DriveClub Bikes (PS4) review by a biker

When bikers get together, we like to talk about motorcycles. Many of us also love taking photographs of our motorcycles, as well as other motorcycles. We’d then talk about the great motorcycles we hope to own someday. Then when we’re done, we’ll go ride our motorcycles.

Remarkably, the new PlayStation 4 game DriveClub Bikes allows you to do all that from your couch, and in a really stunning way. Of course, any non-biker can get into this racing game, but it’s really a biker’s wet dream… literally and virtually.

You probably won't lean that low even on a dry road.
You probably won’t lean that low even on a dry road. Here, my classic Ducati 1098R battles the new Kawasaki H2.

I don’t think there has been any great motorcycle videogame for a very long time. Then one quietly appeared last month, and I only got to know about DriveClub Bikes when I was casually browsing through the PlayStation Store on my PS4.

It’s designed as a standalone game or as an expansion to the original DriveClub (featuring only cars). I was quite skeptical, as DriveClub didn’t do very well and the other bike game “Ride” launched this year was quite disappointing (buggy, not very fun). But DriveClub Bikes was getting rave reviews online after a week of launching and I decided to try it out. At $27 SGD, it’s not expensive.

I often get to see such beautiful sunset and water reflections when I ride in real life. Just not at this speed of course.
I often get to see such beautiful sunset and water reflections when I ride in real life. Just not at this speed or angle, of course.

First, you get impressed by how they’ve used the very latest superbikes from all the major brands – 2015 models of the sexy Yamaha R1, crazy Kawasaki H2, blood-hot Ducati Panigale 1299 and Honda CBR 1000RR. There are 12 bikes for now, and frankly, it’s enough since these are mostly the current top dogs for track days. If you’re looking for a wider range of bikes, you’ve got to look elsewhere until more are added to this game.

List of superbikes in DriveCar Bikes:

  1. Bimota BB3
  2. BMW S1000RR
  3. Ducati 1098 R
  4. Ducati 1299 Panigale S
  5. Ducati Desmosedici RR
  6. Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
  7. Kawasaki Ninja H2
  8. Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 30th Anniversary Edition
  9. KTM RC8 R
  10. MV Agusta F4 RR
  11. Yamaha YZF-R1

The 3D models are all very accurate (sometimes down to the welded joints of a trellis frame) and the game graphics are top-notch, on par with any major racing game on this console generation. It helps that all the graphical development for tracks and environments was already done in the original DriveClub. Evolution Studios just had to work on the bike modelling and physics.

This Ducati 1098R is accurate down to the trellis frame hole sizes.
This Ducati 1098R is accurate down to the trellis frame hole sizes.

Then you find out how fun the gameplay is. It’s a arcade-oriented game, meaning that you can collide with another bike and you just get bumped slightly instead of crashing big-time like Marquez vs Rossi in MotoGP 2015. This is great, because many racing games today focus too much on recreating realistic damage instead of letting you stay on the track.

Yes, your bike will get some scratches, but you won’t see any major part deformation or flying wheels. Some game reviewers complain about that, but they’re missing the point – it’s fun to keep going!

More wet and wild fun.
More wet and wild fun between the Ducati, Kawasaki and Yamaha.

The sense of speed and control is incredible in DriveClub Bikes. I had to stop playing in first-person view as I just couldn’t process the upcoming bends fast enough. So I now play in 3rd-person view. My kids kept saying how real the gameplay looks – be in sunny, winter or rainy weather – and I couldn’t agree more.

I don’t go to the track, but I can tell you the adrenalin rush in this game – when you’re at top speed and slicing between other bikes – is very exhilarating. That’s an achievement in itself, and will make future bikers out of many pimply young gamers (much to their family’s despair, muhaha). My only worry is that some bikers may forget that this is a game with much suspension of reality, and bring the same behavior to the real road.

The game has got all the usual single-player tour or single-game modes and the obligatory multiplayer mode (which all work fine). In stunt game modes, you’ll also get to do wheelies, stoppies and other stunts you’ll never dare to do on your real bike. You’ll also get to ride in more rain or snow than you ever thought possible on a bike.

But the one mode that will get all bikers salivating is the awesome Photo Mode.

Wheeeeelie.
Wheeeeelie on a Bimota BB3.

You get to freeze your bike at any time during a saved replay, then you can adjust photography settings like aperture, shutter speed, damage settings, camera angles, photo filters until the hours quietly fly by.

I don’t know how the game does it, but with clever anti-aliasing and lighting effects, it manages to make every screenshot look like a professionally-taken still image from an action movie. That’s why I’ve been spending more time capturing visuals (shared here in wallpaper friendly format) rather than actually playing and unlocking more bikes.

Once you’re done, you can use the PS4’s native screenshot or video capture modes to save all the goodness to your Facebook or thumbdrive.

Live out your fantasies either in riding or in photography, or both!
Live out your fantasies either in riding or in photography, or both!

I don’t really have many negative things to say about this game because it does so many things right for me as an experienced biker, gamer and photographer. Sure, I wish it could have Dainese suits, Shoei helmets, more street models like Ducati Monsters or Yamaha MT-09… but that’s what Ride the game did and it wasn’t much fun to play.

I love its simple game mechanics and appreciate its punishing demands on “keeping the line”, but novice gamers may find it too difficult and give up by the third race. Take heart – racing games are about being in the zone and memorizing each track till your muscle memory takes over, and it’s satisfying to shave one second off each track with every try.

In short, DriveClub Bikes remembers that “less is more”. It defocuses on the frills, and chooses to deliver great gameplay and superbike porn experiences in spades.

If you’re a biker, just get the game. Then go riding again and try to remember not to speed ok?

Here’s an in-game video I captured to let you have a glimpse of the action.

DriveClub Bikes Wallpapers by Ian Tan

Feel free to use them for your device wallpaper, but remember to tell others where you got it from 🙂

Bimota BB3 in my own custom livery.
Bimota BB3 in my own custom livery.
Beauty at any angle
Beauty at any angle
This is good enough for your wall, not just your device wallpaper.
This is good enough for your wall, not just your device wallpaper.
Two Kawasakis!
Two Kawasakis!
Tunnel vision on a 2015 Yamaha R1.
Tunnel vision on a 2015 Yamaha R1.
More of the R1
More of the R1

One Reply to “DriveClub Bikes (PS4) review by a biker”

  1. Hey guys even i’ve played the driveclub (bikes) on PS4 and its awesomeee. I so liked the gameplay that i recorded it and uploaded to youtube. Riding with the KTM RC8R…SUPERFAST! Check it out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynLV6_l7KdM
    If you like the video guys please let me know or comment below on the video if you want some other bike gameplay. I have everything. KTM ,YAHAMA,KAWASAKI (Ninja h2 the beast!),DUCATI and many more..

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