 it is an anomalous sequel, almost as if in the successful attempt to expand the playful and structural offer, the Nacon production had to sacrifice other aspects, other moments. In short, it is difficult to say whether the new simcade-scented two-wheeled raids on the Isle of Man are really an evolution or, on the contrary, an involution of the formula developed up to the recent past by the Finns of Kilotonn. Also because, here is the good news, at the head of development there is now an Italian team which will certainly not be unknown to racing game enthusiasts. Back from a moderate success with critics and audiences gathered at the debut, RaceWard has tried, in short, to translate part of the formula appreciated in RiMS Racing on that strip of land surrounded by the sea where, mixing legends and reality, leprechauns and motorcycles run around happily. Let it be clear that in TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge 3, where the focus is on realism with moderate conviction, not even the shadow of red-haired elves and pointy ears. Rather, everything is centered on speed, on control of the bike, on that island finally “open” which over the decades has told stories and falls of great champions.
TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge 3: The Isle of Man
Legends and reality, indeed. For the first, the island was shaped and created by the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhail: it was he who snatched from his Scottish rival that portion of land which was then forcibly thrown into the Irish Sea. A few centuries later, under the symbol of the iconic Triskelion, the island will find glory and fame in one of the most fascinating and dangerous sporting events in the world. Every year, stopped only in 2020 due to a pandemic, the island hosts the Tourist Trophy. A long and exhausting race that winds its way up the legendary Snaefelltechnically complex and exhausting and which, through steep bends and fast straights, descents and climbs, has attracted some of the fastest and bravest riders on the planet for years and still today. The Isle of Man, too, has inspired stories and novels, artists and paintings, poems and songs, finally suggesting those video games that have become, having reached the third chapter, it can be said, a real series that, since 2018, is updated every two years or so. Yet, if there is no doubt that the second chapter was actually a better video game than its predecessor, today, May 2023, doubts about the quality of the product, albeit in a relative form, emerge strongly. The change of developer imposed by the publisher has radically changed the philosophy of the title: although the comparison is risky and in all respects risky, the structure of Ride on the Edge 3 winks at the open world, above all the Forza Horizon series.
Mind you, this is a comparison on an evidently reduced “scale”, where the “world” is transformed into an island or, to quote the developers, into “open roads”, with a more or less faithful reproduction not only of the “tracks”, but also of the many roads that draw the coast and hinterland of the small nation. Once off the track, even better: on the road, it will therefore be possible to travel the length and breadth of the island for about 200 kilometers which, the publisher swears, reproduce more or less faithfully, even in the construction and toponymy, the iconic Isle of Man. Along this route you will come across some icons which will thus allow you to access a moderate series of events, divided into competitions, challenges and “curiosities” which, overall, keep the play structure standing standing by RaceWard. What has been described fully draws the main novelty of the title and is an evident breaking point with respect to the more closed structure of the first two episodes. Yet, everything has a price. First of all, the “forced” comparison with Horizon remains, as expected, an “imaginative journalistic reconstruction” on which, honestly, Nacon’s marketing department is not at fault. The point is that, veterans of the huge and opulent modern open racing, the few icons on the map struggle to satisfy the palates of the gamer of the twenties, accustomed to a certainly richer offer, albeit chaotic at times. The point, too, is that, net of the two available categories of motorbikes, Super Sport and Super Bike, a handful of liveries and riders and over 30 routes obtained from the main locations of the strip, the Isle of Man recreated in the title does not offer great ideas unrelated to the competition, remaining far from the concept of “playground” which, in recent years, has influenced the market. The point, again, is that the “visitable” places of interest do nothing more than unlock short Wikipedia-scented text descriptions on the history of the island and that of the competition that can be consulted from the menu. On the other hand, it would be ungenerous to base the criticism on improbable comparisons, because Ride on the Edge 3 has some very evident strengths inherited from RaceWard’s previous work.
