Game review: Riders Republic (PS5)
Ubisoft games in recent years have followed a familiar pattern. We’ve seen this with the constant releases of the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry video games. However, there is one new Ubisoft IP released this year that bucks that trend.
Even though Riders Republic is still an open-world video game, the main reason the game feels fresh is that it’s based on the extreme sports genre. Unlike FIFA, NBA and Madden, extreme sports games don’t get released annually, so it’s nice to see one for a change.
This is probably the best extreme sports game to be released in recent years since Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. While Tony Hawk relies on skateboarding, Riders Republic offers more different extreme sports disciplines.
Riders Republic sadly does not include skateboarding. Instead, it focuses on mountain bike racing, snowboarding, skiing, and even flying with a wingsuit. Aside from the discipline of snowboarding, I don’t think the other three sports have been featured in video games that much.
Before you can shred on the open-world environment, you are first prompted to create your own character avatar. Even though you can choose to be either a male or female character, the choice doesn’t really matter too much. Your character will be covered in protective gear for the most part, so there’s no point customising their faces for too long.
After creating your main character, you are transported to the large map to start the game’s tutorial. There are two different approaches to the game that makes it quite interesting. First, there are straight-up racing events where you need to be the first one across the finishing line. Secondly, there are trick events where you need to score big points.
Many of the mountain biking events are for racing, although some also involve wingsuit flying too. If you are playing the game on a PlayStation console, you mainly have to hold down the R2 trigger to pedal the bike to go faster. You can even use a sprint meter to go faster for a brief time if you press the L1 button.
Racing events feel fast and fluid, plus there are different types of terrain to make them feel varied and interesting. The cooler events also are hybrid mountain biking/wingsuit flying races, which are by far the most enjoyable ones to participate in.
Aside from getting first place, there are also some secondary events that you can try to attain more stars. The more stars that you get, the more events and rewards you will receive. Secondary goals can include finishing races without braking, playing on a higher difficulty setting, or doing specific cool-looking tricks.
Speaking of tricks, trick events are the other main focus of Riders Republic. You can do some tricks on a mountain bike, but trick events are primarily for skiing and snowboarding. Unlike an old rare game like Mark McMorris Infinite Air, the controls in this game are much easier and accessible for beginners. I remember struggling to play Mark McMorris Infinite Air as it was too much of a simulation game.
Here in Riders Republic, you essentially only need to press a combination of two face buttons to execute snowboarding and skiing tricks. To do more varied tricks to increase your score, you can press the triggers and the left stick in a specific direction to do grabs and other modifiers.
The face buttons also control your rotation, and you have to hold the button long enough to initiate a perfect landing. If you don’t rotate long enough, you are sure to bail. Certain buttons also allow you to do front flips and backflips.
If you are a true novice in extreme sports games, you can add modifiers like easier landings and rotations. I chose not to do this as it would have made the game too dull, but I appreciate modern developers making games more accessible to players with disabilities.
Riders Republic is quite large as the map features a ton of different events all over the place. The better you do, the faster that you will unlock more events. You can also unlock better bikes, skis and snowboards. Not to mention clothes from sponsors can also be earned during the career mode.
If you get tired of playing the single-player events, there are some multiplayer modes that you can do as well. There are team-based trick events as even big scale races called Mass Races too. Mass Races can fit up to 65 players all in one race! You will have to wait a while to connect to multiplayer games though, because the population count of this game isn’t as large as a Call of Duty title.
The soundtrack of the game was surprisingly really good too. I was happy to hear my favourite band called The Offspring has multiple songs in the game. Ubisoft even included their ‘90s hit ‘All I Want’ too, so it’s not just the recent material included.
While I enjoyed a lot of things about Riders Republic, the worst part about it is probably the outdated graphics. The character models look totally unrealistic, and some of the details in the environments don’t look great either.
Another thing that might annoy some people is that the game can get repetitive the longer you play it. This is because earning stars can get harder and harder, and you may have to repeat the same events more than once to unlock newer content. Not to mention there is also an annoying always online connection needed even if you just want to play only single player events…
That being said, Riders Republic’s tiny flaws did not stop me from enjoying this game. On the contrary, I have to say that it might be Ubisoft’s best game in a long time mainly because it tries to do something different. You should really pick this game up if you are into extreme sports titles.