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reviews >> playstation 2
Ridge Racer V

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Namco
Year Released: 2000
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Visuals 8.5
For a launch title, the visuals still stand up pretty well, and even though there's heavily aliasing, it kind of works it this game's favor. The decals on the vehicles are pixelated, which is probably the worst thing I can think of graphically.
Audio 8.5
I preffer the original music Namco did rather than license material. Good engine effects.
Gameplay 8.5
It's still very much a Ridge Racer game, with a split of "grip" and "drift" handling models (I preffer grip over drift). It's too bad they decided to lean towards the simpler game design of the original Ridge Racer rather than pursue to expand what was established in Ridge Racer Type 4.
Replay Value 8.25
There's only 8 or so courses, but the developers try and stretch out as much as they could for the championship mode. I personally played this game quite a bit, to unlock other car types or just going to time trials. You would have to be a pretty big fan of this series to get the most out of it (like me).
Reviewer's Impression 8.25
Ridge Racer V is a good arcade racer, but it really doesn't improve or build upon what was done in R4, which in my opinion, was the best game in the series.
Overall 8.5
If you want to see how the courses of the classic Ridge Racer look updated on the PS2, or just have a decent arcade racer around, this game is worth having.

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 forced.

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.