Ridge Racer Unbounded review (Xbox 360)

Ridge Racer has finally stepped out of its comfort zone and taken racing to the inner city. Obliterating your environments or opponents and still making podium, proves to be a Sisyphean task.

Heart-stopping moments, clammy hands and unblinking eyes are indications of the fast-paced-non-stop action Unbounded has in store for you. But does Ridge Racer Unbounded have what it takes to “pip” the competition?

Visuals

Based on past Ridge Racer titles, I have come to expect “not-so-great” visuals – but this time I was wrong. The graphics in Unbounded are on par with the offerings on the market today. Impressive graphics added to the excitement, leaving me visually satisfied with the climatic sequences of exploding debris and slow-mo shots.

Sound

The cars sound great – raw, loud and aggressive. Adding to the arcade feel of the game is an extensive track listing of “electro-styled-dubstep-ish” music to enhance the already fast paced action.

Ridge Racer Unbounded

Gameplay

Taking to the city streets, racers need to podium finish on a selection of district-based events comprising of various domination, drifting and time attack challenges. Rewards come in the form of road menace points and XP redeemable for unlockable content such as new events, locations and vehicles.

In-race incentives are added as well. Drifting around corners or doing massive jumps will have your power meter filled up in no time. Your power meter can then be used to frag (annihilate) opponents, destroy walls to reveal time saving short-cuts or power-boost to make up valuable race position.

Another exciting new feature is a track editor, where gamers can create elaborate new tracks. These new tracks are easy to create and share online where challenges can be made online via “Dominate The World”.

There were problems that crept in at the beginning of the game, such as the difficulty in the novice stages. The races seemed overly challenging from the get-go, often requiring 3-5 attempts at the same race to make podium. Once you get the “nack” of correctly timing your power-ups, and with a blessing from Lady Luck, the challenge can be a easily conquered.

There are vast numbers of cars with race specific handling; some quick and light and others heavy and strong – even trucks make their debut. The various car’s handling characteristics feel weighted and solid but at times the physics – especially when in the air or cornering – seem unrealistic.

Another frustrating issue is the lack of AI in your opponents; crashing into their sides feels as if they are unmovable and rubber banding rears its head, with opponents quickly catching up to you no matter how far behind you left them.

Conclusion

Great appreciation must be afforded to Namco Bandai Games, a publisher that has enthused racing fans for almost two decades. If you ever played racing games in an arcade, chances are that you played Ridge Racer.

Having a strong gaming pedigree, Namco Bandai Games and Bugbear Entertainment have taken a massive risk and based their new racing model on the popular “car combat” and “environment destruction” mechanics seen in titles such as Split/Second Velocity, Burn-Out and Blur.

On completion of various racing challenges, I found the game to be lacking in innovation. In this genre, to stay ahead a developer has to have a “game changer” but sadly this comes across as a copy-and-paste job. Whilst exciting, everything seems far too familiar and aged.

Unfortunately the overall game is sub par. There are enjoyable highlights, but sadly that isn’t enough to compete in the current arcade racing climate.

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Ridge Racer Unbounded review (Xbox 360)

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