RiMS is different enough to carve out a welcome niche for itself, but it is in need of some refinement
- Developer: RaceWard Studio
- Publisher: Nacon
- Release date: 19th August 2021 (EU), 24th August 2021 (NA)
- Genre: Motorbike Racing, Simulation
- Platforms: Xbox One/Series X|S, PlayStation 4/5, Switch, Windows PC
- Reviewed on: Xbox Series X and S
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
RiMS Racing Review
Motorcycle racing is an intricate sport, full of compromise. It takes a team of mechanics, working in conjunction with feedback from the rider, to get the best out of the machine each and every race weekend. Change one setting at the rear of the bike, and the front will also behave differently. Such is the nature of setting up and tuning a motorcycle.
RiMS aims to capture this dedication to the intricate details of machine setup, while also being a game that is playable and, more importantly, enjoyable.
Whether or not RaceWard Studios have managed to pull off this ambitious premise remains to be seen.
Right off the bat, RiMS slaps some leathers on you and sends you out onto the track for your tutorial. What follows is a clunky lap, full of stop/start interruptions by the narrator, which pauses the action to explain certain elements of riding.
It does this mid-corner.
Never an ideal place to pause a racing game at the best of times; downright annoying when it’s your first go and you don’t yet know how the physics work. It’s sheer joy to be put back into the action, only to crash moments later because you are no longer holding the same lean angle you had before it paused. A minor issue really, as it is only the tutorial. But not the best way to start off with the game.
It is during this tutorial lap that you are introduced to the MSC (Motorbike Status Check) system. This is the beating heart of RiMS, where you can inspect a daunting array of components that will need constant monitoring and repairs as you progress through your career.
You will then be told to head for the pits, where the game introduces its quick-time event style pitstop mechanics. To get your mechanics working faster changing tyres or fueling up the bike, you’ll be required to perform several button/thumbstick combinations when prompted. I like this idea, and it could add a real sense of tension during multiplayer races where pit stops are involved.
Tutorial lap complete, it’s off to the garage to set up your career profile. It is here that you will meet the incredibly clunky menu system. It took me quite a while to work out how to navigate around and to find where all the different modes were hidden. It really is a baffling menu system which I hope the developers will improve with future updates.
All the expected options are here, from selecting your body type (male or female) and riding style to the welcome option of adjusting your controller to suit your preferred inputs if the default settings are not to your liking. The difficulty settings can be easily adjusted to suit your skill level.
Once you’ve sorted all that out, it’s time to choose your bike. There are 8 models to choose from. The Aprilia RSV4, BMW M1000RR, Ducati Panigale V4, Honda CBR1000 Fireblade, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, MV Augusta F4, Suzuki GSX-R 1000 and the Yamaha YZF-R1.
Not exactly a smorgasbord of choice, but this is not where RiMS’ strengths lie.
First, we need to address the way this game implements the changing of parts. You will need to change your brake pads after one lap of your career, and here will be the moment that may make or break the enjoyment for you.
To change your parts, you need to “undo” them by performing a number of button press combinations. To undo the screws on a brake caliper, you’ll need to rotate your left thumbstick until it’s done. To remove the pads, you’ll have to push left on the thumbstick and hold down the X button. And so on, for every part. I think this was a huge mistake on the developer’s behalf. Games are supposed to be fun. And while I understand that this is a simulation, I feel that this is taking it a bit too far. I would go as far as saying this could be a deal-breaker for a lot of players and can easily see this aspect becoming very tiresome, very quickly.
The career mode offers a wide array of different events, ranging from Academy Events, which set you certain tasks to complete (hitting sector times, passing x amount of opponents, finishing in x position etc), Brand Events, which pay out components for your chosen brand of bike, Manufacturer Competition Events where you can win the bike you compete on, and many more that offer incentives to complete. It’s an impressive career roster, which is a welcome addition that seems to be lacking in a lot of other bike games.
