TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge 2
Developed By: KT Racing
Published By: Nacon
Category: Racing, Simulation, Sports
Release Date: 05.14.20
My relationship with TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge 2 for the Nintendo Switch did not get off to a good start. Before I could make a selection for a game type the game asked me if I would like to play a short tutorial. Well, that seemed like a good idea – and, generally, it is. I’m not exactly a racing aficionado, so getting a little extra education really helps me out when getting into a game. The problem is that the way the tutorial is implemented actually hindered my ability to acclimate to the game’s flow.
A lot of games will have a text box that freezes the game and explains certain controls or pieces of the game’s theory, or perhaps a series of short tracks that focus on one aspect of the game preceded by an explanation of said aspect. Here, on a single track, the game screen greys out and the gameplay slows down before displaying the directions, and then when you’ve hit the right buttons, it slowly returns to normal game speed. Right off the bat, it’s a jarring to have to learn to play the game when the game’s speed is constantly slowing down and speeding up. It’s not the biggest deal in the world; the tutorial is five minutes long and is mostly there to teach you the basic controls rather than the whole game, but it’s never good when a player’s first exposure to a game is built around uneven pacing that doesn’t reflect the actual game.
Luckily, the actual game smooths out it’s pace considerably – but that doesn’t mean it’s without its troubles. The biggest issue I had with the game was that it just took a very long time to get acclimated to the controls – longer than any racing game I’ve ever played, personally. The layout of the controls can be incredibly simple, depending on the options you choose; stop, go, turn, and some camera options are pretty much all there is on the easiest settings. You can also choose to shift gears manually – I didn’t, because I sucked bad enough without having that to worry about, but you can if you want to.
It seems simple, but figuring out the proper way to smoothly take a turn – tight or otherwise – or sometimes even navigate a gentle bend in the road takes a long time – or it took me a long time, anyway. I often found myself wildly overturning, greatly underturning, or not reducing my speed soon enough, and finding the proper way to anticipate how to do all of those things in unison eluded me for some time. I had to play for several hours before I felt like I had a basic grasp of the game’s turning physics, and it was an absolute slog to get there. To help you learn the theory behind handling a course, you can turn guiding lines on to show you the optimal path to follow on a track, but actually following them – and at a manageable speed – is another matter entirely.
The physics system is a bit of a drag, as well – although I’m certain it’s actually a very accurate reflection of reality. Earlier on especially, it felt like every little thing would case me to spin out send my rider flying off the bike. And, at the speeds I was travelling, that’s pretty much exactly what would happen – with the exception of the fact that every single one of those riders would have died horribly in real life. It’s just a little frustrating for the learning curve to have so many things to learn to manage with so little immediate indicators of how well you’re doing – you can incrementally improve your time all you want, but if you’re still coming in last place every time it just gets a little discouraging.
I don’t want to sound like my time with this game was all doom and gloom; it wasn’t. Once I felt like I had a grasp of the mechanics I became more competitive with each successive race in the game’s career mode – and it felt like I had actually accomplished something when I finally crossed that finish line in first place. It took a while to get there, sure, but that only added to the satisfaction when I did finally break through. This is not a game that will ever hold your hand – even on its easiest setting, it will punish you until you’re not sure why you wanted to play this thing in the first place. This is a game for people that get a thrill from the challenge of controlling raw speed – which is another of the game’s high points. One you’re not crashing all the time, you realize that these bikes go fast, and on a TV you really feel every bit of that speed – the effect is somewhat muted if you’re playing undocked, unfortunately.
The diversity of gameplay options and depth of content available in TT Isle of Man 2 is another high point. There are several single player modes; the time attack mode and single race modes are probably the best for learning the racing aspects of the game, but I found the free ride mode to be the best for learning the very basic basics of actually driving a motorcycle in the game. Free ride basically sees you taking a bike for a ride around the countryside; you can drive around the roads, making turns and just generally learning how turning works, such as the best ways to regulate your speed around curves without the pressure of competing in a race. The game features both online and offline multiplayer options, as well, once you feel like maybe you’re good enough to not embarrass yourself in front of other players. I may be projecting some feelings onto you, here.
The game’s final single player option, career mode, boasts enough depth to be a worthwhile game all its own, even without the benefit of any other game types. In addition to the schedule of races to progress through in search of fame and fortune, you can use the garage to tinker with your bike to fit your preferences or buy new bikes to use. There is a challenge mode that sees you… well, completing challenges. That’s pretty self-explanatory in any game, I guess. You can sign a contract with a team for each season, which opens up new custom livery and offers further rewards for hitting certain incentives during the season. The better you do, the farther you get in the circuit, allowing you to open up new tracks in new regions. Completing races also unlocks perks, which are single-use items that give you bonuses during or after a race – either enhancing certain aspects of your bikes or enlarging your rewards.
Probably the game’s only pure negative drawback is the quality of the visuals. The graphics would look fantastic on a PS2, but entirely underwhelming on a PS3. That would have been passable with decent gameplay ten years ago, but now we’re a generation past the PS3 already, with another gen set to launch by the end of the year. This is all a longwinded way of saying that the game doesn’t look very good in action, and for the graphical quality, the load times feel a little long – more than a minute in most cases. I checked out gameplay videos from other consoles on Youtube, and they all look a hundred times sharper than the Switch version. It’s disappointing. And that’s all before you get to the occasional graphical slowdown – not stuttering, but slowdown – which does not pair well with the game’s speed. The quality of the graphics drops even further if you’re playing undocked – clearly, getting this game to run on the Switch called for some unfortunately rather big compromises in the graphics department.
It took me a long time to get into TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge 2. The learning curve is sharper than any turn in the game’s racetracks, and it’s going to throw a lot of more casual gamers off the bike pretty early on. I think sticking with it is worth it, though; it’s very fulfilling when you actually get a grip on how everything works and begin succeeding in races. It has plenty of game modes that offer different ways to feed your need for speed, and one that just lets you take a relaxing drive around the Irish countryside – and other countrysides, too, eventually, if that’s what you want. The Switch port suffers from vastly inferior graphics to other versions, however, and that’s probably the hardest hurdle for me to get over personally. Overall, this is a game for speed freaks who can’t resist a real challenge; maybe that’s a limited market, but no game caters to it better than this one.
Buy TT Isle of Man Ride on the Edge 2
Digital – $59.99
Follow KT Racing
*A game code was provided for review purposes.