A love letter to one of the most dangerous events in sports, this stripped down racer delivers where it counts.
TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge is a racing game for a very particular type of racing fan. Officially licensed by the event of the same name, it may pique the interest of many motorsport enthusiasts thanks to its notorious legacy. Unlike many other popular racing sims out there, this is as lean as you could imagine. Offering little content outside its main draw, it still delivers where it counts.
Developed by the French studio Kylotonn Games, who you may remember from the more recent World Rally Championship games, it has traded in one niche for another. Instead of driving rally cars down winding dirt roads, TT Isle of Man focuses in on blindingly fast superbikes and, of course, the infamous Isle of Man TT event itself. It comes as a retribution of sorts for a studio who also brought us the much maligned Motorcycle Club from 2014.
There haven’t been many opportunities in gaming to race the raw, primal event itself which is why so many may find TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge so exciting. Boasting a stellar recreation of the Snaefell Mountain racetrack, Kylotonn has stitched it together through laser scanning the public roads that make up the course in real life. Racing the thing in its entirety takes a good 20 minutes, every single one of them a magnificent piece of motorsport recreation. From the small town of Douglas into the Snaefell mountain itself, it’s a marvel to behold. The game is more than this, of course, as it also hosts a number of fictional race tracks, but nothing can compare to the grandness of its main selling point.
The game itself is rendered beautifully as well. Whether you’re racing in third-person mode watching your rider’s knees barely skid the pavement as they bank into turns or in the first-person handle-cam, this is a good looking game. Although it can’t compare to the bigger-budgeted juggernauts of racing sim genre, it’s still difficult to tell footage from the event and the game itself apart. Though there is a sense of no-nonsense to the game’s HUD and menus that ripples throughout the philosophy of the entire game, it's hard to complain. There isn’t much to get in the way of what TT Isle of Man is trying to do - which is be a great racing game.
To that end, it’s hard to argue against its main components. The robust collection of bikes is wildly different to the hefty cars of Kylotonn’s previous WRC games, usually coming with less grip and weight which can make them difficult to control. The handling model feels twitchy on a gamepad, and occasionally feels out of your control when turning into corners. With various assists and settings, the game is able to cater towards your experience level, but there will still be countless crashes that are hard to explain. While most of the time things work as intended, the small moments when they don’t stick out like a sore thumb, especially when stacked up against more veteran motorcycle racers like Ride and MotoGP.
Of course, outside of the game’s main exhibition and career modes, there is little else to do. While the career mode itself is satisfying, albeit a bit less interesting than similar experiences found elsewhere, many of the features that have become standard in the genre are nowhere to be found. There’s no way to customise your bikes, nor is there any option for rewinding after you crash. While it’s easy to admit that a rewind function isn’t integral to a game’s experience, since TT Isle of Man has so many lengthy races it can be frustrating ruining a race due to a single mistake.
Another disappointing factor is the lack of any historical approach to the Isle of Man TT. The event itself, which is popular and storied enough to have multiple documentaries made on the subject, could have easily offered some sort of bonus option to relive historic races or important events. Instead, the game seems unconcerned with anything outside of racing in the Isle of Man TT proper, selling itself solely on that singular form of wish-fulfillment. While it may be one hell of a wish to be granted, it’s hard not to leave wanting more from one of the premiere motorcycle racing games out at the moment.
All in all, TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge is a delightful recreation of the event itself yet it exists in a genre populated by games that far exceed it. It’s all the more unfortunate since the core of the game could easily support a more robust and interesting package. There is clearly of love of motorsport running through the veins of the game, but it does little to identify itself as anything more than a love letter to the most dangerous event in motorsport.
TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge is available on PC, Xbox One and PS4. We reviewed the Xbox One version.