A Much-Improved Sequel
TT Isle Of Man 2 is a frustrating but enjoyable game. One of the first trophies you’re likely to see ping is falling off your bike 50 times. I’ll admit I’m a terrible driver and back in 2018 I was woefully inept at this title, thanks in part to the handling and wobbly controls. This time around TT Isle Of Man returns for a welcome sequel that manages to improve on almost every aspect of the first game, changing the UI, adding a deeper career mode and tweaking the handling to make things feel a lot more robust while playing. Although the steep learning curve may put some people off, it’s worth persevering with this one as the pay-off makes for a really impressive motorcycle sim.
The game itself is broken up into several different sections including Tutorials, multiplayer races, free roam and the Career Mode. The career sees you choose your starting bike and take to the streets for the first time. If this is your first time playing TT Isle Of Man, be prepared to fall off your bike and crash a lot. The steering is realistic but tough, the corners hard to master and the competitors relentless and incredibly well-adept – even on the easiest Beginner difficulties. The Career Mode starts you off with a simple calendar screen that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s played Sport games and progresses through a consistent 12 month period.
To begin with you choose a contract to start you off and begin racing for a chosen team. You can choose between Easy, Medium or Hard races with an indicator as to how much of the calendar year is taken up by each individual race. Completing these gain simple perks (more on this later) and different rewards ranging from Perk points and Reputation. Reputation naturally increases over time but winning races will see that dramatically spike. Perk points are essentially advantages you can give yourself at the start of a race, ranging from tyre warmers, a quicker respawn time and even gaining maximum points at the end of a race regardless of where you finish.
Most of the races take place on the streets of Ireland, England or (you guessed it) the Isle Of Man. The races are pretty balanced, with the Easy races confined to smaller patches of land and easier segments of straights and tight corners. The medium tracks utilize a lot more corners, chicanes and hair-raising right-angled turns that certainly test your nerve. The Hard courses are usually confined to sections of Snaefell Mountain which is essentially the creme de la creme of motorcycle racing in this game, just like before.
Completing objectives in the season mode gives you extra unlockable goodies to apply to your bike, which can also be bought from the shop. There’s a clear sense of progression in this system too and after you complete your first season, the game opens up and allows you to purchase classic bikes, take on a full season without a contract and complete more of the Medal Challenges in the game.
These Medal Challenges see you explore a free-roam area with multiple challenges dotted around. From overtaking and staying ahead of an opponent for 5 seconds through to elimination races and maintaining 149MPH on long straights of road, there’s a whole range of different challenges that are worth playing through. The rewards range from new bike liveries (motorcycle skins), a generous sum of money and even highly-leveled pieces of equipment. The biggest problem with the game however, is also one that shows up most prominently during these free-roam sections and that happens to be the loading screens.
TT Isle Of Man is a game that has some seriously long loading screens. Expect a good 20 second wait between picking a race and waiting for it to load. If you want to restart the race, the wait starts again while respawing to a different location on the free-roam map is a double-whammy – with one load screen for teleporting across and another for the challenge to begin. It’s not a deal breaker as the loading screen wisely shows the course layout and gives you time to study what you’re going up against but beyond that, it does feel a bit unnecessary.
Visually the game is really a series of two halves. On the one hand, the weather effects are excellent and whether it be ascending up a mountain with the sun glare pummeling your visor or the blurred edges as you whiz through the streets, there’s a serious sense of speed and realism during these high-speed sections. When you slow down however, some of the texture and graphical issues show up. Buildings are poorly rendered, the stock crowd models are woeful and at times it’s hard to get round this given the game forces you to slow down during those aforementioned tight-angled corners.
The steep learning curve with this one is likely to be another deciding factor too and although it’s certainly a step up from the previous game, it’s still going to take a good 2-3 hours to acclimatize to the way of driving here – and that’s with all the beginner metrics on. Unless you’re pin-point accurate with your turns be prepared to fall a lot and even then, sometimes it’s disheartening to see the AI riders spin out but never really fall off. Then again, you can actually go out of your way to knock people off their bikes so… silver linings and all that!
Overall though TT Isle Of Man 2 offers up a much improved experience over its predecessor. While it still remains a challenging and at times frustrating game to play through, there’s enough improvements to make it worth jumping back into to check out. If you’re on the fence then it’s worth a rental and just like driving itself, eventually it’ll click and the experience is unlike other motorcycle sims out there. It’s not perfect, and the long loading screens and steep learning curve will almost certainly be tall towers to climb but if you can persevere and make it to the summit, there’s a decent enough view that’s worth holding out for.
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Verdict - 6.5/10