Read Stuart’s column every week in The Scottish Sun, where he shares his reviews, news and podcasts with the 99.3% of the World’s population not fortunate enough to be able to buy a physical copy of the paper. The following appeared originally in The Scottish Sun on Sunday 15th April 2018.
BIKING legend John McGuinness is the perfect man to talk about the new TT game. For one, the 23-time winner knows everything there is to know about the iconic island race. For two, he takes no prisoners — neither does the race and neither does the game. So it was no surprise that Kylotonn and Big Ben got in touch. McGuinness said:
There is no escaping the realism on this game. You have to experience it to really appreciate the precision of the course and what Big Ben have re-created. I have been racing for over 20 years now at the Isle of Man and feel I can navigate my way around the course quite well. It takes many years to build your experience there and, when you are actually racing, it’s not a sport for the faint-hearted. When I have played the game, I can feel some of the senses that kick in before I actually race at the TT. Lining up on the start line, a grandstand packed with fans, the official waiting to tap your shoulder giving you the signal to set off towards St Ninian’s Cross Road and down Brey Hill. Ride On The Edge will certainly put you as close to the real thing as you possibly can be, without actually racing the event itself.
McGuinness reckons young riders could learn from playing the game. He added:
For a newcomer to the TT, a young racer wanting to learn the course before doing the real thing, this is the perfect tool. When I’m playing the game, I can even see the actual braking markers that I use in the race. Buildings, lamp posts and even markings or undulations on the road that give me messages when I am racing, can all be found in the game. That is the level of detail that you will find. For the fans, it’s a chance to be a TT racer for the day.
McGuinness admitted helping with the game had brought its own highlights. It features TT legend Joey Dunlop’s bike. Joey had won the TT 26 times, but passed away in 2000. McGuinness said:
When I was asked in 2013 to ride the Joey Dunlop replica, in the same leathers and helmet, I have to say that it was one of the most memorable moments in my career. I was fortunate enough to not only to race against Joey, but also be his teammate. As a kid, I had Joey Dunlop pictures all over my bedroom wall.
Joey was the greatest. He epitomised everything about our sport and just went about his business in a very humble way. To me, a game about the TT must include something about the most successful TT racer ever and I think this inclusion was a very nice tribute to Joey and his family. I’m sure the fans will appreciate this and I know that it was given with the full blessing of the Dunlop family.
But McGuinness admits he is quicker in real life than on the virtual track — and he need a bit of help from his SON. He laughed:
I certainly think that I will need a little more practice on the game before I am posting times similar to that of when I am racing. But it is coming together and I’m getting quicker with some useful tips from my son Ewan, I think I could be up there with the best of them.
To read the full interview with John McGuinness about his experiences making the TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge game, just follow this link.
TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £44.99)
THE real-life bid to be King Of The Mountain in the TT races is an epic challenge. The good news for gamers is that the virtual version is just as exciting. The legendary road race on the Isle of Man makes thrilling viewing. But, if you want to be the master then you will have to conquer the 250 corners on each 37.7-mile lap. It is about time that the event got the games treatment. French developers Kylotonn have opted for the full-on sim route and it takes no prisoners.
If you recognise the name — they are the guys behind the official WRC games but they have effortlessly made the switch from four to two wheels. A word of warning — TT Isle Of Man: Ride On The Edge is well named. You are right on the edge. This game is a brute. It is truly unforgiving and is probably one of the hardest racers I have ever played. It actually makes Dark Souls look like a walk in the park — and it is not slow in letting you know it. You will be high-siding it regularly throughout the tutorial, let alone in the actual game. A word of warning, the sequel — you will need bucket loads of time and even more patience.
There are two main modes. Career sees you work your way up the ranks to a TT win. However, you start with a Supersport bike and have to race to get cash to buy new bikes which lets you race in more races. That’s fair enough but you also have to find cash to fix your bike if you crash. Our own Scottish Sun racer assures me that that is a very real feeling, but it is no fun to blow a good championship because you have run out of money. It actually brings it home that finishing sixth is sometimes better than pushing for a win and crashing. Bigger picture, guys. The other mode lets you take on any race you want with any bike so you can practice without paying for the damage.
You get an interesting mix of tracks beyond the full TT. They help with the learning process before diving on to the TT course — and that is a good thing because each lap of the full course takes 24 minutes. You can also try out lap sections if they are defeating you. You can pick from most of last year’s teams in the Superbike and Supersport classes as well as being riders like Michael Rutter or Michael and William Dunlop. Sadly, you can’t be Guy Martin. The game is stunning when you are going 120mph down a country road and the sun is breaking through the trees, but some of the slow bits are rough. The bikes sound awesome, but you may need a Spotify list during races. The biggest issue is the difficulty. There are no short cuts but that doesn’t stop it being an epic racer.
MX vs ATV: All Out (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £44.99)
IT’S fair to say that the MX vs ATV series has had a few ups and downs in its history. We have had Unleashed. We’ve had Untamed. Sadly, we had Supercross which was more of a Superflop. Now we have All Out. THQ Nordic and Rainbow Studios have kept the arcade racer feel to deliver a feast of motocross and off-road fun. This one harks back to classic racers. There is a mix of bikes and off-road vehicles on indoor and outdoor tracks.
It does take a bit of practice if you want to perfect your cornering speed or timing your jump boosts, but that extra depth is a neat addition. There is an open world element where you can attack events and find collectables, but the highlights are the tracks. You can take part in standard races, but the stunt events are good fun and mixed bike and buggy races are intense. When you are not racing in solo mode, you can see how good you really are by going online against friends. There is a ghost time in races so you can hone your skills. There is also a healthy level of customisation for your rider and your bike. You can even get to work on the mechanics so you can squeeze that little bit of extra speed out of your machine.
The graphics have a last-gen feel and lack any real polish. It would have been good to see your bike cutting up the mud on the tracks as you blast round or the grass and trees moving in the wind. It is all a bit flat and rough. The soundtrack is not much better. It does the job and no more. The biggest sin is the sound of the bikes. A two-stroke should not sound like a chicken being thrown in a washing machine falling off a cliff. There is only so much high-pitched whining you can take. But even that is not the biggest problem. The leaking framerate is an absolute killer. When you have a game that is built on speed then you need it to be smooth – one minute you are going like a rocket, the next you are juddering around a corner. Rainbow Studios are patching the game so let’s hope they can plug that hole very quickly. If you’re a fan of the series then these problems may not stop you having a blast with All Out. If they get them sorted then the rest of us might also have a good laugh.
On The Stream
RACHEL Shackleton has been streaming just over a year. The Scot focuses on creating a family-friendly environment and looking at the positive vibes in gaming — and she just hopes her audience has as much fun as she does in streaming. She plays a variety of games but her main targets are role-players like Dark Souls and Legend Of Zelda.
I have a regular streaming schedule — trying to stream at least three days a week but I would love to be able to do more one day.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…