STAFF REVIEW of RiMS Racing (Xbox One)

Friday, September 3, 2021.
by Adam Dileva

RiMS Racing Box art While there’s no shortage of racing games out there, there’s not nearly as many motocycle based ones when compared to their four wheel counterparts. If I had to name a few moto series games off the top of my head, MotoGP, TT: Isle of Man and Ride are really the only ones that I could think of that aren’t MX based. There’s clearly an audience for it as the sport is quite popular, so when a new entry into the genre emerges, my interest is piqued.

Developed by Raceword Studio and published by Nacon, RiMS Racing is a new entry into the moto genre that aims to not just simply be another run-of-the-mill simulator, but actually adds a few different gameplay mechanics that I can’t recall seeing in any other racing game. There’s big competition though if you want to take on established brands, so not only does RiMS Racing provide solid simulation two wheeled racing, but also adds a unique engineering mechanic where you’ll need to actually swap out individual parts in the garage, just as you would in real life.

Career Mode is where you’ll be spending the bulk of your time, spanning 70 grueling events that will take dedication to complete all of them. You begin by creating your racer, though not with many options compared to other racers, then choose your first bike. While there’s not a large selection of bikes, only eight actually in the base game, they are some of the most powerful and desirable European and Japanese motorcycles available today. Your first bike is free, so choose from the Ducati Panigale V4 R, MV Agusta F4 RC, Aprilia RSV4, BMW M 1000 RR, Suzuki GSX-R1000R, Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR and Yamaha YZF-R1.

With such a low number of bikes, it definitely seems as though more effort has gone into making them as accurate and realistic as possible, especially when you can ‘explode’ the bike to swap in and out parts, but more on that shortly. While I’ve never rode any of these dream bikes, I can only assume that they perform exactly as they would in the real world given the collaboration with the manufacturers.

Throughout the course of the season’s 70 events you’ll take part in plenty of different style of races, each with varying rewards, though you’re unable to skip any events and must participate in them in order. Just like the low bike count, the circuits also aren’t plentiful, but they do include iconic courses like Laguna Seca, Silverstone, Nurbergring and more. There’s even a handful of point A-to-B maps that are quite challenging as they take place on regular roads across different country landscapes instead of closed race tracks.

With only 10-15 tracks or so including reverse versions, and 70 events, you’re going to be racing many of the same courses numerous times, so a bit of repetition can set in after some time. Races will vary in laps, length, weather and more, so there is some variety, as racing the same track in the rain is night and day compared to dry conditions. Where RiMS Racing stands out from the competition is being able to swap hundreds of aftermarket parts into your bike, changing its handling quite dramatically. While it’s easy to simply swap in parts to increase your bike’s performance, those that want to tweak every aspect of their setup and loadouts are going to get even more out of the RiMS experience.

Most racing games tend to choose to cater to a more arcade or sim-like experience. RiMS Racing absolutely lands on the sim side of the gameplay, offering a realistic racing experience that takes some getting used to. Your first few races will be filled with crashes and penalties for going off track, but once you start to dial in your bike and figure out its handling, it becomes thrilling to take 300+ kph straightaways or making perfect S-curves as fast as possible. There are numerous difficulty and realistic settings, so it’ll take a bit to figure out what works best for you when you’re starting your racing career.

The physics in RiMS Racing is absolutely incredible. You’re going to crash a lot, but that’s not the fault of the game or your bike, you just have to know how to best control your machine and make the necessary tweaks to be at peak performance. Even mid-race you can pause the action with a Motorbike Status Check (MSC) and see detailed information on nearly every part of your bike so that you can determine the best time to pit stop if needed or to change how you play. Slamming your brakes too hard and you’ll get feedback for doing so. Maybe your tire pressure or wear is starting to get low. This information is integral to being able to tweak your bike setup to suit your racing style.

Leaning and braking are integral to racing on two wheels, and you can’t simply slam the brakes or go full throttle, as the bike will absolutely fight you along the way and you’ll most likely lose control and go over the handlebars. You’re going to have to utilize easing on the triggers in and out of corners, knowing when the gear shift happens to then floor the gas as to prevent your wheels from slipping. Even knowing the angle you’re leaning is going to make a difference of when you should lay on the gas, as your back wheel will come out from under you if you gun it when you’re near horizontal or riding the edge of the grass.

