“Hey SpeedyBoi, we’ve got something new for you today.” “Cool, what am I driving? How fast is it? What’s the make of it and where am I driving it?” “First of all, it’s a Kawasaki ZX-6R…” “But that’s a…” “Welcome to your new crotch rocket, your entering the Isle of Man TT.”
That is how I imagined the short conversation between SpeedyBoi and my manager going before receiving this game; I’m going to start and say that this was a completely new experience for me and one that I enjoyed immensely. In most racing games I can sit straight down, enter my first race without doing any kind of tutorial and win. TT Isle of Man was completely different… I’ll get into why later.
The game was developed by Kylotonn and published by Bigben Interactive for the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC; Kylotonn (Kt) is a game developer based in Paris that mainly focuses on racing games – They’ve definitely become very good at it with some of the titles under their belt including the continuation of the WRC game series, and the reboot of one of my favourite racing series, FlatOut… So they’re good at car racing games, but what about motorbike racing games?
I’m going to begin with the graphics in this game, because holy shit on a stick it is absolutely stunning. For example, the game looks so good that during various sections of the Snaefell Mountain Course, I would get distracted and crash out off of my bike due to the surrounding scenery – This is particularly impressive since I’m still playing at 1080p, not 4K like how my TV allows; the model quality and attention to detail continues through to the bikes themselves. Below is a in-game model of the Kawasaki ZX-6R and a real version of the same bike; there are some minor differences with the bikes coming from different models, but largely the shape of the bike is the same and looks just as great.
While playing this game with a set of gaming headphones, it can become the most immersive game you would’ve played for a long time – I have largely been playing in first person view as that makes the most sense while racing a bike, but when you’re totally focused, leaning over a bike traveling at 150 MPH with the sound of air roaring past your head to the point where you can only just hear your engine screaming in pain at being pushed so hard, it creates a sense of immersion that I haven’t felt from a racing game in a long time.
In case you were wondering, you’re not just solely on the Isle of Man, doing lap after lap of one of the best racetracks in existence; there are a total of 10 different tracks, all being street tracks, but while some are locked into the standard TT race style (Where each rider leaves one at a time trying to get the best lap time), the others can be raced in the traditional matter where you’re all fighting for first – Only now, when you crash, you don’t just damage your car, you ragdoll off of the bike in some pretty interesting ways. For example, I was driving around a corner, misjudged my exit speed, hit a rock on the way out and boom, the most acrobatic front flip you’ve seen outside of the Olympics… It was majestic and painful at the same time!
Earlier I said that, normally, I can jump straight into a game and win a race without really thinking about it… This game was a completely new story. I had to learn how to deal with the new style of racing, I had to teach myself about the flow of bikes and how transitioning between corners is seriously important, and all of this comes down to the most important part of this type of racing game, how the bike feels to control. If you remember playing Watch Dogs, you always ended up driving around in a car because the bikes where so horrible to drive… Having a weird auto centre of the bike that ended up feeling unnatural. This is not the case with this game; its smooth, accurate, and flowing – If you mess up in this game, it’s your fault, not the game’s or the track’s… So everything I’ve said about this game makes it sound like one of the best games ever. And it is a brilliant racing experience, but it’s not perfect. No game ever is.
My problem with this game is it feels a little bare-boned; Yes, it looks amazing. Yes, the bikes handle exactly as expected. Yes, I could sit in front of the game for two days without leaving… But besides just sitting and throwing myself into race into race, I want to be able to develop my rider; perhaps like an RPG Racing game where you learn skills to be able to make races easier on yourself; the game does feature a fan system to show how popular you are, but I would like to see the game implement a system where you can gain and lose fans through interviews and in-game actions; say you have a great race but instead of thanking the team, you take all the credit, I want to lose fans for that selfish action and take a hit to my reputation and possibly my sponsors. Say you have a crap race, you could still gain fans if you deal with the press correctly and humbly – It would just add another layer to the immersion that I haven’t seen before, and benefit the game overall… But that’s better suited for an expansion or something.
There is also just one other thing I wish that the game could do. In many cases I have been driving around a corner and everything’s going fine, then suddenly I’m thrown off of the bike. I know full well that the fault is my own, but I don’t know what the fault was due to having never ridden a bike, (Apart from that time I got on a friend’s bike… That interesting story may come in the future), I have no idea what is happening or how to deal with it. If the game had some deep analysis or review theatre mode about what I did wrong so that I could improve, it would take this game to a whole new level.
So with all that, it’s time to give it a score. It’s not a perfect 10, as in my eyes, I don’t think a game can ever be a perfect 10… But this is still a stunning game. I’m going to give this game a 9/10; we have a long way to go, but this game is already in the running’s for my Game Of The Year, personally.