Get on your bike and ride!
I played RiMS Racing on easy mode for 95% of my time reviewing it. The other 5% of the time, I was annoyed, frustrated, and just quite miserable as I constantly sent my poor rider head-over-arse with every corner.
RiMS Racing is a simulation, through and through. Its unforgiving, difficult, and unwieldy. Its biggest problem isn’t even its own fault – despite some nice DualSense features, I don’t think a gamepad can really do the job required when it comes to the fine control you need to really race a motorcycle.
Playing RiMS Racing, I found myself longing for one of those arcade bike machines. You know the kind – the tatty, battered and scuffed plastic bikes that have a whiff of piss about them. Now that is how you control a bike in a racing game.
I played for a couple of hours thinking that I had set the game’s physics to the easiest setting, but I had only set the game’s campaign difficulty to “Novice” and left the physics on the “Intermediate” mode. It was not fun at all.
It didn’t help that the screeching, squeaking, banging and clanging of my bike smashing its way into the barriers was blaring out of my DualSense every 30 seconds. If the DualSense wasn’t so expensive, I would have launched the thing off the balcony.
After a couple of hours hating life, RaceWard Studio, and video games in general, I checked the settings and noticed I was not on the easy mode I desperately needed. Once I sorted this out, RiMS Racing morphed into the game I was familiar with.
Now I know that sounds like I’m going against the game’s ultra-hardcore simulation, but the option is there and, if I’m being totally honest, car racing is my usual food, not bike racing. It was the other way around when I was a kid, but sometime in my teenage years the flip switched and I doubled the wheel count and left the bikes in the garage.
In my quest to age 100, I’ve found that my desire for hardcore simulations has waned. As a younger man, the harder the game, the better. The more realistic a game was, the more I wanted it. These days I just want to turn a game on and have a play without inviting my blood pressure to the party.
RiMS Racing is a hardcore simulation if you want it to be. If your idea of fun is hitting every racing line perfectly, managing your lean angles, tyre pressure, and all the rest of it – great, you’ll have a blast, so long as you can bridge the connection between you, the inadequate input of a gamepad, and a motorbike that needs to be gently nudged but never forcefully pushed, lest it pushback and throw you away.
If you’re that kind of person, you’ll probably get a kick out of the game’s extensive customisation options, too. To be fair, it is very impressive and I don’t think I’ve seen so much granular choice in any racing game before.
You can swap out every part of your bike, from the windscreen to the brake pads to the wing mirrors – you can pull it all off and replace it with new stuff, so long as you’ve got the cash for it, as well as the patience to actually flick through the inventory screens and manage your bits and bobs.
This is actually an integral part of the game’s lengthy campaign mode. Every part of your bike will suffer from wear and tear, even more so if you’re throwing your bike off the track ten times a race. Over time, the condition of your parts wears down. For some things, like the wing mirrors, this isn’t really an issue – especially on PS4 where the wing mirrors don’t actually mirror anything. But for your brakes, brake fluid, tyres, and all the other actual mechanical parts, it’s a big deal.
I found it easier to just swap out bits that needed replacing as and when they were knackered, rather than building up a collection of spare parts, though some races actually reward you with parts in addition to cash, so if you’re any good (or an easy mode lover) you’ll build up a small collection of spare parts anyway.
Something I liked at first but quickly got bored of was the mechanic mechanic. That’s not a type-o. You take on the role of the mechanic by combining button presses and stick twirls to manually remove and replace each piece of hardware on your bike. It’s a nice idea but it gets old fast.
The developers must have known this, too, because you can buy a perk with your Team Points (currency for upgrading your racing team) that removes the interactive part of the process and turns the workshop into a regular old menu with easy swapping.
A lot is going on off the track and it’s just enough to make it feel like you’re gaining something and putting your winnings to good use without being an absolute slog.
On the track, RiMS Racing doesn’t quite qualify for a podium finish, but it’s not far off.
The RiMS Racing campaign mode is broken up into seasons of around 70 events, though you can reduce this number by skipping out on events from time to time. I tended to do this whenever I could, mainly because I got annoyed quickly with the long race times.
In Career Mode, you don’t have any say over how many laps you race for. Some events begin with warm-up sessions – which I always skipped – and then the races can go for seven laps, which, depending on your skill level, could mean around 15 minutes of solid racing. For me, that’s just a bit too long. There are single races you can set up outside of the campaign, though, so that’s something.
The actual racing is fun, so long as you’re playing on a difficulty level that you’re comfortable with. It’s good racing but it’s nothing we haven’t seen anywhere else. What it does do differently, though, is it gives you in-race diagnostic tools.
So, if you think your bike feels off, you can press the touchpad and pause the game while you’re shown the condition of your bike’s components. Nice feature, sure, but I barely used it.
Technically, RiMS Racing is a bit disappointing. I mostly played on PS5 but I did also give the PS4 version a go, too.
On PS4, the game runs at 30fps and it looks OK. Nothing remarkable, just OK. On PS5, the game is supposed to run “up to” 60fps, and it’s very much a case of “up to”. It’s not consistent and while I’m not one of those frame-counting nerds, I could tell right away when it was dropping and hitching, and it didn’t feel great in those moments.
Graphically, it’s good, but there are some flaws with the presentation, mainly in how the game does its reflections. There’s a weird, distracting line effect across the screen that’s really evident when racing on a wet track. There’s also a noticeable pop-in of objects, especially during the point-to-point events where you can see further into the distance. For the most part, though, it looks good but it’s nothing spectacular.
That’s RiMS Racing in a nutshell: good, but not great. It’s a fine first attempt and a solid base to build on and I’m sure that motorcycle racing fans will lap it all up. Though, with only a small selection of bikes and tracks available, it may not last many laps.
RiMS Racing PS5, PS4 Review
- Overall - Good - 6.5/106.5/10
RiMS Racing is a solid foundation for RaceWard Studio to work on. The racing is by the numbers and its campaign mode is very familiar, but the depth of its simulation and customisation sets it apart. It’s rough around the edges but it’s a solid enough entry in the bike racing genre.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS5. Reviewed using PS5.