I imagine almost everyone who’s ever ridden a motorcycle has heard the same worried refrain from their mum about how motorcycles claim thousands of lives on the road every year. For those who decide to put mum’s mind at rest and stick to a car, TT: Isle of Man is a great consolation prize, an earnest and dedicated tribute to one of the world’s most popular and dangerous sporting events.
The Isle of Man motorcycle race is to superbike fans what the Bathurst 1000 is to fans of Australian motor sport — both the world’s greatest track and home to the world’s greatest race. Picturesque surrounds, menacing track design and a legacy of greatness. And now you can race it from the comfort of your own home without every having to make your mum worry you’re going to slip a gear and pick up some gravel rash at 200km/h.
TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge is the first superbike racing game in recent memory to really do the actual IRL race any kind of justice in its adaptation. The superbike racing genre is a rather anaemic one compared to its car-centric cousins and, while developers like Milestone are the ones the industry turns to for the over-the-top excess of motorcross, and Kylotonn Games have their Ride franchise for the superbike fans but … that’s really about it.
As far as the act of driving and riding a superbike goes, all of these games, TT Isle of Man included, are extremely well-made, lovingly crafted works. They are produced by people with a genuine affection for the sport. Here, that love has been translated into a game that looks beautiful and recreates the sensation of riding a motorcycle in exacting detail.
It’s a very beautiful game, in the tradition of graphical show pony racers like Forza Motorsport 7 and GT, the lovingly rendered scenery whipping by at breakneck speed. All of the game’s tracks sing, making you want to look around and take it all in even as you frantically throttle up and down to make it through snake-like turns and unexpected chicanes.
The handling of the bikes in the game also feels truer to life than it does in other games. They’re weightier, they feel incredibly fast, every bump you roll over is transmitted directly through the controller. All of these things make you very aware of the cardinal rider’s rule which is: Treat the bike with the respect and discipline it demands or it will throw you off without a second thought. Every corner feels designed to make you tense like a coiled spring, fearful that your ride might be snatched from under you by nothing more than errant placement of your wheels.
So that’s the good part. Sadly, the rest of TT Isle of Man is a bit downhill from there. Career mode is about as varied and lively as looking into a bare cupboard. There’s only a small roster of bikes and the competitor AI feels like it’s content to go through the motions, frequently letting you into first place and then never really challenging you on it.
Beyond that, the other significant point of interest is in the Isle of Man track itself. Everything else feels like fluff and chuffa. There’s no mode or challenge that is as interesting to me as the game’s near-flawless simulation of the joy of actually being on the bike. If that’s your thing, you’ll be well served. If you want something with the depth of a Gran Turismo, you’ll be left wanting once again.
Score: 7.0 out of 10
Highlights: Gorgeous visuals; Solid track design; Lifelike bike handling
Lowlights: Extremely light on content
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC
Review conducted on Xbox One X with retail code provided by the publisher.