Tak­ing it to the streets

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Paul Tay­lor

Ev­ery year, the Isle of Man hosts a mo­tor­cy­cle race where 1,000cc su­per­bikes tear around a street cir­cuit that rips through a mix­ture of beau­ti­ful coun­try­side and neigh­bour­hoods framed by night­mar­ish cob­ble­stone walls. On av­er­age, 1.3 rid­ers die here ev­ery sin­gle year in one of the dead­li­est races that’s un­fath­omably al­lowed to take place. The track makes the Nord­schleife look like a kid­dies’ prac­tice loop – and lucky you gets to pi­lot a rocket on wheels around this fe­ro­cious loop.

Ky­lo­tonn has made a de­cent fist of cap­tur­ing the drama of it all too. That largely comes down to the feel and lo­ca­tion of the 60km track, which is truly un­like any­thing in rac­ing games. Laser-scanned and faith­fully recre­ated, it rev­els in the small de­tails of the treach­er­ous cir­cuit and the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Frankly, it’s taken far too many years for the Isle of Man to make it to “Ev­ery big hit into a wall or fence sends your rider and bike tum­bling” your Xbox One, and mas­ter­ing it will take a while. You can tackle the whole thing in one big hit if you want, though the saner op­tion is to break it up into chunks in the point-to-point events. These sec­tions will pre­pare you for the 20-minute jaunt, but ei­ther way you’re in for a stiff chal­lenge as there are 264 cor­ners to line up and mem­o­rise.

The main Isle of Man route – Snae­fell Moun­tain – is only part of the pack­age. Also in­cluded are tracks from Scot­land, North­ern Ire­land and Wales, but the moun­tain course is the jewel here. While each cir­cuit is en­gag­ing they’re graph­i­cally mid­dling with so-so tex­tures and ef­fects that lack that spark that could take this from promis­ing to spec­tac­u­lar. These ex­tra lo­ca­tions are fic­tional, with de­vel­oper Ky­lo­tonn vis­it­ing dock­yards and coun­try­side around the United King­dom that lack the bite and fe­roc­ity of the tit­u­lar track.

Rewind on your mind

Thank­fully the han­dling takes cen­tre stage to keep you en­gaged. Drab pre­sen­ta­tion is made up for by the heft and move­ment of the bikes which err firmly on the sim­u­la­tion side with gen­er­ous as­sists bolted on to make them man­age­able. Turn­ing them off takes guts. Once your speedo clicks up into the 150km/hplus range, your rider starts to feel the buf­fet­ing winds, the bike’s wind­screen starts to vi­brate and shake, and that 30fps limit doesn’t feel so lim­it­ing af­ter all.

Ky­lo­tonn’s built on its ex­pe­ri­ence and suc­cess with the WRC se­ries, and the ex­tra chal­lenge of manag­ing front and rear brakes in­de­pen­dently will re­ally give you some­thing to chew on. As will weight man­age­ment, es­pe­cially with the big­ger bikes that un­der heavy throt­tle can send your rider pitch­ing over the back of the rear cowl. Push­ing for­ward on the left stick makes your rider hun­ker down, and your thumbs will be in a constant dance be­tween the straights and the curves. An al­ter­na­tive con­trol scheme which in­cor­po­rates the right stick for throt­tle and brake works well.

Get­ting to grips with it all takes pa­tience, es­pe­cially as the tu­to­rial is thin­ner than an anti-vaxxer’s ar­gu­ment. Work­ing out the nu­ance of the bikes takes trial and er­ror. Ev­ery big hit into a wall or fence sends your rider sprawl­ing, and re­sults in a painful-look­ing an­i­ma­tion of this rag­doll fig­ure bounc­ing down the tar­mac, and the bike tum­bling af­ter. Just as an­guish­ing is the lack of a rewind func­tion, mak­ing ev­ery mis­take hurt – and this a ded­i­cated rider’s rac­ing game.

It’s a shame that the ca­reer mode is anaemic, and the AI barely there. Ky­lo­tonn’s opted for a diary that pur­ports to of­fer a nar­ra­tive of your suc­cess, but it’s more a check­list to churn through with op­po­si­tion that rarely chal­lenges. Still, this is a unique propo­si­tion, and one that de­serves your at­ten­tion for that truly daz­zling main track.

right TT Isle Of Man gets the sense of speed ab­so­lutely right.

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