Folks, Namco straight up lied to your face when they call Ridge Racer V a
"new Ridge Racer". If it were to be new, the courses would have been created
from something that didn't exist before. Granted, the cars are new and the graphics
are updated, but the courses are from 1993, with a few tweaks to make them seem
"fresh". Now this doesn't mean that RRV is an abysmal game, it's actually pretty
good for what it is, but for those looking for a broader expansion of Ridge Racer
Type 4, prepared to be disappointed.
Plain and simple, the Ridge Racer series is about pure arcade racing. High speed
and powerslides aplenty were the order of the day. It wasn't until Rage Racer that
the game became somewhat of a racing sim, with the option to buy cars and tune them
up. The core mechanics stayed the same, speed and powerslides, but a new element was
created and the game seemed rather fresh than RR or RR Revolution. Then when R4
came out in 1999, it was not only the best Ridge Racer game, but the best PSX game
available alongside the Gran Turismo series. R4 blended sim racing by somewhat interacting
with your manager and earning cars based upon your performance. And R4 is runner
up for most cars in a game, boasting over 300 of them (many with slight mods to
them). The winner goes to GT2 for having at least 600 cars. But with the sheer
number of cars to be had, earning them took great skill and planning. And let's
not forget the soundtrack, which is one of the best original game soundtracks
of all time.
The Ridge Racer V comes out, coincidentally at the PS2's launch, much like the original
RR launching with the PS1. Does it surpass R4 like it should? No, in fact it almost
seems like Namco took the same approach Nintendo did when developing Ridge Racer 64
(yes, Nintendo did develop RR64. Look it up!), bring in the same courses and
update the graphics. While RRV didn't take the RR Revolution courses, it pretty
much just alters the oriignal games' course enough to make most courses seem
different from each other. I have no problem having a racing game taking place
in different parts of one city, but couldn't we get new courses? At least the
gameplay design is a little more in-depth, with multiple GP modes, which the first
RR didn't even bother to include. And the game does get challening, if not at
times become tedious as well.
The graphics, for the time it was made, are actually pretty good. Yes, there's
quite a bit of aliasing, supposedly a PS2 staple, but as funny as it seems, it
makes the game look pretty sharp. The graphical flaw seems to work to this game's
advantage. The texture work is decent, not terrible, but not exceptional. I've seen
better in GT3 or Burnout. The car models are excellent, but the texturing, up close
anyway, is pretty crappy. The decals are pixelated as if they were in a PS1 game.
They look fine from a distance, but say if you earn a new car, the pixelated
texture is more than apparent. And RRV is not the only game on a next gen system
to have a texture problem on cars. Test Drive Le Mans for the DC has the same
problem, but the rest of the game looks fantastic! What's going on?
The sound, while good, is far from what R4 had. Hands down, R4 has a superior
soundtrack. Here, half is pretty good techno. There are some irritating beats in
the bunch, but you can switch the music mid-game. The cars sounds, well, they
sound like cars, and that's fine by me. The announcer is just plain stupid. I
suppose he is Japanesee, but can speak english. But not too well. Some pronuciations
are just odd, like how he says comfort or rookie, and most of the dialouge seems
RRV is Ridge Racer at heart, which does appeal to many fans of the series, including
myself. We can eventually overlook the odd decision of using old courses and not
continuing series as it should have been (which probably could have been like GT).
Everthing from graphics to gameplay can be excused, since this was a launch
game, but really there isn't too much to complain about other than the lack of
inspiring courses. In 2003, RRV should be less than $10, I picked mine up from
a Gamestop used for $7.99. Compared to some of the crappier offerings for $10,
RRV sure does make for an excellent budget title.