Very few games in this world have ever been able to put us on the fence for a long time, and Ride! Equestrian Simulation is one of them. And by being on the fence, we mean being able to decide whether this is a truly exemplary niche title or a game that needs to be sent back to the drawing boards. Now of course, we will not be handing out our verdicts outright without letting readers learn of our experiences with this game (or you can choose skip to the bottom of this article). So here's our first hand review of Dancing Dot's in-depth horse riding game: Ride! Equestrian Simulation.
Release Date: 17/07/2007
Available on: Windows Games, Downloadable PC Games
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- Download Game at Big Fish
Looks can be Deceiving
The game's user interface and actual gameplay suffers a bit of a design dilemma. All the necessary elements are present, but the layout has not been well planned. The result is that not only does the game's color lack any degree of pizzazz, but it is also counter intuitive in terms of controls. We can forgive the colors and the details of the game –after all, it is catered specifically for horse riding fans and they will certainly appreciate it. The control system and layout however still get negative points.
The actually gameplay itself could certainly do with a much better HUD and camera controls, but aside from that, the visuals are actually pretty aesthetically pleasing. Though a bit of animation from the crowds in the background and a little motion in the trees would have certainly done wonders for the game; as expected, the horses are the most well animated visual elements players will encounter.
In terms of music, the game is limited in its tracks and the tunes do get a little boring to listen to at times. Fortunately, players will be so focused on the game's challenging stages that there will be little time to appreciate the tunes in the background. The sound effects are a give and take. While the echoing thunder of your horse does make one feel involved in the game, the voice over of the trained simply want to make us shut down the audio. At the very least, pressing spacebar allows you to skip the dialogue –too bad this does not apply to those times when you need to read the details of the tutorial and introduction portions properly.
Tough Game for a Tough Crowd
Ride brings challenge in a way that only its target market can understand. We could waste a lot of time discussing the finer points of professional horseback riding events, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to two simple factors: it is a tough world that involves not only a rider, but also a horse (which has a mind and will of its own), and that during the events, competitors have little to no room for error.
This on its own is a major challenge: in a car race, your steering skills dictate your performance. When riding a horse, your steed's attitude, temperament and its trust in your commands determines what actions it will perform after you give an order. As it is, the game replicates the horse's self will only through the jump sequences, but even with that one factor alone, being able to establish a bond with your ride is an important part of this game.
The gameplay for Ride is split into three different types of competitions. The first is the dressage event which features controls similar to dance games, the other two are the racing and show jumping events. This is where players ride a horse and take it through various courses that consist of being able to reach the finish goal in the least amount of time while successfully jumping over all the obstacles.
Only for Fans
This is not a game for folks who simply want to know that it is like to own a pony and play with it as highlighted perfectly by www.pony4u.co.uk in their review of the game. Ride's target market is pretty focus: for people who want to know what the career of an pro-level equestrian is like. With its complex controls, high difficulty and mid range graphics, Ride has all the elements to make it a bad game. But it delivers on its promise to riding fans: to deliver an equestrian simulation that is true to the spirit of the sport. Ride is an unpolished jewel of a game for a very small niche, and certainly not a game for all. We give this game a stubborn gelding's 82/100.
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