Review by Writer

"RRV is a solid racer"

When Sony launched the original PlayStation back in 1995, there was a little racing game that helped launched the system. The game was Ridge Racer. Ridge Racer only had a handful of tracks, but no one had ever seen anything like it's arcade-style gameplay on a home console. This game capitalized on simplicity but was still the main reason many people bought a PlayStation to begin with (the original Ridge Racer is in fact one of this reviewer's all-time favorite video games). Well, the years have passed and Ridge Racer has been getting better since it's first installment. Sony has released the PlayStation 2 and Namco was ready to give gamer's another helping of arcade-style racing with Ridge Racer V.

As mentioned before Ridge Racer V is an arcade-style racer, so those craving sim racing action should just steer clear of this title. RRV tells sim style racing to stuff it by incorporating easy to use controls and drift-style driving that is essential to taking sharp turns and maintaining a good portion of speed. The controls in RRV are amazingly smooth allowing for good manipulation of the cars. The controls are touch sensitive, which means you go a little faster by pressing hard on the gas or break harder by pressing down firmly on the breaks. You can steer with the digital pad on the analong if you like, which is a nice plus. Drifting has never been easier in any RR game than it is in RRV. In past RR games if you put too much power on your drift you would oversteer and hit a wall. Should this happen while drifting in RRV, you can save yourself by hitting the breaks. This makes drifting very fun and is one of the reasons why RRV has the best of the controls in any RR game or of any arcade-style racer for that matter. The other reason the controls in RRV work so well is that they just feel right. Just moving your car left and right has never been so smooth. Its almost as if you're one with the car. Of course just because the game has excellent controls doesn't mean every car handles like a dream. Some cars require extreme tolerance to drive as some feature rough handling and horrendous drifting. It's also worth mentioning that the game is compatible with Namco's old PS One Negcon and Jogcon controllers.

RRV has plethora of racing modes, the main one being the Grand Prix. In this mode you'll compete against 13 CPU racers to win trophies and accumulate cars for your garage. You start out with six cars to choose from, but you really don't own a car until you've successfully won a GP series with that particular car. The GP mode is divided into two sets of GP races. The first being the standard class, which consists of four races and six cars for you to win. The second is the extra class that has total of four GP series. So, if you want the first 12 cars the game has to offer, you'll have to win the Basis and Heroic GP races with every car. The Heroic GP cars consist of upgraded cars from the Basis GP that sport new looks and better stats.

Some RRV's other modes are Time Attack and Free Run, which lets you get a feel for your car and the road by taking any numbers of laps on the track that you wish, but this mode should have been available from the start to help out the novice players (you'll have to win the first GP series to unlock it as well as Time Attack). Duel mode (which must also be unlocked) consists of hidden cars that come out to challenge you once you've beaten their record on a particular race in both standard and extra Time Attack modes. If you beat your challenger, you can add their car to your collection. Unfortunately, these cars can't be used in the GP races, but they can be used in any other mode and they are a nice addition anyway.

RRV sports seven tracks all of which can be raced backwards. Its easy to see that the citizens of Ridge City are huge racing fans as they have blocked off the roads for your racing pleasure. Some of the tracks consist of portions of a track you may have already raced on. EX: Above The City is an expansion of Park Town. The tracks are greatly designed and offer a nice variety even if some of them are only extended versions of existing tracks.

Aside from the fog in the Vs. mode and some jaggies, RRV is a beautiful-looking game. The cars looks great, the tracks are awesome and the cityscapes look fantastic. Helicopters film you as you race, parked cars can be spotted on the other side of the road, moving traffic can been seen-it gives you the feeling that Ridge City really is a living city. The replays look fantastic and will have you in awe as you marvel at the game's beautiful graphics.

It just wouldn't be a RR game without an annoying announcer and RRV has just that. While the voice quality of the new announcer isn't terrible, he is repetitive, mispronounces certain words and can get annoying. But hey, if you've played Wave Race 64 then you've certainly heard worse. Thankfully you can turn him down, almost to the point of being nonexistent. RRV sports some cool techno tunes that can get stuck in you're head. As usual, you can go into the option mode and hear the music to get an idea of what you'll be racing to and as always, the game lets you choose which musical track you'd like to listen to before you race.
Some of the musical tracks will have you wondering why Namco even had them included. Thankfully, you can change the music at any time during a race. A nice plus.

The CPU AI can be brutal at times, bumping you to the side to pass or pulling over to break check you and force you into a collision. All it takes is a few hits to on the curb and you can see the CPU behind you just itching to capitalize on your mistakes.

Sure, I've mentioned a lot of gripes, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Ridge Racer V is a very solid game. With great controls, great gameplay, and sweet graphics, this game has a lot going for it, and there are a good amount of hidden modes and cars to unlock to keep you busy. The game even keeps track of how many miles you've raced. If you've driven long enough, you'll unlock Namco's yellow and round mascot Pac-Man and add him to your collection of cars. Needless to say its very fun to race the little guy around the track in Time Attack and watch him on the replays. This has gotta be one of the coolest extras ever in a video game. RR fans should buy RRV without question.

VISUALS: 8
AUDIO: 8
FUN: 8

FINAL SCORE: 8


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/15/01, Updated 06/15/01


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