TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 3 Review: A tough but thrilling experience

TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 3 review

TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 3 review

The Isle of Man TT is the most dangerous motorcycle race in the world. Every year, riders race past lampposts, trees, and houses on unforgiving roads at suicidal speeds.

With no run-off areas or gravel traps, there’s no room for error. It’s so dangerous that hundreds of riders have tragically lost their lives since the event began in 1907, resulting in calls for the infamous Tourist Trophy to be banned.

Kylotonn’s original Ride on the Edge game let players experience the intoxicating thrill of Tourist Trophy for the first time in a video game for a decade. With punishing physics and an impressively accurate recreation of the Snaefell Mountain Course, it was a valiant first effort from the French studio.

After Ride on the Edge 2 arrived in 2020, Raceward Studio, the Italian studio behind RiMS Racing now part of Nacon Milan, has taken over the reins while Kylotonn focuses on Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown.

The result is TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 3, which builds on the last game and moves the series forward in unexpected ways.

Thrill of the open road

If you were expecting Ride on the Edge 3 to be a safe sequel with no innovation, prepare for a shock. You’ve never played a motorbike game like this before.

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In a surprising shake-up, Ride on the Edge 3’s career lets you freely ride around a sprawling open world set on the Isle of Man between events. Other bike games like Monster Energy Supercross 6 and MX Vs ATV Legends also boast open-world areas, but not on this ambitious scale.

While the Snaefell Mountain Course carries over from Ride on the Edge 2, Raceward has recreated the island’s surrounding roads, resulting in 200km (124.2 miles) of tight country roads and narrow villages to explore.

Running on the last game’s KT Engine with upgraded lighting and textures, the environment is richly detailed - we've come a long way since Sega's Manx TT Superbike on the Saturn.

We didn’t encounter any performance or graphical issues on PC, but the PS5 version suffers from glaring scenery pop-in along with occasional slowdown and screen-tearing. It’s nothing too jarring, but it is noticeable. Hopefully, these issues can be fixed soon in a patch update.

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With only eight circuits, including recreations of historic tracks like the St. Johns course that hosted the original 1907 Tourist Trophy, the racing routes can get repetitive, even with 32 layouts. But at 37.73 miles long, the Snaefell Mountain course provides a challenge like no other – it makes the Nurburgring Nordschleife seem like a casual Sunday drive.

Before you can tackle the main Tourist Trophy event, you need to work your way up and complete eight unofficial qualifying and race events. These take the form of either standard or staggered start races where you try to set the fastest time. You can still set up a custom event to experience the Snaefell Mountain Course before you graduate to the Tourist Trophy, though.

Frustratingly, it takes several minutes for staggered-start races to begin as you’re forced to wait for every opponent to set off in real-time. This creates a sense of build-up but there's no option to skip this if you're pressed for time, even if you restart. In standard races, AI opponents rarely leave the racing line on default difficulty and have an annoying habit of braking too early.

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As you explore the island, there are an array of optional challenges scattered around the map to discover. These range from head-to-head races against one opponent to time attacks. On top of this, there are also events tasking you with completing objectives from maintaining a certain speed to avoiding collisions with opponents.

There’s a surprising reverence for the location too. Find a point of interest, and you’ll learn interesting facts about the Isle of Man’s illustrious history accessible in your journal.

Completing challenges earns vital points to spend on upgrading your bike. From the engine to the suspension, every component can be levelled up to make your bike more competitive. Thankfully, it’s less in-depth than the intimidating upgrade system in RiMS, where parts would wear over time.

The open world gives you the freedom to progress at your own pace. Supersport and Superbike seasons can be run simultaneously, resetting the map and effectively doubling the game's lifespan. Unlike career modes in other licensed motorsport games, you also don’t have to wait for contract offers to progress to the next class.

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Compared to the last game's linear menu structure, cruising around the island is a fun way to practice your skills and prepare for the main Tourist Trophy event, with options to customise the time of day and weather.

If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can even ride around in the rain when free roaming. Like in real life, TT events are not held in the rain - it’s already dangerous enough in dry conditions after all. If, however, you don’t want to explore, mandatory events are always accessible on the map and can be started instantly.

Navigation options are limited, however. While you can unlock fast travel points once you find them on the map, you can’t set waypoints to destinations. As the map fills with activities you’ve discovered, there’s a lot to do outside the main events.

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But with no traffic or other motorcycle riders to encounter, the open world feels empty when exploring. Even so, Raceward's faithful recreation of the Isle of Man is an impressive feat considering this is the team’s first open-world game.

With an open world to explore, you'd be forgiven for thinking Ride on the Edge 3 is the Forza Horizon of bike games. But it's far less accessible.

Road rash

Beginners can apply an array of assists with three preset physics settings: beginner, intermediate and realistic. Helpfully, you can also finetune the difficulty further and manually adjust assists such as traction control and anti-wheelie on the fly using the d-pad.

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With automatic joint brakes and tuck-in enabled, the beginner difficulty makes the bike more stable over bumps. But even on the easiest setting, this is a very tricky game to master.

You'll want to avoid kerbs at all costs. Clipping a kerb, nudging a wall, or braking heavily while turning will send you flying off your bike and landing in someone’s garden. This is the brutal nature of the TT, where a single mistake can be a matter of life and death.

Novice players may find the punishing difficulty too frustrating at first. There are no rewinds to correct mistakes or interactive tutorials that teach you basic riding techniques. As a result, Ride on the Edge 3 isn't very welcoming for beginners.

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The lack of rewinds is especially frustrating in the final Tourist Trophy event. A test of endurance, this gruelling four-lap event around the full Snaefall Mountain Course takes around an hour and a half to conquer, but a single mistake can ruin your chance of a podium position. Seasoned Ride on the Edge players will relish the challenge, however.

Realistic settings raise the difficulty significantly, requiring smooth and progressive acceleration and braking to handle bumps without crashing. It’s challenging but rewarding when you finally nail a lap without crashing.

Crucially, though, the bikes feel fluid and intuitive to control thanks to the excellent physics adapted from RiMS Racing. If you crash, it's always your own fault. Thanks to a better sense of weight, the bikes feel more connected to the road.

Alongside the physics, audio design is also a step up. With roaring engines and ear-piercing exhaust pops, these powerful bikes have never sounded better. 

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As you hurtle past houses and narrowly miss trackside objects at 200 mph, the sense of speed is sublime - especially if you use the immersive first-person helmet camera. It all makes for a heart-pounding thrill ride you won’t find in any other racing game. You have to respect the fearless riders who do this for real.

Ride on the Edge 3 is a tough but thrilling experience. Its rich open world is wonderful to explore and a refreshing change of course for the series.

Combined with improved physics, great graphics and visceral sound, Ride on the Edge 3 is easily the best entry in the series yet. If you aren’t already, this will make you a fan of the iconic Isle of Man TT.

With Milestone's MotoGP 23 and RIDE 5 also on the horizon, bike racing game fans have never had it better.

Its punishing difficulty will put off some players, but Ride on the Edge 3 delivers an adrenaline rush like no other and the rich open world is a refreshing change of course for the series.
8 out of 10
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