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Ridge Racer V
Graphics: 8.5
Gameplay: 8.7
Sound: 9
Control: 8.7
Replay Value: 8
Rating: 8.4

   Namco's Ridge Racer series is by far one of the most recognized racers ever. In my opinion the company has produced some of the best videogame series including ones like Tekken, Ace Combat and Ridge Racer which make Namco what it is today. The only other company that comes in mind for best series is Square for their Final Fantasy, Front Mission, and Chrono Trigger/Cross. Ridge Racer has evolved a lot over the past five years. One of the first titles for PS was Ridge Racer, the game was an instant hit, later we were treated to Ridge Racer Revolution, then Rage Racer and finally R4. Another PS and yet another Ridge Racer, see how the newest Ridge title fairs in our first Playstation 2 review.

   On the visual stand point when you first look at RR5 you will leave your jaw on the floor, and the game will have this effect on you for quite awhile. When you hear other people complain about jaggy edges and how noticeable they are, they must be looking at the game through a microscope. The jaggies are there, but they are mostly in the scenario and that doesn't affect the gameplay at all. I must be completely honest, there is some very distant pop-up, it's not quite perceptible but if you pay close attention you may see a building or two show up in the far distance. Car models are super smooth, you may notice some lack of anti-aliasing when you are looking at the replays, but when you are actually driving the car, everything looks very clean and polished. All cars move smoothly, have great chroming and are very solid. Track design has always been pretty big with RR titles, since the game has fictional areas, Namco always has to get to work and create new courses. Strangely though when driving on a few of the courses you feel like you are driving on a similar course. There is great detail and all, but some courses feel alike, although they are different in general. I was surprised with opening, Namco utilized the game's engine to open with a real-time intro instead of the common CG or FMV. Though I wasn't surprised to see that the visuals of the PS2 are far superior to those of a CG in a PS1 game, say, Final Fantasy 8. Visuals is one of the games strongest points, see if the gameplay is true to the RR series.

   Strangely enough it seems as if Namco has bounced the RR series to its original roots. RR5 plays a lot more like Ridg Racer 1, except with much more tighter handling. While we are on the control phase, I have to say I think that is was smart of Namco to tune up the car control so that it feels stiffer, because now I can powerslide throughout the courses, and have a better feel of the car. Remember the series will most likely never have a real car manufacturer, so if you are looking for realism look somewhere else. To start off with, you have six cars to choose and eight courses to race on, as you progress in the tournaments and such, you will gain upgrades to cars and eventually open a few hidden features. RR5 is an extremely fun game, it may not have as much variety as R4 had but I think I prefer the simplicity over complication. Part of the joy in RR5 is that the game has great sense of speed, going 278 km/h really feels like it.

   What disappointed me is that the two-player mode has no camera views, you have to drive through a first person view. I hate first person views in racers because I can't feel the control of the car. In addition, the multi-player mode has a very short distance view and some slowdown once in awhile. RR5 has a Free Run option and a Time Attack option, and the game also has a GP option where the real beef of the game comes in. You are expected to compete in 4 rounds of racing, winning all those races will earn you the car that you chose to race as. If you chose the car that you already own you will receive an upgraded version of that car. RR5 is a very exciting racer that will surely please any RR fan, it would be a long shot for me to say this but if you have a PS2 go out and buy if you haven't already done so.

   Crystal, crystal clear. The sound is best so far in the series, the radio announcer, who by the way speaks English is incredibly clear. This is why a disk medium is millions of times better than a cartridge. The clarity in speech is perfect but at times the announcer may miss-pronounce a few words. Words such as "rookie", sound like "Rukee", or "congradulations" is said "Khangradulations", there are one or two more but these are the ones that are heard mostly. The tracks in RR5 are great with adrenaline pumping techno/rock beats. There are eleven tracks to listen to but none of them are from known bands.

   RR5 supports the NegCon and JogCon as well as supporting the regular PS Dual Shocks and digital pads. Like I said before the handling is stiffer but that provides more powersliding and I get a kick out of doing that. I wish that the game utilized the right analog stick for acceleration but it doesn't. The control is basically what you would see in all of the other RR games.

   In the end despite of what you may have heard, RR5 is a clean polished racer, with great gameplay, excellent sound and faithful control. If you are one of the few who imported a PS2 and picked up R5 as well I have nothing so say to you but you are one smart guy or girl. If you have a PS2 but with another game then go out and buy RR5, it is a fun title that will leave you wanting more.

4/12/2000   Arnold Katayev