Haven’t I raced this race before?
Ridge Racer was one of the Playstation’s earliest games. Now that the
PS2 is out, we’re getting Ridge Racer V, one of the first games for the
new system. And while it certainly improves upon the past, it doesn’t offer
much of a glimpse into the future.
Just looking at the DVD case, you can witness the obvious attempt to give the
Ridge Racer license a new edge. That Ridge Racer V logo is now
a glossy metallic sheen. Watch out, or you’ll cut yourself on that sharp metal
color printing! Heck, they even updated to a racier Ridge Racer girl.
Hmm, how should I put this…she doesn’t look particularly, uh, virtuous.
Underneath the new sheen there’s the same solid Ridge Racer gameplay
mechanics found in the Grand Prix racing mode. You select a car and start out
last against thirteen other racers. Move up the ladder and rank in by the end
of the third lap in order to go on to the next race.
The “Drift style” racing controls are still spot-on. As you wind into the
turns, you lift off the gas. The car starts to “drift” due to its momentum.
Almost immediately, you slam the gas and slide into that sharp turn, while you
correct your direction with the steering wheel. Pull it off, and you’ll get
through with minimal loss of speed and a chance to catch up to the guy ahead
of you. There’s also “Grip Control,” if that’s how you prefer your racing –
less loose, with a tighter grip on the road. Either way, these are some refined
As you progress deeper into the game, you earn faster engines and cars. Of
course, all the other racers are increasing in statistics relative to yours.
Ultimately, the key to Ridge Racer has always been maintaining a maximum
speed event through a sharp turn. With each upgrade, you’ll have to hone your
skills to match with the increased car performance.
In addition to the Grand Prix mode, there are other, more minor modes to wet
your racing appetite. There’s the basic Time Attack, where you can just race
against the clock, sans competitors. Duel mode only opens up after you beat
the record times in Grand Prix. Herein, you can go race computer opponents.
If you win, you get their car. And if you feel like just testing out your newly
earned car upgrade, you can take it to the Free Run mode. There’s also a competent
Vs. mode where you can play against human opponents, though the split screen
is a little weak.
Yet despite all these steps towards giving an old series a new edge, they’ve still managed to forget the most important edges of them all: Polygon edges!
Just look at the screen and you’ll see the bane of every Playstation 2 programmer and gamer. Here you are, racing down a track at a blistering 160 mph, but the fences, road, and buildings flicker due to the lack of anti-aliasing. Check out them zig-zaggity edges of doom! Watch out, or you’ll cut yourself on those razor saws!
Appropriately named “jaggies,” this problem is blaringly noticeable and full
on annoying. Ridge Racer V was a launch title in Japan, and in all that
time they haven’t made any attempts to anti-alias this little puppy. If Namco
could do it to Tekken Tag,
why not here? Did the new Ridge Racer girl scare the programmers away?
Artistically, the graphics are shooting for a photo-realistic recreation of
the previous Ridge Racing worlds. In fact, you aren’t just racing in any old
burb… you are racing in the one and only Ridge City. The city is a reference
to the original track from the first Ridge Racer, but now there are 7
racetracks built around Ridge City. The back of the case promises you 14 tracks.
Hmm… sounds nice, but really, you’ll just find those 7 tracks forwards and
It all looks decent enough, but there’s no spark of imagination or creativity here, no backdrops that truly inspire. All you’ll find are different times of day, buildings here and there, and some mountains. An airplane or helicopter every now and then, too. Big whoopdee doo.
Speaking of tracks, the music just doesn’t work very well. Some of it sounds like limp Japanese pop music. Another track reminds me of Rob Zombie, only very tranquilized and subdued. Oh, and you’ll just love that one song where a woman just grunts throughout – Ungh, Ungh, Ungh. More like argh, argh, argh!
Ridge Racer V also shows some attitude with a radio DJ/sports announcer
that offers his commentary during the game. This guy pipes in meaningless information
about Ridge City and remarks on your race performance. He isn’t very intelligent.
You pull ahead of another driver. He says, “Wicked.” Watch out, or you’ll cut
yourself on the announcer’s sharp-as-a-spoon wit! Next time, leave this schmuck
out of the game.
Ridge Racer V doesn’t try to break from the ideas set forth by its
predecessors. It’s still the same game of “catch up” that it ever was, only
now with a slight graphics boost – a boost that tries to wind its way around
a turn, but instead falls regretfully off the edge. Even despite the jaggies,
the game’s graphics aren’t all that ambitious or new. The game engine underneath
is still strong, but somehow it lacks the same charm and fun as before. A decent
start, but Ridge Racer V is simply not the cutting edge.