For a lot of racing fans the ultimate tracks to race on are the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans or the Nordschleife at the Nürburgring. These monster tracks provide a bit of everything, complex corner sections, long straights, high-speed corners, tight hairpins, and over the space of 8.5 miles for Le Mans and 12.5 miles for the Nürburgring prove a challenge for even the most accomplished drivers. For motorbike fans, though, these tracks are child’s play compared to the epic Snaefell Mountain Course that hosts the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (or TT). This behemoth of a track is over 37.5 miles long and consists entirely of roads that are open to the public for 50 weeks of the year. For the other two weeks of the year, the island becomes a Mecca for motorcycle fans. The TT race is one of the hardest races in the world with fatalities occurring nearly every year; in fact, over 250 people have lost their lives at the event over the 98 times it has taken place. Fortunately, gamers now have a much safer way to take part in the epic TT races thanks to TT: Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge.
While this game may be based on the Isle of Man TT races, that’s not the only racing on offer here. The career mode offers a selection of non-licensed, developer-created tracks that you will have to negotiate to be able to qualify for the main event. These circuits do a good job of preparing you for the style of racing that is ahead. You quickly learn to not only be vividly aware of walls and lampposts but also kerbs and even ridges or small peaks in the road that will unbalance your bike. You will also enter races that take place on small sections of the Snaefell Mountain Course. These will help you to learn some of the harder parts of the track. Races take two different forms, ‘mass start’ where everyone takes off at the same time from a starting grid and ‘TT-style’ where you start at 10-second intervals. Win a race (or place well) and you earn fans, gain enough fans and you can enter bigger events leading ultimately to the TT race itself.
There are two categories that you can race in. You start off in the ‘Supersport’ category. These are slightly less powerful bikes yet still very quick and a bit of a handful. Once you have earned enough money you can choose to pick up a ‘Superbike’. These are only for the bravest and best racers. You will find that it’s quite difficult to apply full throttle on a Superbike. It might seem like you are racing on ice but is just because these bikes are so powerful. This is not an easy game. Even the best racers will find some events challenging. It’s not an unfair game though, you just really have to be on top form for some events and tracks.
The tracks are well populated with scenery. There are lots of walls, lamp posts, bollards, buildings, and hundreds of trees. The design is really authentic with the Snaefell Mountain Course looking spot-on. If you know the course on the Isle of Man it will all look very familiar. The only thing that really lets it down are the crowds who are quite stationary and distract from the otherwise good-looking visuals. The framerate isn’t perfect but you do get a good sense of speed as you fly along the road under a canopy of trees. Some texture pop-up is noticeable but only really if you’re watching someone else playing as when you’re the one zooming along the road you simply don’t have time to look around.
Particular praise should go to the sound design. There is a really authentic wind noise that gradually builds as you go faster. I’ve not noticed this in any other motorbike games but is something that you really do experience in real-life. It may seem like a simple thing but it shows a great attention to detail. It is also placed really well in the surround sound mix. The engines sound like proper power plants from bikes and not just higher pitched car engines, an issue with some other bike games. Added all together, this provides audio that transports you to a place where you are riding these bikes for real.
We have seen numerous motorbike games appear on consoles over the last few years. TT: Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge stands head and shoulders above these other motorcycle games like, MX vs ATV, MXGP, MotoGP and Ride. The amount of content on offer may be a little light but the standout Snaefell Mountain Course is almost worth the price of admission on its own. Completing four laps of this huge course on a Supersport bike will take you around 70-75 minutes. This might sound daunting but the game does a good job of building up to the event. The team at Kylotonn have nailed the look and feel of blasting a motorbike down country lanes and not only created the best motorbike game of this console generation but their best game to date. They’ve also announced that in a few months time they will add a sidecars category, which will add another dynamic to an already gripping game. If they can find time to add a couple more tracks this could challenge even some of the best AAA racers on Xbox One.
Founding Xbox Enthusiast member and serious guitar player. Basically, Steve rocks. Need we say more?