Liam’s Game Room #40 (Ridge Racer V, Playstation 2)

Introduction

Ridge Racer V is a racing game developed and published by Namco for the Playstation 2 in 2000. This game is the direct sequel to Ridge Racer Type 4, which I have reviewed previously and I will be drawing comparisons from this previous review. In 2001, there was an arcade version made of this game for the Namco 246 Arcade system called Ridge Racer V: Arcade Battle. This is one of the few occasions where I have seen a game be ported from a home console to the arcade because normally it is the other way around throughout gaming history. The earliest example of arcade to console ports were the Atari ports from the arcade to the Atari 2600 for such games as Tempest and Space Invaders.

Gameplay

Ridge Racer V is a racing game where the goal of each grand prix is to win overall to unlock further cars and more grand prix events. The game has 3 difficulty modes, Easy, Normal and Hard and what this changes is how quick the laps of the other races are, rather than how the cars handle in Ridge Racer Type 4. I feel that the difficulties in this game make more sense because it doesn’t mean that the player picking a harder difficulty will have a more difficult car to drive as the cars behave the same across all difficulties.

Instead of having different teams representing difficulty, the game allows the players to create their own team and design the look of the car that they will be racing. I found this to be quite a nice change because rather than being part of another team, the player are the owner of the team. However, the only issue with the difficulty is that once the player sets the difficulty when they create the team, the difficulty can not be changed unless a new team is created. This is quite strange because in Ridge Racer 4, once the season was completed, the player would have the choice to repeat the series with a different team, therefore giving the player the option to try a higher difficulty. Ridge Racer V doesn’t do this, which is quite annoying because it means that the player will have to create more teams to experience all the difficulties.

Ridge Racer V 1.jpg

The controls of this game are somewhat different compared to Ridge Racer 4 and will take some time to adapt to. The controls are a lot more responsive and are somewhat more sensitive compared to the previous installment. The reason why I said it feels different is because when I first played it, I was not expecting the controls to be so sensitive as I was used to the slower responsiveness of Ridge Racer 4. So, when the car would continue to turn into walls because I was not sure of the controls, I initially thought the game was bad. After about 30 minutes of playing, I was used to the controls and I prefer them because there is a sense that I was in a lot more control. However, the issue I have with the controls is that in drift cars, the car can sometimes double drift, meaning that I would lose control of the car and spear into the wall.

Grip cars are much easier to control in Ridge Racer V as well because the player does not have to hit the brakes before turning and getting the grip to manoeuvre around the corner. Instead, as soon as the player lifts off the accelerator and starts to turn, the car grips immediately. I actually preferred the grip cars in this game compared to the drift cars, which is a complete reversal of my Ridge Racer 4 preferences where I preferred drift. The sole reason why I prefer grip over drift is simply because the grip car is much more predictable and there is no issue with potentially double drifting. Also, the grip cars allow the player to get back on the accelerator earlier coming out of corners and can also take much tighter lines in the corners.

Ridge Racer V 2.jpg

The tracks in the game have decent variety, although quite a few tracks use some sections of previous circuits, which considering the world of Ridge Racer V is one island is understandable. However, I feel that there could have been more variety because there are points where things feel too familiar and sometimes the tracks are repeated in later GPs. On the flip side of the coin, the same tracks in later GPs are more difficult because the cars the player will be using are faster and tougher to handle. I would say maybe 2 or 3 more unique circuits would have made the variety just about perfect.

The graphics of the game are actually pretty good and have aged well compared to Ridge Racer 4. The game has a good amount of depth perception, meaning that there will nothing in the background that will immediately pop out of nowhere. The game runs extremely well with very little slowdown even when the car is travelling close to 250mph. The cars have quite a lot of detail with light reflection coming off the mirrors in such a way that it adds a bit more to the detailing. The scenery throughout the tracks are very detailed and always look interesting with no sections of any tracks either becoming or not looking bland at all. The user interface when the player is racing is quite simplistic and does not shift the focus away from the racing. The amount of information it shows is just enough for the player to know exactly what they need to know without it going overboard.

Music

The music in Ridge Racer V is really good, however there is one major glaring issue with the soundtrack as a whole and this problem is lack of music variety. Ridge Racer 4 had quite a wide variety of catchy music across many different genres of music and used some orchestral instruments. However, Ridge Racer V goes for a pure electronic soundtrack and I feel that the quality is lower than Ridge Racer 4. This does not mean that I disliked the soundtrack because the trance and dance tracks in this game are really good. I just think that living up to the such high standard of the previous installment in the series was always going to be a difficult task and the composers did a great job, but I feel it just falls short compared to Ridge Racer 4.

Conclusion

Ridge Racer V controls a lot better than Ridge Racer 4 and has much better graphics. However, it is the smaller details like the lack of variety in the tracks and the music means that it is let down somewhat. Ridge Racer V holds up very well considering the fact it was a very early Playstation 2 game and the game still looks great. I feel that having the player set up their own team is a really nice feature, but having the choice to change the difficulty once the team has been made is a small annoyance. I definitely recommend the game if you are looking for a game that can be beaten in about an hour, but has the replayability because the amount of difficulties and cars on offer.

9/10

Copyright ©2017 Liam Piper. All Images Used Under Fair Use

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