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Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer

Man, Ridge Racer looks freaking amazing…

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let me actually try to get started with this review. See, I’ve been trying to write this for a couple of days, but I keep getting overwhelmed with the fact that Ridge Racer looks so great. But here I go, talking about how pretty the game is, and not about the other important aspects of it…

…So, without further ado, I bring to you, my Ridge Racer review…

Ridge Racer is an arcade-style racing game, so it’s right up my alley. I’ll admit that I cannot play Gran Turismo. I just can’t appreciate the series. I like arcade racing games, where nitrous shoots out your exhaust pipes. I find that much more satisfying. And I don’t like to have to break to go around corners either. I like ripping around them at one hundred and fifty miles an hour. Ridge Racer is the game that lets me do that. There’s no fancy engine work to be done here; cars have top speeds and drift differently and these are the only things you need to be concerned with.

Ridge Racer features about two-dozen different tracks, including fan favorites from previous games as well as new ones. I really liked the selection of the tracks. Each one was completely designed to work with the game perfectly. Every corner provides an opportunity to drift around it, and there are lots of straight segments to build up your top speed. Drifting around corners builds up your nitrous gauge, which is an all-new addition to the series. The nitrous is very nicely implemented into the game, though I would have liked to see more instances where the nitrous can build up, like we saw with Burnout 3. Sometimes your car will get airborne or you’ll pass a car really closely, and I think in these instances filling up some of the nitrous would have been appropriate.

To go along with the nitrous, there are almost as many cars than there are tracks in the game. Each car has slightly different capabilities, and each race practically requires that you pick the right one. Some drift more easily than others, which may seem like a good thing but on a track with lots of short, sharp turns, you really don’t want to be sliding all over the place, so a car with less tendency to drift and a lower speed might be a good choice. All the cars come with the option of either automatic or manual transmissions, and thanks to the PSP’s great D-Pad and analog nub, you can get complete control of your vehicles.

Most of your time with Ridge Racer will be spent in its “World Tour” mode. Here, you’ll race tour after tour after tour, with each tour presenting new challenges. They’re graded based on difficulty, and your reward for finishing one tour is a new car, new tracks, and another tour to conquer. You can easily spend 15-25 hours in this mode alone, and if you try to get first place in every race, you’ll be spending probably another 5-10 hours.

In Ridge Racer, you don’t earn your pole position like you do in Gran Turismo. Instead, you always start in dead last and have to fight your way to get into first. In the beginning, this isn’t a problem at all, but towards the later tours, you’re really going to have to fight your way just into fifth and fourth places. This formula holds steady throughout the entire game, so some people might be a little peeved at it. Even if you get first in the last race, you still have to work your way up from dead last. It’s a little irritating at times, but it fits the arcade style of the game.

One of the best features in Ridge Racer is the fact that you can play the game wirelessly against anyone. One of my buddies and I put it to the test. I sat in the backroom of my store, which is adjacent to the food court, and he sat in the food court. After one failed connection, we were able to play without any interruption. My friend moved around, walked back and forth from the food court, into the store right next to me, and then back out onto the floor with no stutter or lag. It was impressive to say the least.

While the wireless feature is one of the best things in Ridge Racer, the very best feature of Ridge Racer comes in the form of its gorgeous graphics engine. I’ve played several PSP games and none of the games are nearly as vibrant as this one. Crisp, vibrant scenery compliments an impressive draw distance which compliments great car models which compliments remarkable after-race replays which compliments…you get the idea I bet. During one race, as I turned a corner, I noticed a giant airplane cursing along overhead. I thought that was pretty cool, and unnecessary, which made it even cooler. Because of the game’s speed, there’s a bit of blurring caused by the PSP’s screen, but it’s not all that noticeable. A collection of peppy racing tunes keeps your ears entertained during the whole racing experience and drowns out a slightly annoying announcer.

At the end of the day, Ridge Racer is not only a great PSP launch game, but a great game in general. The most major problem is not anything with the game, but that it sucks up your battery life faster than anything else on the system. Expect about a 3 hour charge playing Ridge Racer. But, it certainly can stand its own against its console counterparts, so I guess this is a trade-off you have to make. If you’re the proud owner of Sony’s awesome new handheld, you can’t afford not to pick up this entertaining racer from Namco. If you’re not yet the owner of Sony’s awesome handheld, then this is a game worth buying one for.

And man, Ridge Racer looks freaking amazing.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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