December 7, 2000
Ridge Racer. It is one of the biggest game series' on the Playstation, and yet I have never really been interested in the games. Sure, I played the arcade game quite a bit when it came out, and have played each of the the four Playstation versions, but I have never seen enough to warrant a purchase. This time Ridge Racer V has gained my interest due to the impressive screenshots and the huge sales for the title in Japan.
Featuring 7 different tracks (six of which use the same area in Ridge city) Ridge Racer V won't keep you playing forever, but the enjoyment gained certainly makes up for it. Ridge Racer V includes several different car manufacturers (not based on real life companies unfortunately) who have very different cars. Some are fast while others have more grip or better acceleration. To perfect the game the most important element is learning how to drift the cars around the corners. By doing this you will retain as much speed as possible to enter the next straight but it's not as easy as it sounds as mis timing by a fraction of a second will see you head into a wall. That said, Ridge Racer V is still a game which both novices or experienced gamers can enjoy. It's easy to pick up and play, but can take a while to gain the driving skills required to bring the lap times down to a new record.
One of the most annoying features with the entire Ridge Racer series is the way the game handles collisions. Even the smallest scrape with a wall will result in your car losing most, if not all of it's momentum. The cars still don't display any sort of damage either, and these aren't even real manufacturers. Perhaps Namco need to have a look at this for future games because although this is an arcade game some link to reality would be nice.
The biggest disappointment with Ridge Racer V is the graphics. Namco seem to have spent their entire time fixing the impressive Tekken Tag Tournament as Ridge Racer V has gained some very ugly back borders on the top and bottom of the screen. Fortunately the game isn't as ugly as many people would have you believe as the tracks, although not anti-aliased are fairly clean and have some great background scenery, even if it lacks some detail in places. The game does manage to sustain a solid 60fps with no slowdown, which is great to see and Namco have managed to keep the speed of the game fairly much on par with the NTSC version.
Sound wise Ridge Racer V is a definite improvement over the previous games, as you would expect. While the music and sound effects have definitely been improved the announced remains with his annoying comments at set points on the track during a race. It won't be too long before you are looking for the volume controls.
Ridge Racer V isn't the best racing game ever, nor will it ever win any awards for technical achievements or the physics engine. However, what this game does do is provide an adrenaline rush equal to that of the Ridge Racer arcade games, but with a bit more variety and in the comfort of your home. If you liked the previous versions you won't be disappointed, but if you more of a simulation fan you may want to have a look first, or hold off for the superb looking Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec in March.