The RiMS legacy
It certainly does not tell a legend, in fact, that with RiMS Racing, the young development team had found an original way appreciated by motorcycle enthusiasts. A road that, albeit in a different way, has been translated into the aforementioned open structure, only tasted with Kilotonn. Scattered along the island, in fact, there are service areas complete with a workshop where it will be possible to develop the components of each individual motorbike. Engine, tank, fairing, suspension, brakes, gears, tyres. Everything, or almost everything, can be upgraded to five levels at the cost of experience points collected during the competitions to be faced along the career, for ever more performing motorcycles and for lap times which, inexorably, are destined to drop significantly already after the very first hours of play. All while waiting for access to the main competition which, as per the title, has licensed the game. Game that, as before and more than before, aims in some way at a scalable realism, thanks to the three configurations that can be activated at any time from the settings. These are optional profiles at the moment and cannot be customized in any way, but which, basically, make the experience usable and enjoyable for a rather large audience. Up to a certain point, of course. Compared to the two episodes signed by Kilotonn, RaceWard has given a decidedly more realistic imprint around the driving system, simulating in a more convincing way the weight management of the body and the bike, but also the management of braking and acceleration. These are aspects that integrate well with the already mentioned development system of motor and mechanical components, with “packages” which, once installed, actually give back the sensation of having the body embraced by a different racing car. However, the system of collisions with other riders, which has always afflicted the series born in 2018, still needs to be reviewed. better than in the past. All thanks, in this case, to the former Milestones who make up the team at the head of an evidently renewed project, albeit, as explained in the review attack, limited by critical issues and contradictions.
When the wind doesn’t blow
The structure has changed – like it or not the “open” concept appeared almost as a moral obligation given the particular location – and the guidance system improved – not only more realistic, but also more “coherent” and readable – the real problems of a production embellished but at the same time limited by its own license, all reside in the technical aspects, a real Achilles heel of TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge 3. And it’s a pretty big heel, because it must be admitted that, compared to the second chapter, this third episode is simply less beautiful and less suggestive to see and listen to. Perhaps even less refined. Despite the evident recycling of the assets, it is possible that the engine, brought to an “open” scale, has not found the right optimization, showing the side, at least in the Xbox Series X version tested, to a series of rather evident problems . Nothing to say about the improved fluidity, given that the 60 frames are granitically guaranteed on every occasion, but there would be much to discuss about the general impoverishment of detail and aesthetics. The bikes seem less beautiful, the foliage along the track less luxuriant, even the elements beyond the horizon line appear bare, poorly designed, angular, afflicted by a rendering that, despite the 4K, has brought back memories of contours that were anything but that defined a few generations ago. To make matters worse, even the lighting seems detuned and, although the obvious goal was clearly to aim for photorealism, the whole artistic system is less inspiredless suggestive. Given the visual suggestions dowry to the natural scenario, it is a mortal sin which, leaving out an annoying pop-up that afflicts textures and elements in the background, also falls on the audio sector. And no, the reference is not to the sound of the engines, truly appreciable and differentiated, but to that of the scenario itself, previously capable of “whispering” thanks to the wind that moved leaves, branches and dust, but which today is terribly silent, absent. Rather than relegating these critical issues to the developers’ skills, the idea, crystallized in some glitches and bugs afflicting the menus, is that RaceWard needed more time to optimize a package called to run, as the market dictates, on many, too many different hardware. All in all, quite a mess. Despite some goodies – above all, the implementation of a really convincing rain – the problem could still find a partial solution in future updates. After all, it is certainly no mystery that Nacon’s “creature” was born to last, with timed challenges and online rankings, as well as customizable multiplayer lobbies, which bode well in terms of post-launch support, complete with an official promise on an upcoming update of bikes, liveries and riders for the 2023 season.
Piattaforme: PS5, PS4, Switch, PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One
Developer: RaceWard Studio
TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge 3, it must be reiterated, is an anomalous sequel, which alternates between good and bad. The change of developer has certainly brought some “good”, i.e. the development of the bikes and the new physics that governs the driving model, but also that “ugly” which, mainly, resides in a series of technical and artistic flaws on which, year 2023, it is impossible to postpone. Some strong points remain, legacy of the particular licence, linked to the charm of a special place and a unique competition, born from the courage of the pilots and from that giant who, according to the most ancient legends told by the elderly, for an aiming error created the Isle of Man. Because yes, good things are born even from mistakes, even if they are not suitable for everyone.