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Ridge Racer V

One of the launch titles for the PlayStation 2, Sony’s follow-up to the popular PlayStation. Like the first Ridge Racer, this was one of the first games developed and released for the PlayStation 2 and was built from the ground up for that console. Ridge Racer V brought us 60fps which was a staple of the arcade versions but was something that the home console versions had always lacked. Although Namco did treat us to a 60fps build of the original Ridge Racer that was bundled as a bound for Ridge Racer Type 4, a lot of sacrifices had to be made in order to reach that frame rate. RRV gives us an insight as to what the PS2 is capable of, and what to expect from a new generation of racing games.

Although it seems Namco has forgotten to count, with Ridge Racer V being the fifth console installment, it’s not counting the three arcade titles, plus you have Ridge Racer 6 which was released in the same year. The numbering scheme is about as inconsistent s as Microsoft’s

Ouch, you could cut yourself on those jaggies (look at the neck)

Oh and no Reiko, instead she was replaced by Ai Fukami (Fuck-a-me) who appears in the intro. Unlike the R4 intro, the cars don’t stop for Ai as they did for Reiko.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhQhZyNKqhM

Straight away you will notice how sleek the menu and navigation system are compared to previous titles, borrowing design concepts from Tokyo Racer Drift which was released on the Dreamcast. Each menu selection plays its own quick animation which gives a nice touch to the game, and reminds me of the menu icons from the original WipEout that was created by the Designers Republic.

Whilst the game gives the appearance of reflections, they are not real-time but the game casts generic reflections of trees onto the car to simulate it. This is affected by your car’s position on the track, steer to the left and on the edge of the track and you can see the reflection of trees on your car, even if that part of the track has no trees at all. I guess real-time reflections were beyond the scope of the PS2 at the time of release, or Namco didn’t have enough time to implement this.
Speaking of graphics, you will know how aliased the cars are in addition to the track objects. The PS2 had an unconventional form of AA which took developers some time to get used to and as a result, some games have bad aliasing due to how their field scanning is implemented, as the games run exclusively in interlaced mode. I’m not sure if later releases (Greatest Hits, Platinum in Europe) fix this, or if it’s fixed in the Arcade Battle version.

Race Modes

GP Selection Screen

Grand Prix

Like in R4, RRV features its own unique Grand Prix. This is a departure from one we saw in R4 with the four teams being missing along with their managers can choose your own team name and colour but that’s it. As for the cars, we have a choice of different car manufacturers and models, including Danver & Himmel. These are fictional brands that are used throughout the Ridge Racer, and possibly in Namco’s other games.
Each car has its own unique stats, including top speed, acceleration, handling and control style (Grip or Drift).

Standard Basis GP: Consists of four rounds of different courses, at first you must place 4th or higher to progress to the next found, then 3rd, then 2nd and then 1st for the last race. Winning this GP will unlock a new car based on the machine you have chosen to race with which can then be used in the Extra GP’s. You will also win a trophy, which can be viewed later in the game.
Alternatively known as Frontal GP in Normal difficulty and Fountain GP in Hard mode.

Extra Heroic GP: Tracks have been shuffled around, finish standings are the same as the basis GP, only you now race on the extra car you unlocked.
Known as Bravely GP in normal, and Spartan GP on hard difficulty.

Extra Blast GP: This series uses a sudden death type of gameplay, where if the clock timer runs out, then you are ejected from the race. As you race you will pass through checkpoints which extend the time. If you are familiar with the arcade versions of Ridge racer this will seem familiar to you. For these races, you will still need to satisfy the qualifying rank to progress. Known as Gale Gp in normal, and Tornado GP on hard.

Extra Knight GP: These tracks are now completed in reverse mode.
Also known as Balon GP on normal, and Duke GP on hard.

Extra Throne GP: You race on the airport oval track, with your car being equipped with an oval engine. This is a single long near-circle-shaped track similar to the Rage Racer tracks. Top speed is the priority here.
Known as Monarch GP on normal and Tyrant GP on hard difficulty.

