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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
PlayStation 2
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-2
October 25, 2000
Ridge Racer 2

Ridge Racer 7

Ridge Racer 6

Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer DS

More in this Series
 Written by John Scalzo  on June 28, 2001

Full Review: It looks good, but how well does it perform?

Ridge Racer V is a racing game. Nothing more, nothing less. Quite simply, if you're a racing game fan, you'll be entertained for a while and that's it. Ridge Racer V was probably one of the driving forces behind all those rumors that the PS2 launch games were all graphics and featured lame gameplay. But what does Ridge Racer V give us as a racing game?

Well, simply put, the graphics are just amazing. Everything is just freakishly detailed. The cars shine and the buildings and trees that line the tracks look really, well, real. But it's the little touches to the graphics that will really stand out to you. First there's the reflection on the rear window. Picture this, every time you drive under a tree or a streetlight, the reflection of the tree or street light shows up on your back window. Or how 'bout all the background objects like planes and helicopters that are always flying around on screen. They're just as detailed as the cars, no small feat for a video game.

There were a few nice little graphical touches included in Ridge Racer V too. I really liked the little touch of using Pac-Man characters for the race clock. If you're trailing the leaders, Pac-Man is chasing the ghosts. And if you're winning, then it will show the ghosts chasing you. It was just a nice little nod to video game history. Plus, the game moves at a zippy 60 frames per second through this whole graphical fireworks display. Nope, no nasty slowdown here. And the Full Motion Video sequence to open the game? Wow, those are some wild computer graphics. I was picking my jaw up off the floor after that one. And even the menu screens were given a flashy (hehehe), stylish look.

After these smokin' graphics, I was really disappointed in the sound. Sure the soundtrack is kick ass with it's perfectly balanced dance beats and rock riffs. But the announcer is just annoyingly repetitive. And everything he says is basically just sucking up to you (it's like everybody gets a trophy day!) to get you to keep playing the game. Although he does stop short of saying "Please keep playing Ridge Racer V. We need you. We need you." But just listen to this little nugget: "There are many drivers competing in various races in Ridge City. Whether they're seasoned pros or rookies, their goal is the same: to win the race. And win or lose, they all deserve our support." Total cornball cheese.

But you might ask, John, the graphics are so pretty, how can this game still suck? Well, I'll tell you. For the actual races you are given the choice of 6 cars to choose from in 2 different categories: Drift (looser control) and Grip (tighter control). Now, because the main difference in the cars is the control style the control is always either too tight or too loose. You're either pulling that stick all the way over to get your car to move an inch for Grip cars. Or you tap the stick and your car slides out for Drift cars. It's an immensely steep learning curve. Although it's not too bad once you get the hang of it.

Now you have to choose your race. But wait, you aren't given any options when you first turn on the game. The only thing you can do is race the first Grand Prix (GP) race. The Time Trial or Free Run options are only available after you win a GP. But winning a GP will open up new options like new races and allow you to modify your car. Oh, but what new tracks they are! All the tracks look exactly the same. There's no variety at all. In fact a lot of the tracks overlap each other. Like if you went right on the first track, on the second track you'll go left. It's like that Simpson's episode with the Itchy and Scratchy Movie ("How many times can you watch that mouse pour acid on that cat." "But it's a new episode mom."), same thing. There's just no reason to replay the game more than once. Because once you've gone all the way through it the first time, it's like you've replayed it six times over already.

And in true nitpicking game geek fashion, this game leaves out something I thought was standard on all racing games. In all racing games there are always three camera options: inside the car, behind the car, and their aerial cam behind the car. But Ridge Racer V has decided to not use the aerial cam. There are only 2 camera angles to choose from, there is no aerial cam. Which is the camera option I prefer. I know it's nitpicking, but I'm allowed, I am reviewing it after all.

Finally, the ranking system Ridge Racer V uses is really weird. Winning a race all comes down to the last race, regardless of where you finished before. To advance in each race, you must finish 4th in the first race, 3rd in the second race, and 2nd in the third race. So naturally you have to finish 1st in the last race. Now this is regardless of how high you finish in the other races. Finishing first in every race counts the same as barely qualifying with a 4th place, a 3rd place, and a 2nd place in every race. That's just not fair. And I don't like it.

Bottom Line
Now Ridge Racer V doesn't totally blow. It's not a bad game, it's just that if they spent half as much time making the game fun, as they did making it look cool, we could really have something. Instead, we get a totally generic racing game that only gets a mild recommendation because the graphics are so amazing and everyone should see what the Playstation 2 is capable of. But only for a weekend rental though.

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