For all the great racing games that have come and gone over the years, it is unlikely many of them will be titles based on Motorcycles, at least not any that are themed on the more “realistic” aspects of the discipline. Let’s face it, we all enjoyed Excite Bike back in the day, but getting a good balance on motorcycles is tricky, much like riding them, so when RiMS was announced I couldn’t help myself but to give a modern bike racer a try and see if developer RaceWard Studio has managed to crack the case. So is this no-nonsense racing sim a Triumph or does it exhaust itself before crossing the finish line, let’s take a look.
A Mixed Event
The first thing that has to be mentioned about RiMS is, well, the name. Sadly, nothing about this name really stands out as a motorcycle title which is a shame considering the genre has very few entries to boast about and a solid bike-related title would have helped here but the name “RiMS” just doesn’t jump out at me and is unlikely to jump out for any motorcycle enthusiasts. Putting that aside though it’s what the title offers that will determine whether you want to sink your hard-earnt on it or not.
RiMS may be a sim but it waste’s no time giving you a high powered crotch rocket to wazz around the tracks with, after a tutorial that almost overstayed its welcome I was left to ride around a track to hone the skills I have just been taught. Anyone who has played a bike sim before will know that it can be a shaky affair getting to grips with the physics, in fact, my core memories of playing some of the older Moto GP titles are just of my rider falling off and sliding along the ground like a rocket-propelled turtle. For the most part, RiMS is no different and will take some getting used to even with a simple set-up to the control layout. The core balancing act will come down to the braking, R2 will apply the handbrake while pressing B will apply the foot brake, mastering this will be the key to taking corners correctly and keeping your limbs how nature intended.
RiMS makes no bones about being a loud and proud sim, to be honest, the title is not overly accessible with its strong emphasis on realism and precise controls. Though there are several difficulty settings to choose from, it was only by tinkering with some of the more in-depth settings that I was able to tailor the experience more to something I could halfway enjoy but when I did find a sweet spot things started to come together enough for me to hold my own on the track. Amongst the aids is the tried and tested racing line which will be traffic light coded for helping to manage your speed as you approach and take bends though whether you race with this on or off the bikes all feel drastically over sensitive and it often felt that a crash would occur with even the most minor of errors. Now granted, I am no expert when it comes to racing bikes aside from watching the superbikes live at Thruxton when the opportunity allows, my motorcycle riding experience is almost exclusive to cruisers but even so, I have had some hairy experiences (no they don’t include a close encounter with Bobby Elvis) out on the roads and it takes more than a few blades of grass before a rider starts breaking into a mid-air Tom Daily routine.
For the hardcore among you who wish to persevere and master the nuances of the controls then you will have eight licensed bikes to choose from. Not the largest offering I grant you, but they all rank among the powerhouse of racing bikes. RiMS foregoes the traditional progression of starting out with smaller bikes and working your way up and instead shoves you right into the action with a career mode that offers a selection of race events to get involved with as you lead your team to the promised land of championships. From your trusty garage which acts as the hub between race events you can edit your character, purchase new bikes and above all else, customise your existing bike to your heart’s content.
I have to be perfectly honest here, I developed a love-hate relationship with the customisation aspect of RiMS, not because it was bad per se, but it was almost too good to the point where the game began to feel like a Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator. As you crash, I mean, race your bike, parts will begin to deteriorate and will need replacing or upgrading, it is here where the level of detail really shows its quality. The developers have crafted a truly awesome upgrade system where you can tinker with just about every aspect of your bike from brake callipers to engine oil and air filters to name a few. This level of control over each element of your bike makes up for the small number of rides on offer by allowing you to create something that is truly your own. Coupled with an RPG style upgrade tree to enhance the experience this is where RiMS will definitely shine for the mechanically minded among you.
A Quick Time
Unfortunately, at least for me, the upgrade system isn’t quite as straightforward as it could or possibly should be. Swapping out components from the bike will involve a series of quick-time events (QTE’s) to simulate unscrewing and adjusting which may seem all well and good at first and fair play the dev’s wanted to make it interactive but considering how much time you will be spending in the garage performing upgrades and adjustments it began to feel like a bit of a chore. Constantly having to follow the onscreen prompts to do something simple like swap out a brake pad became annoying, this also extends to the pit stops where once again you must perform a series of QTE’s to complete the stop successfully. Some players may welcome this as a way of keeping engaged but for me, it just began to wear thin and I would prefer QTE’s to remain a thing of the past.
So when it’s all said and done, what does RiMS look like in action I hear you ask, you’ll be pleased to hear that running on the Series X RiMS looks very smooth. I wouldn’t say the graphics are mind-blowing but they certainly aren’t to be sniffed at. The tracks and bikes are well detailed with the weather and lighting adding some variation to the mix. The sound design is on point and I had no issues with the loading time lengths. The menu system from the hub does seem a little bit busy at first but a tutorial provided me with enough info to get underway and with the amount of time spent between races tinkering with setting and bike options it wasn’t long before I found my way around.
This brings me to my final point to consider, RiMS does feel like it is two games spliced together. On one hand, you have a very punishing racer that once mastered does provide some fun and on the other, you have a very in-depth garage and upgrade system that may be well conceived but it does drag you away from the racing action all too regularly. Considering a title like this requires a bit of finesse to get in the groove when on the track, it never leaves you there long enough to get in a solid flow of racing action which I found frustrating.
RiMS Racing is an ambitious title and one that is welcomed in the sparse world of bike racing games. Though not the most accessible title ever created the select hardcore fans it is aiming for will likely have fun if they have the time and patience to master its nuances but for anyone else, this is an unforgiving offering.
Review Code Provided
Format: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Genre: Racing, Simulator
Developer: RaceWard Studios
Download link: Microsoft Store