September 1, 2000
The Playstation 2 launch on March 4 in Japan was a huge success for Sony. In under 2 months the system has sold a staggering 2 million units, and has already surpassed the total sales of the Dreamcast in Japan. The biggest launch title by far was Namco's Ridge Racer V, the fifth game in the series after the 4 Playstation versions, and definitely the best looking.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series the original Ridge Racer was an amazing arcade game with the full version including a car to sit in while driving around the circuits. (Note: This very rare full sit down version can be found in Funtasia in the heart of Surfers Paradise.) When details about the original Playstation were announced one of the first games promised was an arcade perfect port of Ridge Racer, a feat that many thought was impossible. While the game wasn't quite arcade perfect (a drop in frame rate and graphical detail were evident) the game proved the power of the Playstation and helped it gain an insurmountable lead over the Sega Saturn. Several sequels followed including Ridge Racer Revolution, Rage Racer and most recently Ridge Racer Type 4. A fifth sequel was an obvious choice for Sony's newest console.
Ridge Racer V contains a total of seven courses, which are all set through the same city but on different paths. Of course each track has varying difficulty depending on which one you select. The game also contains several different game modes including Grand Prix, Time Attack, Versus, Dual and the Free Run mode. The meaning of these modes is fairly obvious and no explanation is required. Ridge Racer V also allows you to select from 6 cars to use around the courses.
If there is one potential problem with this game it is the graphics. While there is a lot of detail in the environments and surroundings and the frame rate never drops below 60fps, the Playstation 2's lack of anti-ailising has reared its ugly head. (For those of you unsure about anti-ailising it smoothes out jaggered edges on objects such as cars.) Look at the screenshots to see what I mean.
There has been rumors that Namco will polish the game off for it's release outside Japan, but whether this holds true remains to be seen. The Japanese game was developed in under a year which is a lot less then the typical amount of time taken for games these days. Even if the game isn't cleaned up one thing is certain, Ridge Racer V will sell a lot of systems late this year.