Review: Ridge Racer Unbounded
The new Ridge Racer is upon us. The game may have the Ridge Racer Branding, it is a profound clash from the series in this 8th entry. While the game in itself is a great and fun racer, it could have been equally called BurnOut Revengeance or Split / Second / S-treme, as it share it’s root in that kind of explosive and over the top gameplay, more than in the Ridge Racer Series.
For Namco this change marks the end of an era, and the beginning of a new. Gone are Reiko, the curvaceous model of the series since it’s debut. Gone too the stylized cars models with the tag and decal of Pac-Man, Klonoa, Xevious and other appraised games of the past. Also gone the colorful landscape and scenic drives.
For this iteration Namco chose, like many Japanese developers these days, to license the franchise to an external studio. In this case the BugBear Studio, who offered us the excellent FlatOut 2 on the PS2. BugBear isn’t at it’s first foray into racing games, and it shows immediately when you boot Ridge Racer Unbounded.
The game is pretty slick looking, with great graphics and lightning. It’s amazing to see the numerous lens flare and sparks as you drive by the neon filled cityscape. Granted, the game is not as colorful as past Ridge Racer Games. In fact, the wondrous landscape and scenic drive we’re replaced here by a Gritty Grey looking Metropolis by the name of Shatter Bay. The City reminds us in essence of the streets, highways and landmarks of New-York. It even has a Central Park like area to drive through.
And the driving mechanics is all it is about in a racing game. On that aspect, RRU is top on focus. The cars feel powerful and the game has a great sense of speed. It’s now much more fluid, and you have all means to snake in and out, around obstacles, at blazing speed. Finished with the stiffness of the past entry, we get a more swift and subtle control, that is a blast to play with.
Drifting is still the mark of the serie, but in this game it was completely spinned upside down, to give a complete new feel to it. The action revolves around building up a gauge of Boost and Ravaging Power. To do so you need to drift swiftly around the corner or draft behind other racers. When you get a full gauge, the real fun begins. See, the gauge isn’t just a mean of getting faster, it can do more important feats that are as wondrous as they are explosive.
For first, you can rampage in other racers making them explode in a wrath of flames, metal junk and shame reminiscent of BurnOut Revenge. Even more extreme, you can keep your boost to plow through some efficiently placed target walls and buildings to open up new shortcuts around the city. A feature that reminds us of Split- Second this time around. Each time you do some explosive actions, you are rewarded with bonus points that counts toward your score for the race, and some more boost to continue to wreck havoc around you.
It is a sight to behold, watching your car crashing in a Fast-food Restaurant or a Bank Wall at full speed, booming through it like it was made of wood. Or lighting in a Fuel Truck seeing it explode in slow motion taking with him the other racer that were too close to get away. But Beware, the opponent A.I. Is as much good at wrecking you, and if you’re not cautious enough you could be the one wrecked of in a wall.
The game has huge gameplay and many modes to play through. The domination Races described above, is the best of it though. Aside you will find Shindo Racing, that is Pure speed races with no explosion whatsoever. Drift Attack, as it’s name describe is just that, racing on the track sideway to make huge drift combos. Frag Attack, reminiscent of BurnOut Road Rage’s.
And finally the Time Attack, in which, the developer decided to make things harder by putting on the road all type of ramps and obstacles to take air or avoid. Problem is, it is not fun and can be a real pain in the exhaust. See, while the car has great control on the road, the fact to make it fly is far more glitchy, and almost always results in a long and painful tumbling. Really, it is no fun at all.
Another feature in the game is the City Builder. And it is exactly what it is. You can make all your dream races and publish them online for all to see and race on. It works great and it is quite easy to come up with an original circuit to play on. You have blocks of road that you put together to make a loop. After that, you can add some static mesh elements such as Fuel Trucks, Dinosaurs, Ramps. It can be great, and there is already quite a good number of cities out there to play on. So it can extend considerably the time you’ll play the game.
That being said, it now brings us to the bad part. Hear me right. I truly had fun within Ridge Racer Unbounded, but I was always thinking that many other games in that style have been better. For example: BurnOut and Split Second. All along, I had the feeling of been there, done that, and way better too! Plus, in the two weeks I played, I never got the chance to race agains’t another racer. There is Online Races support for up to 8 players, but nobody is ever in there to play. That is really sad, and can be a broken deal for many gamers. Plus, there is no Leaderboard Online, so you have no means to compare your score with your playlist friend. After a while you feel like playing alone in a ghost city.
To conclude, I had fun with the new Ridge Racer, but not as much as I wanted to, and not so much as I had with older racers either.
For all these reasons my score for it is: 7.0
Source: Gameplay video by http://www.youtube.com/user/pirat3gamingvids
This Review was originally posted on http://gameflow.eu (TDR Partner) by x8finity