RiMS Racing aims to be the ultimate motorbike simulation, and not in a “Gran Turismo but for bikes” kind of way. Instead, RiMS Racing leans hard into the notion of simulating just a handful of bikes and the whole experience of running a team around one very finely tuned machine of your choice.
There are eight of the top bikes on the market available for you to choose when you start your career: Aprilia RSV4, BMW M1000 RR, Ducati Panigale V4R, Honda CBR1000 RR, Kawazaki Ninja ZX10 RR, MV Agusta F4 RC, Suzuki GSXR-1000, and the Yamaha YZF R1. From there, that bike stays with you throughout your whole career, though you can unlock the rest over time.
It’s here that you have a fundamental difference from most other racing games. This isn’t a car/bike collectathon like Gran Turismo or Ride because your first bike is already at or near the pinnacle of racing machinery. While that means you could consider it closer to a licensed game of a racing formula like MotoGP, you have more freedom within the career structure, along with more extreme ways that you can customise and tune your bike.
It’s a fascinating twist and the intention is that you gain an intimate knowledge of how your bike works and runs. You’re meant to learn the specifics of your bike’s feel as you’re racing to intuit how it is gradually wearing down bit-by-bit.
The bike handling model straddles the line for me. Picking the Honda CBR1000 RR, my bike stops really well with the Intermediate handling model – specifically one that aims not to punish you too heavily for late braking and has a little bit of forgiveness in general. Even with that caveat, I could run significantly into the red of the racing line and still make a corner’s apex, the turn in being responsive, and needing real restraint on the throttle on the way out to avoid slipping. It’s maybe not the liveliest of bike handling models in video games, but it at least feels predictable and avoids the flaw found elsewhere of excessive understeer.
Another thing that will give you confidence in what you’re doing is the Motorbike Status Check (MSC). This can be triggered at almost any time, freezing the game, sweeping the camera around to a side-on view and letting you dive in to check every aspect of your bike’s racing condition on the fly. You can see the tyre consumption, configure the electronic assists and more. It’s great to be able to confirm that yes, you’re feeling the rear wheel starting to slip a bit more because you’re a good few laps into a stint, or just try to learn how the different parts of your bike are interacting. It’s a feature that will evolve as you upgrade the three skill trees in your garage.
Back at base after a race, you’ll likely want to give your bike a once over, look at if there’s enough wear on any individual components to need changing out, and check if your winnings allow you to afford some of the 500 branded parts in the game. The stock bike might already be incredible, but after market parts can improve the stats, affecting the physics of the bike and having a knock-on effect on other components through the bike.
And this is where things get a little bit odd. You see, when you’re fixing up your bike with replacement parts or upgrades, and even when you pull in for a pit stop, you have quick-time events. Yes, the once-maligned QTE is alive and well in a racing game.
These are actually surprisingly in-depth. A pit stop has you remove the wheel nuts, pull the wheel off, put the new wheel on and then secure it, before the fuel man leans in and you time the button press for him to back off just as you’re finished fuelling. It goes beyond that when you’re swapping out parts on a bike. If you want to replace the brake pads, then out they come with the callipers; you have to remove them from the callipers, put them back in and then put the callipers back on the bike as well. There are 45 interconnected parts on the bike, right down to the fluid in your brakes and the brake lever you pull.
It’s pretty wild to find something quite like this in a video game, injecting a kind of the Bike Mechanic Simulator vibe into the game. It’s also quite time-consuming. I get what Raceward are getting at, as they try to give you the feeling that this is a true recreation of a real bike, letting you see how all of the different elements connect up, but it’s such an odd system, and one that I’m sure will feel tiresome after the third or fourth brake disc change.
Throughout he career you have a mixture of different events. Early on you’ll have a string of Academy events, which give you some simple challenges in different scenarios – sadly, this does not mimic Gran Turismo’s licenses, and instead boils down to broader things like racing in rain or how false starts work. There’s also Brand Events which will reward you with new components, manufacturer events that give you a stock bike from a different manufacturer, Face-Off events against another rider, and (of course) various different cups and championships.
There’s a good mixture of tracks, with nine notable real world circuits from Zolder to Suzuka, and five lengthy point-to-point races along real roadways, like the Great Victoria Desert Road and the Million Dollar Highway.
All in all, RiMS Racing is a fascinating take on the bike racing genre. It shoots for the very top of the motorbike spectrum, building an interesting and thoroughly unusual career and progression system around the notion of owning and gradually upgrading your bike to be the very best. I just hope that Raceward can streamline the bike upgrading between now and launch.
It aims to do something very different to engage with motorcycle enthusiasts, and extends to giving everyone with a half-decent PC the opportunity to try the game out through the Steam Next Fest. From tomorrow, 16th June, through to the 22nd June, you’ll be able to download a time limited demo of RiMS Racing and check it out for yourself. Hurrah for demos!