Isle of Man TT: Ride On The Edge 3 (it's a catchy title but I'll refer to it as ROTE3 from here on) features the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy-the most epic, dangerous and spectacular road race in the world. Run on a course of over 37 miles (60 kms) around the roads of the Isle of Man, the mammoth lap consists of 264 bends (I counted them–honest) and sections on which speeds of over 180 mph are achievable by the skillful, brave, or plain mad.
It's been a couple of weeks since the Isle of Man baked during the blisteringly hot 2023 TT races, where Peter Hickman, Michael Dunlop and Dean Harrison pretty much divided up the honours between them. We've been playing ROTE3 ever since, and have to say, this is an absolutely brilliant representation of the real thing–just the right side of "arcadey" when dialled back but "simmy" enough to please everyone with the difficulty turned up and the assists off.
The big difference between Ride on the Edge 3 and previous games is the fact that it now plays as an open sandbox with various short races, time trials and challenges dotted around the map, which covers a good part of the Isle of Man, with the main Snaefell Mountain TT Course and 124 miles (200 km) of open roads, back roads and narrow lanes modelled in for good measure. The bikes look very nice and the rider is superbly animated, and you'll see them operate the brakes, clutch and lean when they should (you can make the rider's movement and weight transfer automatic or player controlled.) The lighting is particularly good, and as you burst out of a dark, leafy lane into brilliant sunshine your eyes will thank you for purchasing the game.
The game includes several real TT riders, bikes & teams, and gives a remarkably realistic impression of speed and danger. You can do both Supersport and Superbike seasons simultaneously, with the same or different riders if you wish. Initially even the Supersport bikes are a bit of a handful, with practice you will feel all the excitement and tension this incredible race venue generates, right down to cheering fans and spectacularly violent crashes.
The bikes handle much like many other bike racing games, and I still don't believe you need to lean a bike over as much as you do in-game to make small adjustments to your line. Other than that, grip levels, gear changes, brakes, wheelies and everything else feel spot on, and the vibration effects are very good–the controller rumbles when the tyres scrabble for grip or you change gear. Tweeks to the setup in the garage really do alter the bike's handling, albeit in subtle ways. I must say, the default setups are pretty darned good though. Physics & Handling settings of 'Beginner,' 'Intermediate' and 'Realistic' alter the way the bike behaves.
On our Xbox Series X the game runs at almost a perfect 60fps, which is lovely and smooth for a game so reliant on pinpoint accurate control. I said "almost" because the game does suffer a couple of frame rate jitters, but only on some of the tight bends. Of course, you could say the frame rate should be good as most of the time the game engine is only drawing one bike (or part of it), unlike the Moto GP and WSB games. But when in multi-competitor races, rather than the usual time trials, the game stays smooth with up to 10 bikes on screen, with only hairpins to cause the occasional jitter.
If you struggle in full sim mode (and you will) ABS (Anti-Lock Brakes), TCS (Traction Control), AWS (Anti-Wheelie) and EBS (Electronic Braking) assists can be turned on and adjusted individually through 3 levels on the fly–regardless of your chosen difficulty setting. None of these aids are going to make the game easy as such, but they definitely make it easier.
A Journal full of info about the TT and the game's features is unlockable by finding the discovery points on the map, and you're going to need to ride every road and back lane to do that!
The game supports Leaderboards and addictive TT Esports against other players. You can also make your own Single Player and Multiplayer Custom events on any of the circuits, defining whether you have practice, qualifying, number of laps, time of day, weather conditions, number of competitors, AI skill level, starting method, tyre wear and your starting grid position.
The game is playable from 6 different camera views, from a distant chase cam to an immersive in-helmet cam. Photo Mode may not quite be up there with Gran Turismos or F1s or Forzas, but it's pretty darned good and you can obtain some stunning shots. The replay mode is pretty good too, with a large selection of cameras including TV-style trackside views.
Apart from the occasional frame rate drop the only other complaints I have are the lack of a mid-race game save, which with the length of even the shorter TT laps is a major problem for many gamers who play in family surroundings rather than a gamers den or man cave. The Xbox's 'Quick Resume' feature is a real bonus here. I strongly recommend using any long straight to pause the game and blink every now and then. Another thing is that while the wet weather effect is really good, a lot of developers overuse rain wildly (Codemasters I'm looking at YOU), and it's the case here with Raceward and ROTE3 as every other race or time trial seems to be set in rainy weather.
Isle of Man TT: Ride On The Edge 3 may be both a mouthful and a handful, but it's simply the best bike sim Racer we've played since MXGP 2021. While they lie at opposite ends of the bike racing spectrum, in my opinion that's praise indeed. This is a simulation for the best, the bravest and the maddest.