TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge review (Xbox One)
If there is one race that should be respected, it is the legendary TT that takes place on the Isle of Man. This annual gathering of high-powered motorbikes routinely ends with the tragic loss of a rider and it is easy to see why.
Not only is it a road circuit, complete with hedges, trees, driveways and kerbs as obstacles, it is a whopping 37.73 miles in length and the very best riders average around 130mph. Yes, we said average. Suffice to say, melon-sized testicles are mandatory.
Developer Kylotonn Games, of WRC 7 fame, is responsible for the official game outing, which boasts an incredibly realistic version of the Isle of Man circuit. All 264 corners of it.
It was all going swimmingly but then publisher Bigben Interactive announced that TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge needed more time, which is why a November 2017 launch became a March 2018 one.
Now that you can actually buy the game, which features eight-player multiplayer, a career mode, time attack, ten circuits, 38 motorbikes and 24 riders, we thought it best to put on our digital helmet and try to avoid crashing.
Bear in mind the PS4 and Xbox One versions are available to buy now, with the prettier PC version (pictured) coming to Steam on the 27th of March, 2018.
TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge - The basics
Career mode is where you are likely to spend the most time as you work your way up the rankings, stack chips so you can afford new motorbikes and set leaderboard times that others from around the world can try to beat.
Progression involves choosing the race you want to take on next from emails. Bike repairs cost money and the top prize for winning an event is usually modest, which means working your way up to that entry-level BMW machine takes time and patience.
You start with a £30,000 budget, which seems a lot but it limits you to a fairly small selection of motorcycles such as the Honda CBR600RR, Yamaha YZF-R6 and Kawasaki ZX-6R. All of which are mind-bendingly rapid, though.
Before racing you get to make your own rider, which involves choosing your name, nickname and the design of your race gear. We say 'make' loosely because the customisation is basic, but then you rarely get much time to look at your rider while racing, particularly if you choose (and you should) one of the two first-person views.
The way the career mode drip-feeds you sections of the full Isle of Man circuit makes the learning curve less steep. Nothing is stopping you from jumping into the full shebang in the quick race mode, of course, but a crash-less lap takes practice.
Multiplayer racing can be done offline and online and getting into the action is simple, although sometimes you may struggle to find a game. There seems to be relatively few players right now, in the UK time zone anyway.
It is worth the wait because racing against actual people, with the highs and terrible 'banter' that goes with it, can be the most entertaining aspect of TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge. On the flip-side, it can also provide the lowest of lows as anyone who has lead the pack for two laps of the full TT circuit before crashing will attest. Once the tears have subsided.
Though it is only the 37.73-mile Isle of Man TT circuit that is a real-life fixture in motorbike racing, the other nine fantasy tracks are enjoyable, too. Tyrone Track in Northern Ireland, for instance, has a tricky bridge section where you take off, which is great when you come at the right angle and deadly if you don't.
Only the odd dip in frame-rate (on the standard Xbox One) diminishes what is a pretty game. From lens flare through the trees, shadows from houses to individual wooden fence posts inches from your visor as you attempt to go flat-out along the Snaefell mountain section, the realism is impressive.
The fact you are racing along British B-roads is satisfying in itself, as is the process of improving on your lap times and beating increasingly quick AI competition, but it is the sensation of speed and the accuracy of the course, being able to live the experience first-hand, that keeps you coming back.
Honestly, there are very few games that come remotely close to blurring the horizon so excitingly and so convincingly, one being Quantum Redshift on Xbox and the other Wipeout on PlayStation. Both feature futuristic space ships.
TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge - The bad?
To say there are a few rough edges would be an understatement. For starters, the rider is as wooden as a rocking horse. There's no ability to lean forward or backwards, as you can and have been able to for a while in the Moto GP games, which makes you feel less in control and the whole package less realistic.
You get a glimpse of just how basic the rider physics model is when you crash into something because, rather than tumble as you would in real life with arms and legs flailing everywhere, you stay rigid and upright. As if hardened cement fills the rider's blood stream.
Not only that, your fingers go through the brake levers when revving at the start of a race, every type of foliage is as solid as a brick wall and members of the crowd have weirdly proportioned hands that seem unable to clap properly.
The bike physics are, luckily, noticeably more convincing although there is a teensy weensy sense you float on the road and that, even with all the driving assistance options switched off (you brave soul), the game is more arcadey than realistic.
What really matters though is that steering the bike feels intuitive. Initially it is hard to stay straight, let alone get round a corner, but practice enables you to avoid touching the brakes for large sections of the TT circuit. And the odd quirk, such as when the rear wheel decides to ignore gravity, can be overcome with a touch of braking.
There is enough realism to make it immensely satisfying once you master entry speeds and when to put the power back on. That alone takes a lot of time given how many corners there are to memorise.
Getting to the point where you can comfortably finish a race in first (the position, not the gear) will take most players time, even if you set the difficulty to its easiest setting of four. But the reward for climbing such a steep learning curve is easily one of the TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge's highlights.
Satisfaction also comes from the detailed surroundings, particularly the TT circuit itself. The sheer speed of the bikes combined with the often ridiculously narrow stretches of road mean you are always battling to avoid crashing, which is never anything but tense.
TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge - A podium finish, then?
TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge is a satisfying racer for anyone who appreciates motorsport ─ not just two-wheelers ─ because it manages to capture the sense of speed and danger the real-life race is famous for with remarkable accuracy.
But it does also feel like there was a rush to get it published, with a view to ironing out the creases later down the line through updates, as is the case for so many modern-day games.
We know there is more content coming later in the year that adds sidecar racing and no doubt some, maybe all, of the negatives mentioned here will be sorted or at least reduced in severity. At that point it will be easier to justify the price tag.
As it stands though, a lack of longevity, steep learning curve and peculiar rider physics make it tough to wholeheartedly recommend. But those who persevere will find themselves immersed in one of the fastest, most tense racing games money can buy.