Thank you Bigben Interactive for sending us the review code for TT Isle of Man on the Nintendo Switch!
I remember being a kid and thinking of myself as being indestructible. I lived on an Air Force base in the middle of the Napa Valley in sunny California, and I wanted to prove to all my friends that I could master “The Hill.” This massive and steep natural wonder sat behind my house, and it invited me and my friends to conquer it daily. I would not let my friends call me a coward or get the best of me in this regard; I needed to race my bike down that hill, so I did. I remember the exhilaration and the speed as my stomach slowly crept up through my throat. My friends cheered me on as my bike flew down the hill at a million miles an hour! Of course, I didn’t realize that a vehicle’s maneuverability is lost as it picks up speed. At the bottom of the hill was a small path where golf carts travel on, and one of those just happened to be down there when I approached. Let’s just say that the wreck went down into legend.
Well, my broken leg did heal over time, and I never again rode down the “The Hill,” but my desire for speed remained. As the graphics in games improved, I fell more and more in love with modern racing games. Kart games like Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing are only as good as their brand, while simulation racing games are more accurate titles concerning racing. TT Isle of Man is one of those games. I had the privilege of playing this title for the last two weeks, and I was both surprised and a little disappointed by this “speed simulator.”
It is important to first note that this game is based on an actual annual international race known as the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race, or TT for short. The race itself takes place each year between May and June on the Isle of Man, a small, independent island situated between Ireland and England in the Irish Sea. It features multiple race categories ranging from the types of bikes that are used to the length of the individual track. Everything from the lightning-fast superbikes to the two-person manned sidecar bikes are used in the competition. Over the last 100+ years, it has come to be known as the World’s Greatest Street Race. The game itself is modeled after this event, and it is done with incredible detail.
TT Isle of Man (speaking of the game from now on), is not only a racing simulator, but it is also a scale model of the race that it is based on. Each detail of the famous “mountain track” has been rendered into the game so that the player feels as if he or she is zooming through the scenic English landscape. I have personally never seen a game in which the developer went to such lengths to hold to the accuracy of the event that it is based on. For that reason, TT Isle of Man stands out as a visually stunning title.
This game was originally placed on the PC and created to push the boundaries of realism. With that in mind, the port to console, particularly the Switch, has lost some of its visual beauty. When playing this game on handheld mode, the images appear to be pixelated, even though the movements are incredibly smooth. This hurts the gameplay experience quite a bit, and it doesn’t help the replay value either. When the Switch is docked, very few improvements are made with the graphic quality, so fans may be better off experiencing this game on a stronger machine.
Despite the graphical limitations of the Switch, the entire game, including the DLC, is available for people to play portably on the system. That includes being able to choose from a list of actual racers and use their signature motorcycle builds to compete with. Each bike can be customized to account for speed, drag, maneuverability, and the such. The details put into the bikes and part selections only help to heighten the simulation that this game provides. However, each new tweak on the bike can cause some major changes in the way that it handles, and that can make for a very bumpy ride.
This game prides itself on realism, and the way the bikes handle around corners is a part of that. Depending on the build that you use for your cycle, you will either make or break your performance on the road. I tinkered with various bikes and riders and found that any build I chose did me little good during a race; I just couldn’t keep from getting into wrecks. This game is so realistic that everything from manually shifting gears to breaking and steering must be completed with pinpoint precision in order to at least finish the race. It takes a steady hand, and Switch controls may not provide the precision needed in order to make the surgical turns the game requires.
Overall, my major gripe about this game is its player accessibility and challenge. Most racing games allow players to hop right behind the wheel of a vehicle and take off with relative ease, but TT Isle of Man does not provide that “smooth learning curve.” Since this game is a racing simulator, all the physics required to succeed in an actual motorcycle race are in play here. That means the player must learn how to ride a superbike much like a motorist learns how to drive. The only redeeming factor in the high difficulty of this game is that the player can respawn on his bike almost instantaneously after he crashes. That helps to alleviate most of the rage that this game can produce.
This game does allow for up to 8 players to race against each other either locally or online. If you wish to race online with strangers, be prepared to learn what master of this game really looks like as many of the players are quite skilled with their bikes. This only serves to prove that the game is not broken but requires a great deal of practice in order to become a true contender.
To the thrill of this genre’s fans, TT Isle of Man is nothing more than a racing simulator. With that said, there really are no major moral considerations to take into account when playing this game. There is no foul language or nudity of any kind, just a bunch of motorcycles racing around various scenic roadways within the English Isles. However, I will add that when there is a crash, and there will be many of those, the rider does fail around with ragdoll physics. That in itself is not terrible, but it can be unsettling for some players.
TT Isle of Man is an absolutely gorgeous motorcycle racing simulator that caters to fans of the sport but ultimately fails to resonate with the larger player base. The detail placed in the scenery is not shared with the gameplay and controls, so many players may be turned away from this title due to accessibility and challenge. With the actual race being postponed this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, perhaps this game may be the best way for many who would usually attend the race to participate firsthand. Either way, TT Isle of Man is a good racing simulator for anyone who has the patience for learning and mastering the fine art of supersport racing.