Ridge Racer V Review
NOTE: This review of Ridge Racer V is a rewritten version of the import review written back in March. The US release of Ridge Racer V is almost identical to the Japanese version of RRV.
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 videogaming series including ones like Tekken, Ace Combat, Pac-Man and of course Ridge Racer which makes 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. The very first title for PS was Ridge Racer, the game was destined to be played on the PSX and was even a launch title, basically the game was an instant hit. Later we were treated to Ridge Racer Revolution, the same concept but different game, with sharper graphics. Then Rage Racer, which wasn't the most popular of the three, but it got the job done as a worthy game. And finally Ridge Racer R4, the best of the series, it featured 80 different models of cars, excellent visuals and the pin-ball effect wasn't as bad as the previous three. Well the wait is finally over, another Playstation and yet another Ridge Racer, see how the newest Ridge title fairs in our 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. I'll be honest here, the jaggies are quite noticeable compared to all of the other polished games out there on the PS2, but when the game actually moves and you focus on the gameplay rather than the graphics, you wont even care that the aliasing is there. The "jaggies" also affect the scenario, more than they affect the cars, so you don't have to worry about the whole game looking bad. 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 the 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 VIII. Visuals are one of the games good points, they could have been better if they were anti-aliased, Namco certainly had enough time to smoothen out Tekken Tag, so why not RRV. Let's move on to the gameplay and see if it's true to the Ridge Racer series.
Strangely enough it seems as if Namco has bounced the RR series to its original roots. RR5 plays a lot more like Ridge 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. If you ever notice a red R next to a time in Time Attack mode, and you race that course with the "R" next to the time, and you beat it, you will have the ability to race against the car the set the record in the Duel-Mode which if beaten awards you the super charged that set the record. There are a total of four of these super charged cars, all with their distinct positives and negatives.
What disappointed me is that the two-player mode has no different camera views, you have to drive with a first person view. I personally don't like 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 a while. RR5's mode include a Free Run option, which is in general a mode that lets you explore any desired track and a Time Attack option, which is pretty much explanatory. The game also has the Grand Prix mode 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, as you progress through the modes and teh more you drive, a tracker showing how many miles your team has driven will always keep you up to date, at certain points of the meter you will be granted secrets like new modes. RR5 is a very exciting racer that will surely please any RR fan, the visuals may not be the best but the gameplay sure is a great thrill.
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 "congratulations" is said "khangradulations", there are one or two more but these are the ones that are heard mostly. The techno tracks in Ridge Racer V are great, with adrenaline pumping beats that even have a little mix of rock in them. There is a total of 14 songs to listen to but none of them are from known bands, or any of that I know. I really like the soundtrack, I've always thought techno tunes were ideal for a racing game like Ridge Racer V, and RRV definitely delivers.
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. Albeit the controls don't support the right analog, they do support the Dual Shock 2's sensitive buttons for acceleration and braking. The control is basically what you would see in all of the other RR games, and the Dual Shock is quite strong as well.
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 lucky few who was able to score a PS2, then go ahead and pick up Ridge Racer V, especially if you are a Ridge Racer fan as well. Although the graphics are a bit lacking, the gameplay makes up for it with the amazingly fun gameplay and the awesome soundtrack. In the end, Ridge Racer V is a fun title that will leave you wanting more.
11/3/2000 Arnold Katayev