Sports games are hard to get really invested in from a story standpoint. Sure, there's season mode in many, and FIFA and others have created story modes. But it's more about feeling like you were actually there and doing it rather than sitting on your couch with a controller that can sell it for many players. Ride 3 has faults, but does this part rather nicely.
Story! You're a racer. You need to beat other guys with bikes. Done. Different modes, different bikes, uniforms, etc – it's still racing. The closest it gets to story is career mode, where it gives a good representation of what moving up in the ranks feels like (better courses, bikes, etc.), but it all becomes repetitive when you do the same tracks a few times grinding away for different things you want. Overall it could have been a little more varied.
The controls on the PS4 weren't bad. I found myself suddenly stopping at points early on, but once you're past the learning curve it's smooth sailing. There isn't much more I can say here besides "STANDARD RACING CONTROLS."
It really gets interesting with the graphics. The courses themselves are amazing. The lighting and shadows add a lot of depth, but so do the smaller details like open patches of dirt in the ground by the grass. It's not randomized landscaping – it truly looks like a designer studied what the edges of racetracks look like and put it in. It's those tiny details that makes these places seem real. It really captured that 'huge county fair that feels empty except for this one event going on' feel for some of the early courses that is really hard to nail down unless you know all those small ticks. The menu was also creative – all the options were differently stylistic magazines and were little of pieces of art themselves.
However graphics really faltered when it came to bikes and players. Wheels looked solid and not spinning during races, and every racer has the same movements and is very copy and paste outside the skins. Unlike everything around them they didn't look weathered, and while it's not obvious sometimes, you get this feeling like something isn't right. Like when a character on TV is pretending to drink from a coffee cup but it's empty, and you can sorta sense that by watching it. There was similar dread here. It looked real, but once you noticed the faults, you couldn't unsee it.
Ride 3 feels like more everyday riders than huge flashy competitions, which I loved. This is GOOD gameplay features. Very few games do the 'back to basics' or where you need to work yourself up from the very bottom in local circuits, but it's here and it feels real. So the logistics are great. But the main point, racing? Racing is real at times. As repetitive as it can be, there is some skill to racing each time – you can't sleepwalk through it. Although, then you see unrealistic movements, like when I bounced into another biker, I went 90 degrees the other way, with no tires turning and no negative effects. The gameplay is fine until physics no longer apply and it becomes GTA V.
There's not too much to say about music and sound. Generic rock music is playing when it's not on the race, but once in, it's just track ambiance, with only motorcycles and other sounds filling it. That's when this shines. With the music gone, it sounds real and authentic. It's almost pleasant. The less the music the better experience here, and thank God they saw that.
The frame rate is good. Besides physics suddenly not existing at times and/or the game engine not knowing what to do, it performed solidly. Things DID tend to get blurry at times, but it fit in with the speed portions, so it was more like a feature.
Ride 3 has a lot of faults for sure, but it's hard to find games, especially sports games, with this kind of depth. All the little details added up for graphics, the sounds immersed you and the bikes handled like real bikes (for the most part) Ride 3 may not be in the rankings of a top sports game, but for a racing game it's up there, and honestly, it's probably the top motorcycle game out there – especially when it comes to immersiveness.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.