RiMS Racing Review
Imagine growing up in urban Philadelphia, the only daughter of a veteran motorcycle cop who was killed in action when you were a young girl. Your dad’s beloved bikes sit shrouded like corpses in the garage until one day in your late teens, something compels you to pull off the tarp and sit on one of his motorcycles. It feels like home, and so you beg one of your dad’s cop buddies to teach you to ride. You’re a natural, it makes you feel strong and confident and somehow you can imagine your dad’s guiding presence when you ride. You start to race, and soon you start to win those races. They call you Hurricane, because you tear up the track like a storm but seem utterly at peace in the middle of the tumult.
If you enjoy that kind of Formula One-level melodrama (that I just made up), I have bad news. RiMS Racing has none of it. But if you love motorcycles, riding them, pushing them to their limits, obsessing about every nut and bolt and piece of gear, then RiMS Racing is definitely your game.
While the ranks of the motorcycle racing subgenre aren’t quite as populated as that of automotive racing, there are some established titles that a new, upstart franchise like RiMS Racing will be compared to, most notably the excellent but punishing MotoGP2021 or Ride 4 which makes exceptional use of the DualSense controller. RiMS Racing focuses literally on the nuts and bolts of the motorcycle racing experience, allowing players to essentially learn to disassemble and reconfigure every part of their bikes, while providing an exceptionally challenging racing experience and somewhat bare bones career mode–at least in terms of the newbie-friendly character driven drama that some automotive sim cousins provide.
As with auto racing, the components of your bike are incredibly important and even minute adjustments or upgrades make significant impacts on handling, speed, and other aspects of the riding and racing experience. From brake pads to mirrors, from tires (from which there are dozens to choose) to throttles, RiMS Racing encourages you to get in there and wrench around, making each small mechanical adjustment a combination of controller inputs. You need to unscrew the screws with the thumbsticks, replace the part (a different input) and then replace the screws. If you’re really into motorcycles and understanding how every part works and impacts the bike, you’ll love this simulation aspect. If you just want to get in and race, you’ll wish all this stuff could happen behind the scenes.
Is there a tutorial? Sure, though it’s mostly a series of button prompts and tool tips. It’s pretty perfunctory, all in all, and you can’t help but get the feeling the developers are anxious to get on with the business of racing and wrenching and assume you are, too. There really seems to be a need for a motorbike racer that is genuinely newcomer friendly.
Deep and Narrow vs Wide and Shallow
RiMS Racing — at least at launch — doesn’t overwhelm with its selection of less than a dozen bikes, all from known and respected manufacturers, instead focusing on making each bike a perfect simulation both in the shop and on the track. The bike you buy off the showroom floor is yours to upgrade, modify and tune to your heart’s (and wallet’s) content, so that it never feels like you’re limited by not having dozens of bikes in your garage.
While it eschews the melodrama of Formula One’s campaign, RiMS Racing does have a robust career mode and a large variety of side mission challenges that include things like passing a set number of riders, achieving a specific speed or placing in a certain position. Off the track, you visit your garage, where you can repair or upgrade your bike and rider’s gear with over 500 different components, and plan your next race. It’s a bit more abstracted than emotionally engaging but moving through the career mode is still compelling.
It’s also incredibly challenging, even using a generous number of assists. Like auto racing, the sport of motorbike racing is precise, visceral, and demanding. Motorcycles add the complication of multiple brakes to master, the use of body position in cornering and the impact of small mechanical issues having a major effect on performance. RiMS Racing does a spectacular job of recreating the heart-stopping, on-the-edge feeling of speed. The controls are not easy to master, but the controls are perfectly aligned with the experience.
Like its selection of bikes, the selection of tracks is also a bit limited (10 well-known tracks and a few road courses in the US) but those included are excellent, varied and incredibly well rendered. Weather and lighting are outstanding and their impact on the riding experience is immediately noticeable. Although I thought the game’s techno music didn’t add much to the already high-adrenaline races, RiMS Racing has amazing audio design when it comes to the deep, throaty and downright intimidating sound of the bikes’ engines at full throttle.
Some racing sims split the difference between arcade-like accessibility and realism, but RiMS Racing leans pretty hard towards the latter. While not entirely unfriendly to novices, this is a game geared towards the motorcycle enthusiast. With its emphasis on what happens in the shop between races at least as much as on the races itself, RiMS Racing has a supply-your-own-drama career mode, but excels in supplying an exacting and sometimes thrilling simulator of racing on two wheels.
***PS5 Code provided by the publisher for review***
Incredibly detailed motorcycles and components
Career mode lacks drama and immediacy
A bit intimidating to newcomers
Limited number of tracks and bikes