New ImpressionsRidge Racer V

TOKYO - As the Ridge Racer games before it, Ridge Racer V is extremely addictive - see what we think so far.

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TOKYO - I'm addicted. Just as the previous installments before it, Ridge Racer V has me hooked - big time. I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon exploring the game - trying different cars, different portions of the track, and different racing tactics. It has that perfect Ridge Racer feel that makes you want to play it again and again. Most of us anticipated that RRV would come out on top as the best game to own for the PlayStation2 at launch. In my opinion, there's no contest whatsoever - RRV is light years beyond any of the other launch games in terms of gameplay experience.

If you're a fan of the Ridge Racer series, then you're going to have to check this one out as well. While it doesn't really offer anything new in terms of gameplay, the Ridge Racer formula has always been a good one, and this time around the overall presentation is so slick.

Graphically, RRV is pretty nice, as you most likely know by now. There is a little discernable pop-up in the background here and there, but you'd have to be looking hard for it to actually see it. I took one of our PS2 units over to a friend's place yesterday and hooked up RRV on his giant Sony Wega. It was so crisp and clear that it was scary.

Music-wise, I really like most everything I've heard so far. While the tunes for the past Ridge Racer games seemed to have their own distinct styles in each title, the ones in RRV are pretty varied and seem to borrow elements from all the previous versions. Even the options and configuration areas had some cool beats.

So while RRV doesn't really feel like anything new (it's just like the original Ridge Racer but with nice graphics), it is a great package. The courses, the menu, the interface, the cars - everything has the great Namco polish to it. And because of this, RRV is our hands-down pick of best PS2 launch game. Stay tuned for lots more in-depth impressions and media soon, followed by an import review.

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