I have only watched a few of the TT Isle of Man races, it’s not a big TV sport here. Sure, I would recognise some of the famous parts of the tracks or parts where unfortunate riders had died and were featured on the news but the course itself is alien to me.
I’ve never raced a motorcycle, but I have ridden many and sometimes I may have inadvertently broken the speed limit. Once I was inadvertently breaking the speed limit and was accidentally going 140mph down a dual carriageway, that feeling of power, the intensity, concentration, the terror and excitement of extreme speed is something you would never feel if you accidentally did the same in a car.
Accelerating from 0-100 in a few seconds or those moments when your tyres slip a little as you go around a corner are the reasons I used to love motorcycles. Then I got older and those same reasons were why I sold my bike and stopped riding, well that and the fact they wouldn’t let me into Longleat on my bike even though I had a shotgun for protection. (For my American readers, Longlet is a place where you can drive through wild animals like Lions and Tigers, the shotgun would be essential for protection given that the Lions also have guns)
It was actually after a friend was killed on his bike that I finally decided that I would be safer in a car. Since then 2 more friends have been killed. Friends of my family have had life-changing injuries or worse and so for me, bikes are no more.
But the thrill, the speed, I still want it sometimes, so when we were contacted about reviewing TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge I jumped at the chance.
I have never truly ridden on the ragged edge of a bikes capabilities. I have experienced the extreme acceleration and sense of speed you only feel on a bike but I have never pushed it so hard I was about to come off, still, I have had a few near misses and so it was with these semi-understanding eyes that I set off on my first race in the game.
The first thing that struck me was how well realised the courses were and I was very impressed with the graphics overall. I played the game from a chase camera perspective it looked fabulous but it felt wrong, the physics seemed off as I crashed my way around the course.
I was disappointed, the same happened in the next few tracks and I thought the game was at fault. Slowly, however, I got the way the bikes worked and I realised something, I was learning, TT Isle of Man was slowly forcing me to try again and again, I was having fun.
Things changed for me the minute I switched to the onboard camera. Suddenly the physics felt right. I could understand where the bike was in 3-dimensional space, if the rear tyres were a little high and I needed to set the bike for a split second more before braking or if I could take the corner a little faster. From the riders perspective, the handling is perfect. It feels like you are riding a bike very quickly.
From this viewpoint everything comes into place, the sound, for example, is perfect, from the wind noise to the Doppler effect of the crowds. All come together to make what has to be the greatest single motorcycle racing game I have ever played.
Now I have seen other reviews and people moaning about the game on Steam but I have something to say to you all. Games have been dumbed down for far too long and people have forgotten that a lot of games used to come with a learning curve.
In real life, if you are accelerating hard on a motorcycle and you lean into a corner and hit the brake really hard, you will fall off. If you go over a rise in the road and shift your weight at the same time you will unsettle the bike and will fall off. If you are cornering and your tyre hits a curb you will fall off. All these things happen in TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge. The devs have built a game which gets everything about the way a bike actually feels so right.
On the perfectly recreated 37.73 miles of the Snaefell Mountain course, there are some very fast sections. The Sulby Straight (it should not be called a straight!) sees you hurtling down a two-lane B road at over 204 MPH. The bike is bouncing because this isn’t actually a race track, it’s a small B road, and all the time you are essentially just holding on trying to see how long you can go before you make a mistake, there are bugs hitting the windshield and the noise of the wind, sun glare and sheer excitement make you realise that this game was made by people who actually understand how to convey speed.
I am sat in a room, holding a gamepad and leaning forward towards my monitor as well as left and right for every turn and my heart is racing, I have a genuine fear that I might crash. It’s absolutely fabulous. It really makes you think about the people that do this for real. What the hell is wrong with them?!
My best time for the TT is 20:02 seconds, I cannot seem to put together a complete lap where everything comes right. I am either really fluid at the start and think I am going to have a great time only to crash at every turn in the last section or I start OK only to have a horrendous middle section and finish strong. I am sure if I could pull it together for one single lap I would be unbeatable.
That is the key to TT Isle of Man, you are racing yourself. Sure my friends have times which I want to beat, actually, a friend who is VERY good at racing games is 10 seconds slower than me on the TT course. There was no need to mention this other than the fact that he will read this review couple that with the fact that it destroys my point a little and you will see just how silly it was to bring up that 10-second difference in our times, mine being the faster one of course. The thing is, I want to beat my times, I want to get all the corners right, I want to get my position perfect so that I can accelerate early and shave a few milliseconds off of a particular corner.
TT Isle of Man is definitely my new favourite racer. It doesn’t stop at beating times either, there is a fairly comprehensive career mode that sees you racing to earn money, you can then use that money to buy faster and better bikes with which to earn more money. There is a mixture of race types from TT style to mass starts and whilst I found the AI to be a tad aggressive, at some points even wiping me out by cutting into my line or rear-ending me the overall experience is really good fun.
I have been playing this game before release so couldn’t play much multiplayer, however, on launch, you will be able to race with up to 8 other players. I did get to play with Eric, the guy who is 10 seconds slower than me in the TT, he and I played for an afternoon, we tried various courses and bikes and had the most fun I have had in a racing game for years. We laughed at each other’s mistakes and for the most part, I just wanted to remind Eric that I went faster than him.
TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge features 25 riders with 38 motorcycles from BMW, Kawasaki, Honda, Norton, Suter, Yamaha and Mark Millers EBR 1190RS. In the riders is Michael Dunlop, the current lap time holder at 16:53 seconds. TT riders aspire to do “the tonne” which means your average speed for the course is 98MPH, Michaels average speed for his record-breaking ride was 133.962MPH!
The Isle of Man TT course has 264 corners for you to learn and master but even after almost 9 hours I still cannot get around the track without at least 5 or 6 crashes. As with all good games there is a learning curve and TT has a steep one, however, when you finally master the handling, you are still trying to be better, you are looking for that one perfect run, take a perfect line through a corner, accelerate sooner, brake later, shave a second off of your lap time, it’s intoxicating and is a major draw for me.
There is a lot more to come too, there will be a free DLC in May giving us the TT sidecars and there will undoubtedly be new machines and courses to try our skill on.
For now, I am going to sum this game up in two words.
TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge is simply the best motorcycle racing game I have ever played and one of the very best racing games I have ever had the pleasure to play. Oops, I inadvertently went a bit over the two-word limit there.