Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ridge Racer Unbounded Review

The Ridge Racer series had started getting a bit stale and was at risk of going from being an elite franchise to just another racing game. It was a series that was stuck between two genres and wasn't sure whether it wanted to be a simulation or arcade racer. The only franchise which does this successfully is Need for Speed and that is because they simultaneously rotate between the two genres. Ridge Racer Unbounded is a complete reboot of the series and a decision to take the arcade route has turned out to be successful. Huge, fast paced and ultra destructibility are the slogans that pulsate out of this game louder than the dubstep in the game itself. This is one crazy ride that is an absolute blast to play. It is so good to see a game that completely disregards rules and creates one of the most exhilarating racing games going around this generation.


A game that wants everything to explode is going to make sure that it looks good doing so. This means that explosions and the physics of absolutely everything in the game have to be spot on otherwise it will turn into a glitchy mess. Luckily, this game is a perfect example of how to deliver an arcade racer with a brilliant sense of speed and exciting explosions that never stop being awesome even after you drive through your 1000th concrete support. As you smash through destructible environments they shatter at your touch and exploding items such as buildings and tankers provide a slow motion look at the event. Seeing flames and an almighty amount of damage in your wake as you fly through these items is a magical experience I haven’t truly seen since Burnout Revenge. Destroying things is damn awesome and Ridge Racer Unbounded encourages this exact concept.

Destruction aside, the racing is top notch in this title and handles perfectly. Your cars have deadly speed and this is conveyed to the gamer. Drifting around corners and utilizing the turbo button on your car will blur the screen to recreate the scene you would imagine experiencing at those speeds in real life. Cars handle well and all look brilliant. Flashes and lights from the environment pulsate off the car and it reacts accordingly to the environment it is in. Interactions between your car and others are perfect. Fragging an opponent and seeing them burn out and crash into objects at slow motion is so cool and even though you have the option to fast forward through it, you definitely won’t want to. Shatter Bay is a city that is made up of multiple districts that each have their own distinct feel. After a while you will see similarities between the areas and little difference between the different races in the same area, it is something that barely detracts from the awesome action on track.

 Explosive power and devastating damage needs to be complimented by a rocking soundtrack and some intense sound effects to deliver the power of the blows in the game. Running into the destructible items will deliver a resounding boom as you smash and crash your way through the course. Cars are loud and sound fast as they screech their way around the track at breakneck speeds. The musical score in Ridge Racer definitely matches the extreme mayhem shown during the game. A large range of dubstep tracks ranging from Skrillex to lesser known songs that constantly drop the bass and deliver pulsating beats is a superb way. Cranking up the sound system while playing Ridge Racer Unbounded will aid the experience and will pump you up for the excitement ahead.


Utter chaos and destruction has been missing for far too long. So many arcade games have too many consequences for making a mistake. Ridge Racer has that perfect edge of challenge and forgiveness, allowing you to have fun and not worry about having an absolutely perfect drive. That is exactly what Shatter Bay is all about, a city designed with destruction and great racing lines in mind. The tracks are all simple loops which can be created by gamers, but simplicity is sometimes best and seems to be what makes this game so much fun to play.

There are multiple racing modes that you will take on in the main career mode. The mode is fairly barebones in terms of story and you merely unlock more tracks and locations the further you progress. To start with I didn't like the fact that you got straight into the action, but I suppose if you aren't going to do a story properly then its best not to do one at all. This approach could've come in handy for some other recent racing titles. The game modes consist of domination (the main mode) as well as drift attack where you score points by drifting, time attack where you race the clock and shino racing which removes all destruction between the actual racers. These modes are no where near as good as domination and merely just mix up the action occasionally.

Domination is the heart and soul of Ridge Racer and incorporates every component of the game into a few laps of intense mayhem. By drifting and following competitors you earn boost which can be used to frag opponents which is essentially wrecking them. You and everyone else in the race is doing this, as well as utilising this boost to wreck other objects in the race to gain an advantage and attempt to come first. It is fun and relies on an equal strategy of racing for position and racing to destroy in order to place as high as possible. Avoiding racers will only get you fragged from behind but aiming for too many racers may have you forever behind the eight ball.

Apart from racing, another big part of the game is online which encompasses both normal multiplayer and the cool creation mode. You can create cities and tracks using an in-game track editor. It starts basic with straight or bends in the road but then by going into the tracks you can add as little or as many items as you want onto the tracks. These items are everything you see in the game ranging from ramps and non-destructible items to tankers and barriers that will shatter at your touch. This adds an incredible amount of life to the game as you can create and share your creations as well as playing others just from a simple search or jumping straight into a highlighted city. Adding this to the game was an excellent choice for me and extends this game past the single player routes as standard multiplayer probably would've failed compared to the many higher profile targets on the market.


I went in expecting 'just another racer' and left with a lot of respect for the new model of Ridge Racer. This is a superb game that reminds me of Burnout Revenge, a game I still consider one of the best games I've ever played. High octane adrenalin racing mixed with complete and utter destruction is a formula that has worked extremely well. The career mode is fairly straightforward but the creation kit gives this game simply unlimited content. Those who are after a true arcade racer will be excited by the package here and I can't give enough praise for the solid experience I received during my time with the game.

Graphics - 8.5/10 
Sound - 9/10 
Gameplay - 8.5/10 
Overall - 8.5/10