Your headquarters is where you’ll spend your time in between races, not only changing and replacing parts for your bike, but choosing where to spend your upgrade points, either on Management perks, Research and Development or other areas. Certain race rewards grant you team points which can be spent in a variety of different trees, offering store discounts, more detailed information of upcoming races, less wear and tear on your bike or auto completion of mounting or unmounting bike parts. Each tree also has sub objectives that will give you bonus credits if fulfilled, like winning races with certain manufacture's parts or equipping a set amount of aftermarket parts on your bike.

Making RiMS Racing even more challenging are two other design decisions that some might question. First, there is no rewind feature at all. Sure, this makes sense for a true simulator, but there’s nothing more frustrating than bailing on a turn in a half hour race only to get passed near the end. To be fair, this does force you to become a better racer and more cautious. What I can’t get over though is how unfair and aggressive the AI can be when racing bots. They race in their dedicated line, and if you’re in their pathway, too bad for you, as they’re going to crash into you no matter what. This of course is hugely frustrating, so you’ve got to play cautious in those first few turns at the starting line until you see a clear passing opportunity.

Your default bike, regardless of choice, is going to be an amazing machine to control, but once you start to earn some cash and need to swap out worn out parts, it can make a night and day difference for performance and handling once you fit in some aftermarket pieces. Not only do you purchase from over 500 official parts, but you’re going to have to disassemble your bike to equip and unmount them, just as you would if you were a mechanic in the garage. I thought that changing some of the parts would make somewhat of a difference, but wow, spending the money on the bigger upgrades made a massive difference when it came to my bike performance. You get what you pay for.

Being able to disassemble your bike almost completely is a really unique mechanic I’ve not seen in any other racers. While someone like me that simply knows how to fill my vehicle with gas and put in oil, gearheads will most likely really adore this feature, as you have to unmount, unscrew and remove parts just to get at others. No parts are locked behind any progression walls either, you simply need to be able to afford them, having access to all of the official parts from the beginning.

Also, swapping in and out parts isn’t just a typical button press either. You’ll actually have to perform specific inputs like rotating the left stick to unscrew, holding a direction and pressing ‘A’, among other mini-games. It’s a really interesting gameplay mechanic that adds some realism and personalization to your bike, though having to do it every few races eventually does become a little tiresome. Thankfully you can opt to spend skill points on being able to auto mount and unmount parts should you wish. This also goes for pit stops, as you need to do this mini-game inputs during these as well.

While Career Mode is where you’ll spend the bulk of your time, there are a handful of other typical modes that you’d expect to find, as well as an online component. There are weekly online challenges you can partake in that test you on a specific track and bike, completing with an online leaderboard to see who is the best rider out there. There’s also a lobby system to race against other players as well, but over the course of reviewing, I was unable to find a single match with anyone else to try, so I can’t speak to its online quality. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean that the community for RiMS Racing is that small though, as once you’ve completed Career Mode there’s not much reason to repeating races unless you care about besting your old times and placements.

The KT Engine that Nacon uses in some of their other games, the bikes and tracks themselves look fantastic, as does the smooth framerate and animations, even down to the sparks when your foot pegs scrape the asphalt when cornering hard. Where the visuals falter is the draw distance, even on an Xbox Series X. You’re going to not most likely notice it given that you need to focus intently on your bike and racing lines while racing, but looking in the distance you can see the track boundaries and trees popping in far in the distance. Not a deal breaker by any means, but certainly not expected on a Series X while the rest of the game looks fantastic. For an even more immersive experience, you can race in first person view or even helmet cam, taking quite a lot of getting used to the pre-leans.

As for its audio, bikes sound authentic and unique based on which bike you’re racing with. I’m no expert, but I’m almost certain that I could hear a difference when I swapped in some aftermarket parts as well. You’re able to hear splashes of the puddles during races in the rain and even the back wheel squealing for traction when you’re hard banking a corner faster than you should. I quite enjoyed its EDM-like soundtrack, making my head bop during racing, getting me into ‘the zone’ and focusing that much harder. It should be noted though that you’re going to need to turn down the engine sounds audio specifically if you want to hear anything other than the whine of all that horsepower.

RiMS Racing is quite an enjoyable and addictive racer, adding unique gameplay elements when it comes to checking real-time bike information with MSC or choosing from hundreds of aftermarkets parts that you’ll need to actually mount and install onto your cycle. While a simulator at its core, many hardcore racing fans will find enough content here to keep them entertained for quite some time yet is just accessible enough for casual players to jump in and work towards completing the lengthy career. RiMS Racing strikes a great balance of quality and uniqueness, and I’m excited to see what they’ve got in store for a hopeful sequel in the future.

**RiMS Racing was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.4 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.8 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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