Maxim class: This is unlocked by beating the Tyrant GP on hard difficulty, which opens up the Ultimate GP.

Music track selection screen

Duel

Unlocked later in the game, it’s a 1 vs 1 mode against another opponent. When you beat them, you unlock their car which can then be used in the extra GP.

Time Attack

The goal here is to beat the rival times and come in first, which will unlock that rival for challenge dal. This will also increase your car standing number.

Car selection screen

Other Modes

  • Design: Similar in concept to the decal feature in R4, you can customize the colour and patterns on your team’s car. Here you can only change the colour combinations.
  • Garage: View cars that you have unlocked by winning the GP races with that car, along with any unlocked engines.
  • Records: Best lap times and the player names for time attack mode

Courses

In GP Mode, a quick tour of the race track is played

RRV included a brand new set of courses, most of which are based on the original course from the original Ridge Racer game, But these new courses are interlinked somewhat, with many taking place within Ridge City but branching out into different paths that take you into a different direction, with some leading you into the main downtown whilst others take you onto the highway. The tracks are fixed, it’s not an open world like Burnout paradise, instead different paths are blocked off depending on which track you select, very similar to how it functioned in Rage Racer and Ridge Racer Type 4.
Speaking of which, none of the tracks featured in those games appear in Ridge Racer V, only the track from the first arcade game, or which many of the RRV tracks are based around.

Despite this, you get a good feel of the Ridge Racer city,
Some tracks can be raced at different times of day, such as Day, evening & night. Unlike the first Ridge racer game where the sun will set or rise during the race which results in a day/night cycle, The sky will remain constant through the race, giving the game a realistic passage of time. This is the case even with the 99 trial.

  • Park Town: Probably the first track in RRV you will race if you follow the Grand Prix, this starts off the same as Above The City but then branches out to a different track which gives an alternative view of Ridge City, of which the scenery consists of high-rise building. A tram/monorail system can be seen in some parts of the track.
  • Outer Pass: This track looks a lot like the original track from Ridge Racer judging from the course map, but it’s set using the background roads that we can finally race in. It starts off on the bottom road where you can see the onpass ramp for Park Town and Sunny Beech before it leads to its own side of the tunnel. Towards the end it branches back to the original track before diverting back to its own path. A few sharp turns make this track more challenging and there’s an extra turn where the seaside part is.
  • Above the City: Starts off the same as park town but branches to its own path, again filled with buildings and highways, although there are a few parts of open grass and trees, it’s clear there’s less scenery diversity than in R4.
  • Bayside Line: One of the longest tracks in the game, complete with sharp turns. This one takes you out near the highway and then branches back to the start of Outer Pass.
  • Greenfield: The advanced track from the original Ridge Racer, now updated with modern visuals.
  • Sunny Beach: It’s the original track that we all know and love, only now its been modernized 7 years later, and has been remastered of sorts. Compared to the original there’s been a few changes with different skyscrapers and building placement, and minor changes to the shops opposite the beach area where the first checkpoint resides. Sadly the Pac-Man easter egg no longer appears in the building at night.
  • Airport Oval: Unlike other tracks, this one takes place independent of the other tracks, it’s a large oval-shaped track designed for top speeds, although there is a sharp turn that will require a drift, depending on your car. Since the other tracks feature low-flying airplanes, it can be assumed this is the Ridge City airport.

Additional Notes

This is one of the games that insist on funning in 480i mode (or 440i mode, PS2 games use this weird resolution) and trying to force it to 480p using GSMode results in only half the screen being rendered, as such there is no official way to run this game in progressive mode.
It’s a shame because this game has some bad aliasing, and could benefit better from progressive scan. Even the lap timer suffers from noticeable interlacing effects.

The game does not fare better with emulation either, with various texture and shading issues in PCSX2, and even had issues running in Sony’s official PS2 emulators on the PS3 and PS4. Supposedly this is due to how Namco implemented the texturing and shading for these games:
https://github.com/PCSX2/pcsx2/issues/2427#issuecomment-590020696
https://github.com/PCSX2/pcsx2/issues/3278
The intro sequence is also messed up and requires switching between hardware and software rendering modes in order to display.

