I recently got the chance to dive into the new motorcycle racing game/sim, RiMS Racing. So, I fired the game up and began navigating its menus and trying to get a race going. Once on the track, I was stoked to run some laps… What followed, however, were some very frustrating and unintentionally-hilarious moments. You see, motorcycle racing simulations are an interesting genre to take on – especially when compared to reviewing a car-based racing title. This is mainly because riding a motorcycle (which I do IRL) is a lot more of a full-body experience. It is simply too complex and nuanced for most standard gaming peripherals to allow you to smoothly control and maintain a certain level of fun. Countersteering, leaning into a turn, and jutting out your knee to slide around a corner is something that is very difficult to properly experience playing a motorcycle simulation on a game console or PC.
When I began playing RiMS Racing on my PC, I was using my keyboard, which was hilariously not up to the task. It is simply not precise or robust enough. My racer was high and low-siding constantly and, while frustrating, it sort of cracked me up that he just kept doing it over and over again (I shuddered at the thought of his digital medical bills). He should have been pulled out of the race for being a danger to himself and others. But, I digress… I plugged in my game controller and things improve somewhat – although I was still having a frustrating time trying to get the hang of the simulation aspect. RiMS Racing, when set on anything other than the easier difficulty settings, is a very hard sim to play. RiMS has modeled seemingly every detail dealing with the weather, track, bike, rider skill, you name it – they even take factors like brake disc temperature into account! Even easy mode isn’t that easy, and will provide challenge to many racing gamers out there.
Despite this learning curve, if you can find a control setup that allows you enough precision (it would be great if a company came out with a set of motorcycle-specific racing controls – I wonder what that would look like!), RiMS Racing is one of the most advanced motorcycle simulations ever made. This extends into choosing and maintaining your bike as well. There are 8 high-end racing bikes in the game (Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10 RR, Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory, BMW M 1000 RR, Ducati Panigale V4 R, Honda CBR1000RR ABS, MV Agusta F4 RC, Suzuki GSX-R1000R, and the Yamaha YZF-R1) and you can customize them with a ton of tweaks and parts. Only having 8 bikes might be a turn-off for some as that isn’t a whole lot in most racing games. However, I would just bring up that RiMS is, first and foremost, a detailed simulation which makes it a difficult situation to simulate a lot of bikes equally well. I am actually surprised they were able to model 8 so well!
The career mode provides a lot of instruction in motorcycle handling and customization as well as allowing gamers to upgrade their bikes over time. It’s a bit light when it comes to career choices and more RPG elements that have become all the rage in sports games these days, but its focus is always on the racing so I can’t help think its a design choice instead of an accidental ommission. Despite this, career mode feel a bit tacked-on, and some of the game design choices I can’t let go so easy. For instance, you can’t find out what track and weather conditions are for an upcoming race until you’ve purchased a research team. There are teams for everything, but how hard would it be for a racer to simply call up the weather for a city on the day of the race? They should allow you some basic info at least – then give you more specifics once the team is in place.
Visually, RiMS Racing is good for the hardcore simulation that it is, although in sunny and clear weather conditions the shader seems to make things appear very… Artificial. The object pop-in when the scenery clears out is also a little jarring. However, things improve when weather kicks in and that’s where the game’s graphics engine shines. Weather is presented in such a way that it adds intensity – not just on a motorcycle performance level but on a human anxiety level. Seeing that wet track all around you, knowing your traction is going to take a big hit amps up the stakes – especially in a career mode where you can’t restart a race if you’re not doing well!
Overall, RiMS Racing is one of the most advanced and realistic racing motorcycle simulations ever. You just need to make sure you’re using a difficulty level within your skill level and a control setup that allows you to take as much advantage and control of the bike as possible.