RaceWard Studio and Nacon are bringing a brand new bike racing franchise to consoles and PC later this year and I’ve been able to get a preview before the game’s release. It’s good. Very good.
I sat through a presentation recently where my fellow media peeps and I were talked through the intricacies of RiMS Racing. The developer was keen to push the realism, stating that there are over 500 spare parts you can use to modify your bikes and that you can take them apart, replace every component, and optimise your ride to your own specifications. I thought it sounded a bit overly ambitious, but then I played a preview build for myself and every word was true.
On the racing side, there’s not much that we haven’t seen done before. It’s motorbike racing and RiMS Racing does the basics just as well as anything else out there. Real-life tracks, varying levels of realism on those tracks (depending on your chosen settings,) and graphics that bring the motorsport to life, and remind me that Super Hang-On was once the pinnacle of bike games. Now look at where we’re at. Incredible.
It’s no surprise the game looks as great as it does – it’s using the KT Engine by the Nacon-owned studio KT Racing, some of the best in the racing business with the hugely successful WRC series being built on the proprietary engine, as well as the upcoming Test Drive Unlimited: Solar Crown.
The engine isn’t the only shared aspect between RiMS Racing and the WRC games. The career mode bears more than a passing resemblance to WRC 9’s career mode, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s basically WRC 9’s career mode tweaked and enhanced for bike racing, and I really enjoyed WRC 9’s progressions, so you’ll hear no complaints from me.
What I may have a whinge about is the quick-time events. Yes, you read that right – quick time events in a racing game. During pit stops, you can change your bike’s gear to suit your needs and tweak other performance modifiers. But, before the pit crew will start stripping your machine, you need to follow the on-screen prompts to get them to do their job. So twirling the left stick, pushing the stick and the cross button and holding that combo for a moment – this is how parts are removed, and then repeated to put parts on. During a race where every second counts, I didn’t really like the idea that quick-time prompts would affect my total time in the pits, especially when the on-screen prompts weren’t always accurate, though I’m putting that fault down to it being an in-progress build.
This is also how you tweak your ride at the home base garage, but I didn’t mind it at all in that setting. I was relaxed, humming along to my tunes, and genuinely interested in what was going on and seeing what makes a bike work. But in the middle of a race when I’m already lagging behind because of a few clumsy crashes? It’s not ideal. But it’s all in aid of the simulation. The faster you move your pit crew, the quicker you’re back on the track.
There’s just as much happening off the asphalt as there is on it. There’s a deep career mode where you’ll be able to expand your bike collection, your research and development, and your management team by spending Team Points earned during races. You also earn cash, or as the game calls it – credits. This currency is what you’ll use to buy new parts and improvements to all facets of your team. You can also earn some extra credit by flogging your old bike gear. So if you buy a new part, you can sell your old one and earn some extra scratch, and depending on the condition of it, the earning amount fluctuates.
There were some features I wasn’t able to test out, like the game’s multiplayer suite. In the full release the game will offer online competitive multiplayer as well as local split-screen so you can race with your mates and then flick the controller out of their hand when they enter the pit lane. Or is that just me?
RiMS Racing is hoping to stand out from the other bike racers by offering a bit more realism when it comes to the back-end of the business. In my short time with the preview, the racing gameplay has been as good as anything else that has come before it, but the real stand out is the depth of its management systems. Whether it’s pulling a bike apart and replacing every component with the gear you’ve earned through winning races, or tweaking your team for improved functionality on the tracks, or for some boosts in the financial department, there’s more depth here than in most racing games out there.
RiMS Racing releases on August 19th, 2021 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. You can get an early taste of the game via the free demo that will be available on Steam from June 16th.
Preview Disclaimer: This preview was carried out using an early PC build of the game provided by the publisher.