Saving to a memory card larger than 8MB may take a while to read and write. With a 128Mb card it took a minute to save the game. I’m not sure if replacing the MCM IOP driver could help with this, or just break/corrupt the file entirely.

Conclusion

Whilst in some regard it’s a step back from Ridge Race Type 4 with the reduction of cars, tracks and the story mode, you have to take in mind the game was possibly developed in a short timeframe that R4 had, and Namco’s desire to have is a launch title for the PS2, the 1999 copyright date is very telling of this and one of the few games on the PS2 to have this copyright date. As a launch title it makes a huge splash with its high resolution, 60fps gameplay, and the intro sequence with Ai, possibly the highest poly model on the PS2.
But this would be the only installment of Ridge Racer for the PlayStation 2 whilst the original PlayStation enjoy four mainline Ridge Racer titles, the PS2 would only have RRV and R: Racing Evolution which is more of a spinoff rather than a follow-up game. It wouldn’t be until 2004 that a proper followup to Ridge Racer would be released for the PlayStation Portable. And even then, it’s considered a compilation game rather than a true sequel. Ridge Racer 6 for the Xbox 360 would be the proper sequel with unique tracks. As for why only one title? Possibly due to higher budgets required for PS2 development and the popularity of sim racing games like Gran Turismo. Hopefully we get another proper Ridge Racer titles from Namco at some point in the future.

Ridge Racer Type 4

Widely considered to be the best in the Ridge Racer series, its soundtrack and the opening FMV are defiantly most memorable. This would be the last Ridge Racer game released for the original PlayStation.

The game improves on the mechanics from Rage Racer and Ridge Racer Revolution, complete with eight brand new tracks and a soundtrack that’s a complete departure from the drum & bass themes from the previous instalment. Graphics-wise the game sees a shift that pushes the PlayStation hardware to the extreme, thanks to the use of Gouraud shading that gives a shade of depth to the polygons, giving the game a realistic appearance.

To keep a stable 30FPS, which was the game’s target framerate, certain changes are made to the enemy opponents, where you only have up to 4 cars on screen at the same time, of which the AI-controlled cars are more spread out across the track. In contrast to the early titles where you will pass multiple cars in the same area, in R4 the opponents feel spaced out and you pass by them in a linear fashion.

Grand Prix

There is a story mode of some sort, you can choose from four teams that will have their own unique manager representing the company. Here you have a direct dialog that gives more detail into the backstory of the teams and how they tie into the Ridge Racer Grand Prix. After every race you will have a meeting with them and their dialog is dependent on how you perform (which place you finish in). There is no dialogue for when you lose or fail to qualify, as the game will prompt you to retry or will go straight to a game over screen.
The team choice will also affect the ending epilogue (although on some emulators there is a bug that causes only the MMM epilogue to play)

The Teams

Four teams come with Ridge Racer Type 4, all of which are some reference to another Namco arcade game franchise.

Conversation with your team representative

Micro Mouse Mappy: A French racing team led by Sophie Chevalier. The easiest team in the game which is recommended for new players.
R.T.S: Lead by Enki Gilbert, He starts off as a perfectionist, expecting you to come in first place in every race but eventually softens u after learning of the Pac Racing Club’s entry. Its implied the manager looks to the player as a second son, due to his actual son being involved in an accident that cost him his life. Towards the end he wants the player to take the race easy, fearing history could repeat again like the death of his son.
Dig Racing Team: My favorite team since I like the underdog teams, They’re a struggling team that is under budget and as a result will enable to provide fast cars from a majority of the races, meaning you will need to rely on skill in order to get ahead of the competition.
Pac Racing Club: Lead by Shinji Yazaki, seems to only care about the results of the race, but will open up over time about a past Gran Prix where Enki’s son died during a race in which he was involved in.

