Not content with bringing only Tekken to the PlayStation 2, Namco has given Ridge Racer the 128-bit treatment too. While it may not support the much-hyped "full analog" buttons on the PlayStation 2's Dual Shock 2 controller, Namco fans will find a familiar friend within this game. Those new to the scene read on, for Ridge Racer 5 is a bag of mixed blessings.
Like Tekken Tag Tournament, this game is a Japanese import, and unfortunately leaves little of worth within the manual, for those who don't speak Japanese. The slimline plastic case snaps open like a book, with the manual kept flat by small latches on the left, and the game disc packaged the same way as most DVD disks on the right. The case itself is about the same size as a DVD case. As with all PlayStation 2 games that come in this case format, there is a memory card holder located above the disk cavity. A small, but thoughtful idea as the small size of memory cards can make them fall victim to being easily misplaced.
From reset, the game took about 10-15 seconds to load. The intro looked very much like it was rendered in real time using the game engine. The only time this was in doubt was when Namco's new Ridge Racer girl is seen. She moves with liquid smoothness, facial expressions in full effect, including individual hairs moving in accordance with her head movements. Any doubt is dispelled if you remove the CD at the beginning of the sequence as the intro continues on --without a hiccup. Although the buildings are fairly plain, and the track itself lacks anything eye-catching, it is the Namco girl that fascinates. Although she is only seen in this level of detail and animation in the intro, it is still built and displayed in real-time -- a good indication that the second generation PlayStation 2 games will be able to include this amount of graphical goodness.
Following the intro, the main menu slides into view with a layout and style reminiscent of Psygnosis's Wipeout titles. Bright colors and simple, stylized icons, with techno-pulse tunes sprinkled in the background.