Star Rating:

Riders Republic

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series XS, PS4, PS5

Release Date: Thursday 28th October 2021

Genre(s): Sports

Ever since the 'SSX' franchise was put on hiatus following a 2012 reboot, the world has been crying out for a truly great arcade-style extreme sports game.

Ubisoft's 'Rider's Republic' delivers in spades.

Developed primarily by Ubisoft Annecy, the team took the lessons learned from 2016's 'Steep' and have delivered a confident, robust and above all, fun, extreme sports game.

7 Ubisoft studios worked on the game, and it feels like a project that hundreds of people worked on, which in this case is a positive.

The developers had fun making this game, and have gone out of the way to make sure the player is, too.

Throwing hundreds of people at a game can have a negative effect like 'Resident Evil 6' reportedly having over 600 people working on it, but in the case of 'Riders Republic,' it's apparent that every person working on the staff was given the brief to make the game as fun as it can be.

In its best moments, 'Riders Republic' is as thrilling and winning as the 'SSX' games.

The kitchen sink, and then some, has been thrown at this game, going out of it's way to make sure something is always happening on screen, and making sure that boredom is impossible.

After an hour or so where the player is introduced to all the different sports on offer, the player is given free rein of the map to do as they see fit, while also offering a basic if unremarkable single-player campaign to help the player progress further and unlock better items.

'Rider's Republic' takes place in a commune where extreme sports is life, there is an abundance of running water and electricity, and a helicopter is on standby at a seconds notice to drop you anywhere around the map.

If there is a criticism to be levelled at 'Riders Republic', the dialogue and 'The Office' style reaction shots are painful and excruciating to listen to, with the game very clearly written by a room of people who learned about American culture from watching sitcoms.

Granted, not every game is going to have 'Disco Elysium' or 'Mass Effect' levels of writing, but 'Riders Republic' tries so hard to make the dialogue #relatable and #quirky it comes off as grating, and for the love of God, 'The Office' has consumed so much of our culture, we can't let it consume video games too!

With that said you don't come to an extreme sports game for the writing, you come for the gameplay, and 'Riders Republic' lives up to that end of the deal extremely well.

The map takes in everywhere from snow-capped mountains, rocky ravines, lush forest and desert, and thanks to a helicopter and near-instant loading times, players can be dropped anywhere on the map at the click of a button.

The game's difficulty can be tailored to however the player chooses, such as assisted landings, the game doing the tricks for you, but you can switch the assistance off if you want a more realistic feel to the game, while still catering to those who simply want to 'pick up and play.

Our review copy was for the Playstation 4 console, and even on ageing hardware like the PS4, the graphics were solid, keeping a consistent framerate even when the scenery whizzes by at top speed, and the loading times are basically non-existent.

The gameplay and feel of the game is similar to another Ubisoft franchise, 'The Crew', and the formula of giving the player a map the size of County Louth and letting them at it remains as solid as ever.

It is perhaps not surprising the game feels like a game from 'The Crew' series - Ubisoft Belgrade, one of the other Ubisoft subsidiaries who worked on the game, also played a part in developing 2018's 'The Crew 2'.

If you've ever played a game in that series, you know what to expect here, but switch out cars for skis, wingsuits and bicycles.

The game is perfectly playable offline, but it truly shines when you take it online

'Riders Republic' does work as a single-player game, with eerie ghost outlines of other people populating the map if you're playing offline, but the game turns into a 'Skate 3' style playground of sheer joy when you join an online session.

It is entirely possible to have 20 players crowded on a single race track or skiing down the same ski slope, and in those moments when players ragdoll to the ground and chaos ensues, it is one of the funniest experiences you can have in a game.

The player count is upped to over 50 on the PS5, Xbox XS Series and PC releases, but 20 players is more than enough to have chaos ensue if you're still on the last generation of consoles.

Having 20 players take part in the same wingsuit race is like the first episode of 'Squid Game' where people start dropping like flies around each other and people will do anything to be the last person standing.

The unscripted 'make your own fun' philosophy is what Ubisoft sandbox games do best, and 'Riders Republic' is no exception.

'Riders Republic' marries together all the great sports games of the past like 'SSX' and 'Skate 3' to create a joyous experience that is as liberating and carefree as an outdoor holiday.