The Cars

There are lots of cars included in the game, over 320 in fact. Many of these are unlocked by beating the Grand Prix modes across various teams and car manufacturers.

Garage cars are the cars you unlock during the Grand Prix events and can come from four manufacturers, across four different teams, giving 16 different design variations. However the game will reward you with a different car depending on your performance of the early events, ie, if you come 1st 2nd or 3rd during the first heat, will influence the type of upgrades you have, which the game counts as an additional car. Therefore in order to unlock all cars, you have to play the Grand Prix with the same manufacturer/team combo several times, coming deliberately in 3rd/2nd and 1st place for each run.
The garage can only hold a limited amount of cars, and will you have to swap out locked cars in order to play them in time attack or link/multiplayer.

There are also a few preset cars that are already unlocked for use in time attack or for two-player mode, these are also in grip or drift varieties. These don’t seem to have any defined name, other than Preset G3, Preset D4, etc. Most players will refer to them by the color, which comes in (red, black/Grey, white or yellow)

And then you have the cars unlocked using the extra trials, you can only unlock these by winning a Grand Prix with a specific manufacturer, although the team does not matter much, except for the performance tuning.

The Tracks

  • Helter Skelter: The first track you will probably play, set in Japan Yokohama and shares with Out Of Blue. A good track that serves as an introduction to the game’s drift mechanics and style. The song Pearl Blue Soul always plays on this course.
  • Wonderhill: The second track that is played on a late spring afternoon that gives a sunset sky. This track shares with the Heaven and Hell track that appears later in the game. The music on this track can differ if you are racing with the RTS team (Revlimit Funk plays), otherwise Naked Glow will usually play, and it really suits this course
  • Edge of the Earth: Set at night in an airport that leads into a small city, one of my favourite courses since you can go full speed, but also must be mindful of the courses.
  • Out of Blue: In contrast to the previous track, this one is set very early in the morning and shared with Helter Skelter, with OOB separating into its own path, which features locations near a shipping dock. Some of the scenery here reminds me of the original Ridge Racer track. The corners on this track can be brutal, so make sure you are used to the car’s handling.
  • Phantomile: It’s a very short course in comparison to the others, and the corners are rather savage. The Motor Species song always plays for this course. Also just so happens this race is set on the same day as my birthday.
  • Brightest Nite: Another course set at night time, this one also shares with Edge of the Earth. This one is set later at night and features a huge drop towards the end of the tack
  • Heaven and Hell: Shares with Heaven and hell, although it’s set earlier in the day which gives off a different feel of the track, being much brighter.
  • Shooting Hoops: The last track to race and it’s a good and simple one, set at midnight of December 31st 1999 on the eve of the new millennium. The song Movin’ in Circles always plays for this track and on the last lap you can see fireworks being set off as the new millennium is upon us (Cue airplanes falling out of the sky due to the Y2K bug)

Vs and Link Battle

Link battle adds the ability to play with up to four different players, across two consoles. This is similar to how early titles handled multiplayer where two consoles are connected together using the official link cable, along with two displays and copies of the game.
If the game detects another console connected using the serial link cable, the link battle option will appear in the main menu. Sadly in PCSX-R whilst we are able to establish a link between two instances with a Linux Virtual machine (running Ubuntu & Pop_OS), the speed is incredibly slow and unplayable, and whilst we can navigate the link mode menus, the game will display an error message when we try to start the race.

The regular VS mode can also be accessed by having two controllers connected to the console, where the game plays in a split-screen mode allowing for both racers to race at the same time through one console. You can combine this with the link battle to have a total of four players in a single race, with two players per console.

The multitap is not supported here, only a maximum of two players per console.

Further Information

Decal Editor

Like in Rage Racer, a decal can be created and applied to your team’s car which can be any pattern. Here the PlayStation mouse is best used

The Namco NeGcon is fully supported for steering and acceleration, in addition to the DualShock analog sticks.

A visual blur effect can be applied when a race is being replayed, activated by pressing the L1 or R1 buttons.