Review by YSF

"Ridge Racer V- A truly uninspiring and disappointing game!!!"

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Introduction
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The original Ridge Racer was a first generation PlayStation game when the PlayStation was first launched. It set a standard for racing game at that era but that was history as its once shiny glory had ended. With racing game series like Gran Turismo, it makes Ridge Racer a less appealing game to any hardcore racing fan. Ridge Racer IV - the last game for the original PlayStation is as good as it could be on a 32-bit hardware. With Sony's new blue box, the latest installment of the series, Ridge Racer V returns with the general format that all Ridge Racer fans are familiar with.

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Graphics
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Way back during PlayStation 2's launch, it seems that Ridge Racer was one of the most impressive games graphically. But with newer and more visually stunning games released like SSX, it seems like Ridge Racer offers nothing much other than being a slightly more polished and refined racing game over the previous Ridge Racer game- similar to its predecessor but with lesser or almost no polygonal pops up, smoother textures and some cool new visuals. It is clear that Ridge Racer V didn't even use up at least a quarter of the PlayStation 2's power.

Amazingly detailed visuals like the glowing of heated brake pads to the smoldering of tires in a power slide do captivate some of our attention as it adds enhancement to the looks of the game. The gauges inside the car do light up during night driving or when headlights enter a tunnel. Sufficient details are paid to the cars but not good enough to say that it is marvellous. On the other hand, the environments are quite breathtakingly made. The leaves on the trees are quite realistic and the shadow cast by the sun on the object look perfectly shaped and appropriate. The replay scenes are perhaps the most stunning visuals of all in the game as it promises the most breathtaking scenes. In general, the graphics are decent, much better than most of the 32-bit or 64-bit racing games you have seen but not great enough.

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Gameplay and Control
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Ridge Racer V features four main modes of play, 18 customisable and upgradable cars, 14 challenging race course and 14 musical tracks. The Grand prix mode is probably the game's greatest drawing power as it will let you win trophies, find additional new cars and new engines. You first start out by choosing your difficulty level and then enter the standard grand prix. Next, there is the extra mode which consists of four grand prix events. The standard mode lets you pick any one of the game's base-level cars. As you progress with that car into the extra ranks, you will earn upgraded versions of that base car.

The track design is the usual standard Ridge Racer fare. Certain portions of the track are thus identical and hence makes the tracks too similar. This limits the game's replay value. Another point worth mentioning about Ridge Racer V is that this game features two camera views- the first person and third person view. The third person view seems to be tighter and more nearer to your vehicle than in the previous games. Certainly, this is something that has to be gotten used to. In general, I still find the camera view awkward overall and this makes my gameplay experience more unpleasant. Overall, the awkward camera angles make the control unresponsive to be handled.

On the other hand, the two player split mode do function well as evident from the fact that both the one player and two player modes do run at approximately the same speed. However, the game has quite a terrible long loading in between races, considering that the game is run on a superconsoles like PlayStation 2, which you would expect fast and little loading. Fans will also be pleased to hear that Ridge Racer V not only support Dual Shock 2 but also both of Namco's driving controllers, Negcon and Jogcon. The vibration functions also add on to the driving sensation.

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Music and Sound Effects
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Ridge Racer V offers a bit more of variation than the previous Ridge Racer games as RRV now offers some poppier tunes from the Boom Boom Satellites, as well as some pretty hot techno numbers rather than sticking solely to various forms of electronic music. One of the best tracks is the music that plays in the menus before the race actually starts. However, I find most of the musical score quite unappropriate for the tracks as there are quite a number of these which are horrendous to be heard.

The sound effects of Ridge Racer do live up to the usual standard. The engine noise, the wind rustling through the branches of trees and squealing tires do sound quite realistic. While so, the sound effects are not flawless. The announcer is a perfect example who has a high tendency to say repetitive sentences and this makes the listener bored. Worse still, the announcer tends to mispronounce a certain words like ''Rookie''. Though the mispronounced words do sound humourous to a certain extent, it does question the professionalism. I do wish that Namco will tackle into this problem and hopefully that the announcer for the next Ridge Racer game [if there is] will have clear pronunications. Also, Namco, please ensure that the announcer will not be so long-winded again to say the same thing so many times. Give the announcer a more variation of speech, please!!!

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Conclusion
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You would expect that ''Ridge Racer V does to the PlayStation 2 what the original Ridge Racer does to the PlayStation.'' But nope. Namco didn't deliver the racing series with more energy, bigger thrills and superb gameplay as it claims. As a launch game for a killer superconsoles like PlayStation 2, I have high expectations of it. But it didn't meet the expectations. Ridge Racer V never attain the quantum leap over its predecessor.

The game seems to be rushed and fans of the series will definitely be disappointed. It is nowhere as fun as its previous games used to be. Also, it's a shame that Ridge Racer V was not given equal treatment as Tekken Tag Tournament received. The outdated series has reached number 'FIVE' and it seems like its days are numbered. Maybe up to 'FIVE' is enough. [No offense to any Ridge Racer fans] Frankly speaking, I will advise you to rent it rather than buying it. It's not worth the purchase. Consider other better racing game series like Gran Turismo.

Graphics : 7.0/10.0
Concept : 2.0/10.0
Control : 5.5/10.0
Music : 2.0/10.0
Sound : 7.5/10.0
Gameplay : 6.0/10.0
Replay : 7.0/10.0
Challenge : 4.0/10.0
Presentation : 4.0/10.0
Overall : 5.0/10.0


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 12/08/01, Updated 12/16/02


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