TT ISLE OF MAN – RIDE ON THE EDGE
Taking it to the streets
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.