I often struggled to pay attention at school to subjects that I thought didn’t relate to something I later wanted to do in life. Business Studies, History and IT were good, but in Psychology or French, my mind would wander, daydreaming about something far more interesting. Vehicles and video games, usually.
In many ways, RiMS Racing takes me back to those formative years. Sure, you can ride motorcycles as fast as you can around a track and there’s a career to play through. But this is an educational tool more than anything else.
As someone who is toying with the idea of enrolling in a CBT at present, it arrives at an opportune moment as a lesson where I won’t start to doodle in the back of my textbook…
What is RiMS Racing?
To fully appreciate what this game by new Milanese team RaceWard Studio is trying to achieve, you need to step back for a moment and re-learn what a simulation can deliver.
There are simulations out there that perfectly recreate the sensation of driving a GT3 race car around a sodden Oulton Park. There are simulations with the primary aim of delivering a closely matched and competitive online race. There’s also a veritable smorgasbord of weird and wonderful sims out there in a burgeoning market for leftfield subjects such as Bus Simulator, Lawn Mowing Simulator and PowerWash Simulator.
It’s these latter releases that RiMS Racing is surprisingly more akin to. Like how organising your spanners in Car Mechanic Simulator or playing with your diff locks in SnowRunner, often it’s the preparation that is the engaging element.
Recent motorcycle game Ride 4 is not a fair comparison in this instance. That’s more about motorcycle collecting in an accessible fashion, whereas RiMS Racing takes the bold step of including ‘only’ eight bikes in total and instead focuses on the number of parts available – over 500 across 45 different component types, in fact. This is a detailed simulation through and through.
Then again, don’t think of this as a rival to the Early Access sim title TrackDayR either, but we’ll get to the on-track antics later…
The master plan
Your headquarters is where you’ll spend most of your time. Once you’ve purchased your first motorcycle and progressed through the hand-holding tutorials, you can get stuck into fettling.
Everything from the brake callipers to the saddle, tyres and wing mirrors, plus a whole load more, is interchangeable. Every time you use your steed, it will wear out these parts. Crash, which will happen, and parts will wear down even quicker – even scratches to the fairing remain after each race until you eventually replace it.
This means you’ll need to check through the condition of your bike on a regular basis. You can even do this mid-race by using the Motorbike Status Check (MSC) which allows you to see how worn your tyres are, for example.
When it comes to changing each facet of your ride, there are more quick time events than a David Cage game. You twizzle the left stick one way, then hold the left trigger before hitting a face button six times to remove certain parts.
Each part of a part, if you catch my drift, is a stage. So, you often start with a simple button prompt to remove screws or bolts, before advancing to more intricate manoeuvres to dismount old parts or mount new parts.
There is also a component marketplace where you can shop from a wide range of officially licensed consumables. The developers are very keen to stress, once again, that this is a simulator, so just like real life if you have enough money, you can buy any go-faster upgrade at any time – no parts need to be unlocked. Lightly worn parts from your bike can also be sold on a second-hand market.
It’s more detailed than the Sistine Chapel and is clearly RiMS Racing’s raison d’être. We’ll have to wait and see closer to release if these tasks become repetitive or retain their novelty over the game’s duration.
Seeing as you want to reduce the wear of your motorbike, a Ducati Panigale V4R in this instance, you are careful in race scenarios and feel more attached to it. It’s analogous to playing Nintendogs or if you remember the curious portable virtual pet craze, Tamagotchi. Yeh, like that, but a caring for motorcycle, not an egg watch.
On the road to stardom
Once you’ve prized yourself away from the motorbike stand, the main racing mode is a lengthy single-player career. Here you take your fettled bike, and your customised rider (something which we hope to have more time with at a later date), from beginner level all the way through the champion of the world.
There isn’t a selection of leagues or categories, the structure as straightforward as it gets, one event after the next. For the most part, you’ll be racing or setting quick laps, either on your own ride or a borrowed vehicle.
In this preview build, we got a taste of the first ten events to provide a flavour of what’s available, so we don’t know for sure if the type of challenges is more varied as you progress, but certainly, at this stage, there are a lot of seven-lap races.
Do well in events, earn cash. Spend cash on parts. Rinse and repeat. You can also earn Team Points, which are then spent on a skill tree. Advancing through the various skills unlocks features such as automatic pit stops, reduced wear rates or additional bike setup slots. There will also be research and management divisions to dive into within the final game.
To spice things up, there will be online multiplayer, and rejoice, split-screen offline multiplayer too.
On track, finally
At last, we hit the circuit and it’s here where it really hits home that being a mechanic is the core strength RiMS Racing.
In this work in progress build, the handling feels a bit lumpen. When the bike squirms under braking, the animations feel too stiff. It’s as if your rider has planks of wood within their race suit, with rigid reactions to inputs. The initial turn-in just isn’t as elegant as other motorcycle titles.
It uses the KT Racing game engine, primarily for the visuals. The RaceWard team has made the bikes and therefore the handling from scratch, so initial comparisons to the technology-sharing TT Isle of Man games are wide of the mark. It’s clearly differentiated from the road-racing series, but I’m interested to see if the final version adds some finesse to the handling performance.
Full DualSense controller support is promised for the PS5 version, so perhaps clever use of the adaptive triggers could assist with feeling when grip is diminishing.
Still, once again, you need to think about the motorcycle modelling first and the on-track action second. In this respect, in motion, the bikes still look incredibly detailed and special attention has clearly been placed on the engine sounds. Each reverberates in a distinct fashion – raspy and intense.
The QTEs return here too should you need to visit the pits. We recently published an article discussing dream racing game features, one of which was controllable pitstops – last seen in Formula One Championship Edition from 2006. Well, there are here. A few QTEs later, your fuel is topped up and fresh tyres are on the bike. You won’t be setting any refuelling time records, but you will at least have fun.
The tracklist is not particularly extensive, much like the vehicle roster, but it is at least varied, with 10 circuits and five courses based upon real roads. These are road-based performance bikes after all, so the team wanted to virtually recreate some road-trip-esque vibes.
Wait and see
RiMS Racing is a brand-new franchise that is without parallel and in the current game market, that is a breath of fresh air. The component management acts as one part school and one part mechanic sim, while instead of trying to include as many vehicles as possible, RaceWard has prioritised detail. I just wish for a more fluid on-track experience at this early juncture.
We look forward to seeing how the game progresses ahead of its release on PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox Series, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on the 19th August.