One day, there will come a racing game where the AI opponents aren’t all homicidal, axe-wielding maniacs that want to kill you at every opportunity. Alas, today is not that day. You simply don’t exist to them. They will try to ride through as if you are not even there. Given that there is no rewind option at all in this game, I can foresee a lot of broken controllers in some players futures. Mine included.
Your rider can be customised with different helmets, leathers, boots etc. These will all deteriorate as they get used. Crash less, and your gear will last longer. This is a great addition, as riding carelessly has real consequences. The same applies to your bike. If you want things to last longer, ride more carefully. Take care of your bike, and it will cost you less of your winnings to repair for the next race. Try to avoid the axe-murderer AI (if you can).
All of the tunable components, such as suspension, shocks, gears and tyre pressures can be fully adjusted to suit each rider’s different preferences.
You can access the Workshop at the motorbike stand, where almost every conceivable part can be replaced or upgraded. This is where RiMS separates itself from the pack. I could go on at length about all the things you can do, but it basically boils down to this:
If it unbolts, you can unbolt it. And then you can replace it. For example, you can replace the fairings. Bolt by excruciating bolt. It really is an astounding level of customisation. A disturbing thing happened to me while I was checking out the fairing replacement system, though. I removed all the screws, took everything apart just to see what happened, checked out the naked R1 like a deranged pervert, and then put her clothes back on. All except for the seat unit. Which had completely disappeared and I haven’t been able to find it since. It has just wiped itself from the game completely. My R1 no longer has a seat.
This could be down to my complete ineptitude, the not-very-easy-to-navigate menus, or it could be a bug that will no doubt get patched. It’s a coin toss really.
The track roster is a little thin, with only nine real-world tracks:
- Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
- Circuit Paul Ricard.
- Circuit Zolder.
- Fuji Speedway.
- Monsanto Circuit.
- Nürburgring GP Circuit.
- Silverstone Circuit.
- Suzuka Circuit.
- Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca.
These are joined by five fictional point to point stages (think rally special stages) that can be run in either direction, making for a total of 19 different tracks on which to crash yourself silly.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, no multiplayer lobbies could be found so I’m unable to tell you what the multiplayer experience is like.
The graphics are handled by the KT Engine by KT Racing, the same engine that powers the Isle of Man TT games. The handling and physics, however, have been built from the ground up to give a far less arcade-type feeling of riding than TT managed, but don’t expect the feel of Ride 4 or MotoGP21. This is fine, though. RiMS is a different type of beast. The more laps I ran, the better it started to feel, and once you get towards the limits of grip, it lets you know, through the controller’s vibration feedback, of an imminent trip to the gravel trap.
The graphics are very polished, and the bikes are absolutely stunning in every detail. The tracks have been beautifully rendered, and the scenery is lovely when it all goes wrong and you throw yourself at it. However, the colour palette doesn’t make it look as clearly defined as it could be.
For me, one little gripe was that the rider looks awkward on the bike when in full tuck behind the screen. Riders just don’t sit on bikes like that. Frogs, maybe. But that’s a minor issue, and possibly just me being a bit picky. You can choose from many different camera views, and the onboard helmet camera is the best I’ve experienced on a bike game. As per usual, I was much faster with a chase cam, but it’s well worth the experience to give it a go.
The way that the wear and tear on your tyres and components is implemented is very good. Tyres are affected by all sorts of variables, from track temperature and surface type to tyre pressures. It’s quite an experience to put on an old set of worn-out slicks and try to set some decent times.
On the Xbox Series X, the frame rate was a steady 60fps, but on the Series S, we had issues with occasional screen tearing. The sound is a bit of a disappointment, too. The bikes just don’t sound very good; constantly hitting the rev limiter every time the back wheel spins up can be quite grating to the ears.
All in all, RiMS is a worthy addition for the committed motorcycle racing fan. It has every option you could want, looks fantastic with exceptional attention to detail, handles quite well (not in the same league as Milestone’s games, but better than TT2), and it has a huge career mode that will keep you occupied for quite some time. The casual gamer may likely be put off by all the simulation aspects of the game, but for the devoted, treasures lie within.