Review by matt91486
"Not as impressive release as the original Ridge Racer was, but do not let that fool you! Well, actually, don't let the endless hype fool you"
The original Ridge Racer was the showcase game of the original PlayStation’s launch. The detailed tracks, fantastic gameplay, and interesting soundtrack captivated millions. Chances are if you bought a PlayStation at launch, you bought Ridge Racer right along with it. Well, Namco decided to hope that that success carried through to the next generation of the PlayStation, to the PlayStation 2. And you will have to read this review to find out if it did.
Ridge Racer V brings the same, half-arcade racing, and half-simulation racing approach to the PlayStation 2 as its prequel did six years before, at the original PlayStation’s launch. This approach works well with the die-hard fans in both types of racing camps. The object of Ridge Racer V is to finish in first place in different races. Like the original Ridge Racer, and tons of other racing games out there, the amount of tracks was not deemed important, and there are not nearly as many as there should be to make the definitive game.
Ridge Racer V requires a little bit more strategy than just plowing through the races. Power slides are very important to make it through turns, and, to be perfectly honest, when you have mastered power slides, you have mastered Ridge Racer V. Of course they are not called power slides, but I cannot remember what they are called in Ridge Racer V, but it is certainly a power slide. The other key to mastering Ridge Racer V is to play through the track a few times before hand, if at all possible, before progressing there in the single player game. Then the sharp turns, and detours that Namco has set up will not through you as they through me a few times. And they ultimately cost me the race.
Who in their right mind would not give Ridge Racer V a ten in the graphical category. The graphics in Ridge Racer V were far better than any other launch title for the PlayStation 2. The only games that came close were SSX and Madden NFL 2001, but Ridge Racer V was still light years ahead of those titles. This game certainly provides eye candy that is equal to that of the finest, the richest Swiss Godiva chocolate.
The cars look like cars. In the original Ridge Racer, you could tell the vehicles were cars, but they lacked the detail that the cars in Ridge Racer V has. Such is the power of the PlayStation 2. They look completely realistic, something that the Dreamcast’s Daytona USA 2001: Online Edition cannot even truthfully state. The cars in that look like cars, but they look cartoonish, and not that realistic, while Ridge Racer V is perfectly realistic, all the way around.
I was not impressed with the cars, though, as much as I was with the breathtaking backgrounds and environments. Never before in a video game have I seen individual leaves on a tree. The sun glares down at the track, forming very perfect shadows that exactly match the form of the object that blocked them into creation. Occasionally, in certain views, the sun will blind you as you drive, creating those halos in your windshield. People that have accidents because of that effect of the sun probably will not be too pleased if they run into that in a video game, but everyone else will be quite impressed when they see that in Ridge Racer V.
The music in Ridge Racer V is among the worst any video game from any time period. Namco apparently went a little bit insane, and decided to go with a techno type of music for the game. This is the absolute worst move that the company has ever made. Not only is the music completely horrible and nauseating, it does not even flow with the game! Perhaps it was the evil 1980s spirits of Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Boy George, and the like that cause them to go with those songs, but hopefully they can vanquish those demons before the next Ridge Racer game is released.
The sound effects themselves are great. From the screeching of brakes as you attempt to stop on a dime, to the roar of the engine, as you shift gears, they all scream realism. I could have sworn I could have even heard the wind rustling through the branches of trees a few times. Of course, the sound portion of the audio section has one horrendous downfall. And that downfall is none other than, the infamous, track announcer. If you think Bob Costas is a horrible sports announcer, wait until you get a load of this repetitive, always-making-a-living-by-stating-the-obvious, egotistical, annoying-sounding maniac. You will want to know his home address. Luckily, I am fairly certain that, for his own personal safety, the man who voiced this evil announcer has an unlisted phone number.
The control in Ridge Racer V is not as tight and responsive as I had hoped it would be. Instead of the razor sharp turns that racing video games ought to have, we get slipping and sliding on turns. Seriously, what is the point of having a perfectly realistic control scheme for a racing video game? Why do the players of those perfectly realistic games just hop in their car and cruise around their neighborhood for a while. Power sliding took me quite a while to get the hang of, and since that is so vital, I really had to mark down Ridge Racer V in this category just for the sheer frustration of not being able to turn when I wanted to. Other than the fact that realism puts a hamper in your turning ability, Ridge Racer V controls fairly well, and it is not horrible to the extent of some racing games by any means.
Well, Ridge Racer V would be a lot more fun, if it were not for the very, very, very odd way that Namco set up the various modes in the title. For at the beginning, only the Championship Mode is unlocked and you need to progress to unlock the Versus Mode. Not only odd and strange modes, the Versus Mode needs to be unlocked. What ever possessed Namco to do this should be bottled up and never opened again, because that has to be the dumbest move by any game company in a long, long time.
Other than this insane quirk, Ridge Racer V is a rather fun game. If you put the time and energy into unlocking the Pac-Man car you will be rewarded with its general hilarity. When you finally have the Versus Mode unlocked you and a friend or family member can duke it out on one of the many tracks. What would have really helped Ridge Racer V, though, would have been the PlayStation 2 having four controller ports. Why Sony did not make the console have four controller ports is a mystery to me, but Ridge Racer V would have been a blast against three other human opponents.
CHALLENGE--MEDIUM TO HIGH
Ridge Racer V is one of the most difficult racing games to come out in a while. It is certainly the most difficult Ridge Racer game to come out recently. Ridge Racer 64 was not nearly up to the Ridge Racer challenge standards, and that kind of made me expect the entire series to get exponentially easier. But, apparently, Namco’s lesser role in the development of Ridge Racer 64 led to the lower difficulty level, and Ridge Racer V is back up to par. Well, actually, it is a couple of strokes over par. To be perfectly honest, it took me quite a long while to even beat enough races to unlock the Versus Mode. It is not like I am all that bad at racing games, either. Ridge Racer V is just a very difficult and challenging game.
REPLAY VALUE--LOW TO MEDIUM
For a racing game, getting a rating lower than medium in the replay value department is like getting a slap in the face. Namco has just been slapped. And slapped real good. I really had no urge whatsoever to play Ridge Racer V after progressing through it a small bit. The only reason I even kept on playing it is to unlock the Pac-Man car that I had heard so much about. And yes, that car was funny, but I do not feel it was worth the boring monotony to access it. I did not even want to play the game enough to write this review you are reading this very second. It just was not motivating in the least bit.
*Graphics showcase the PlayStation 2’s power better than any other launch game.
*Gameplay is a mix of arcade and simulation racing, to please all racing fans.
*Sound effects are realistic and far better than the music.
*Three words: Techno-Pop music.
*Initially, only one Single-Player Mode accessible.
*The announcer will be on your short list of people to kill.
Ridge Racer V does not live up to the hype. When you hear people heralding it as the cream of the PlayStation 2 launch crop, scoff at them and ignore them completely. Ridge Racer V is the most overrated game to come out since The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, or Donkey Kong 64. It is not worth the time, the energy, the money, or the lack of a tan you will gain playing it. It is decent, but not as good as it could have, and should have, been.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 06/16/01, Updated 07/18/01
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