TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 2 Review

TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 2 Review

The Isle of Man TT is perhaps the most outrageously dangerous motorsport event in the world. Held on nearly 38 miles of perilously-skinny public road draped over the Isle of Man, this enduring motorcycle time-trial barely goes a year without killing a competitor – claiming over 150 souls since its inception in 1907. Not to be flippant about the loss of life but, above anything else, KT Racing’s TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 2 aptly illustrates why this event is just so potentially deadly.

Diabolically tricky and boasting a wicked sense of speed, this impressive albeit slightly uneven sequel feels fast and dangerous in a way racing games rarely muster.

The star of the show remains the complete 37.73 mile Snaefell Mountain Course itself, with its tree-lined corridors, ancient city streets, and beachside blasts. Navigating the narrow roads of the course at truly sphincter-shrivelling speeds is an immense and unforgiving challenge, and the amount of crashes I’ve had while on maximum attack has made it abundantly clear why the real TT is infamous for its sadly-extensive list of casualties. In fact, there are times when Ride on the Edge 2 seems to share more in common with something like WipeOut than a contemporary motorsports sim, such is the startling velocity, amplified by the cramped roads. The top-notch sound is an integral part of the sensation of speed, particularly the way wind noise thuds through the speakers as your bike whips past trackside objects.

I’ve never been to the Isle of Man but, based on footage, KT Racing’s version of the course is an admirably authentic facsimile of the real thing. I haven’t spotted any especially major visual differences between the version of the course here and the version that debuted in the original 2018 game but, even if there were any, they’d be fairly hard to absorb at speeds regularly tickling 200 miles per hour. There’s some pop-in now and then, but not enough of it to really detract from the experience.

Ride or Die

Like the first game there’s a smattering of other, fictional tracks available too – scattered across the UK and Ireland. They’re adequate but a bit plain compared to the far more densely-detailed Snaefell course. A modest free roam mode is also included, though it’s basically the fictional courses stitched together. The open roads are peppered with typical open-world racing challenges and are adequate for a quick blat, but Ride on the Edge 2’s handling model is much better suited to full throttle racing as opposed to general exploration.

The handling is definitely an improvement over the original, which felt a little more slippery overall. The heavier bikes in particular now cling to the road far more realistically and, while still quite nimble, their bulk is communicated well via their far longer braking distances. Smaller bikes have obviously benefited from the handling tweaks too but I don’t find them as fun to ride as they’re considerably twitchier. There are several layers of assists to lean on should the punishing pro handling prove an insurmountable challenge but know that, even on the simplest settings, Ride on the Edge 2 requires rapid reflexes and an extremely deft touch. A dose of gravel rash is the only reward for cack-handed cornering, and a lapse in concentration at 200 miles per hour will send you spearing into a stone wall like a sidewinder missile.

The chase view leaves something to be desired, unfortunately, sometimes making it appear like the bike is swinging beneath the rider’s head like a pendulum. The bigger problem is that the low-speed handling is still a bit shonky, making acute hairpins and extremely narrow low-speed sections of track unnecessarily troublesome (Snaefell’s Governor’s Bridge hairpin and the subsequent skinny section, right at the end of a lap, is a particularly notorious offender). Tiny bumps also have a regular tendency to high side riders in the blink of an eye. Such accidents are probably partly realistic at these immense speeds, but the kind of track knowledge required to remember all the individual pieces of otherwise undetectable tarmac that will probably buck riders from their bikes in this game is out of my reach. As you’d expect, Ride on the Edge 2 features a dynamic racing line – which does place braking warnings on some dangerous jumps – but it’s a bit frustrating to be thrown off when the racing line is otherwise giving you the all-clear.

Death Wobble

Career mode has been fleshed out since the original but it’s mostly vanilla. There does seem to be a bit more structure to the path to the TT, which has several ways in which you can earn a place. The learning curve is steep, however, and conquering the AI can be a real arm wrestle – particularly when there are commonly one or two frontrunners seemingly capable of supernatural speed at times.

Upgrades need to be applied to your bikes, and you’ll definitely need to secure them to be competitive. There’s also a perk system that can give you a slight edge, which functions like the mod cards in Forza Motorsport 7. These perks feel a bit weird in Ride on the Edge 2, however, as arbitrary buffs to your ballast or brakes and such seem pretty at odds with the game’s pursuit of realism elsewhere. On the one hand it’s kind of handy being able to play a perk that slows the AI down a fraction for an event but, on the other, it also feels a bit like cheating.

Verdict

A blisteringly quick and dangerous-feeling racing game, TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 2 is a plain package and doesn’t quite nail the balance between its serious tone and arcade-style flourishes, but it packs some top-notch two-wheeled racing. If you have the reflexes, that is.

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