1 comment

Ridge Racer Unbounded Preview

by on March 12, 2012

Ridge-Racer-Unbounded-PreviewNamco Bandai are in a strange spot with Ridge Racer at the moment. If they were to release another game in the same vein as the previous Ridge Racer titles, they would more than likely get complained at by fans for lack of innovation. It’s also a risk to release something that veers too far from the franchise that the fans know and love; they are in a tricky spot indeed.

Helsinki based team Bugbear Entertainment have previous knowledge of racing games, with the likes of the Flatout series. They’ve shown a penchant for destruction and chaos in their racers, which has most definitely seeped into the Ridge Racer series, with Unbounded.

Shatter Bay is the setting, an area that you’ll be smashing to bits in no time. Vibrant neon racing lights litter the courses as you tear around them in the different game modes, which – thankfully – are all fun.

Starting with simple Domination Race mode and, let’s get this out of the way right up front, Unbounded is very much derivative of the Burnout series of old…in a good way! Even down to the slow motion crash camera cutaway. In Domination Race mode you’ll be speeding around trying to overtake your opponents and smash them to pieces with the destructive power meter that is built up through performing drifts. Using the power meter you can also smash through various buildings and other obstacles to open up shortcuts and get the jump on your opponents. You can get your power meter up quicker by collecting awards. For example, get a certain amount of airtime and you’ll unlock the corresponding award.

Drift Attack is exactly as you’d imagine. The other vehicles are removed from the course and you are tasked with scoring points through drifting. As with all modes, there are three standards of placing awarded, each more tricky than the other.

Shindo Racing is similar to the Domination Race mode, but the power meter is replaced with a boost meter (that is collected in the same way; drifting). If you’re not a fan of destroying other racers and want a tighter, more tense race, then Shindo Racing might be the one for you, as the destructible areas that reveal shortcuts aren’t a factor here.

Time Attack is yet another mode, split into two types. In one you’ll simply have to escape from the police, which is exactly as you’d imagine it. Stunt tracks however, are something entirely different. At times during a stunt track, you’ll forget you are playing a racing game and think you are playing SSX or one of the Tony Hawk series of games. Going up what is akin to a half pipe because you misjudged a corner, and flying into the air wondering if you’ll land safely, all while losing valuable seconds, is ridiculous, yet hilarious, fun. The tracks themselves are variations on the main race tracks, but with a plethora of stunts thrown in; ramps, jumps etc. On top of that you can collect blue “RR” coins which give you a time extension. It’s crazy, it’s ludicrous, it’s nothing like Ridge Racer to date.

Finally you can experience the frag attacks, again the Burnout comparison must be raised. In this mode you’ll have to take out as many opponents as possible, using whichever vehicle the game gives you, in a set time limit.

All of these events are unlocked through obvious progression. As you score higher in each individual event, you’ll rank up your “Member” level, which in turn unlocks more vehicles, more events (there’s plenty of them too!) and more tools to build your own tracks with.

The cars themselves have plenty of variation, with different classes available that are tuned specifically for different event types. Speaking of the cars, they handle (mostly) like a Ridge Racer game. There are very few buttons actually used in the game, aside from the triggers to accelerate or decelerate, you literally have to hold the B (Xbox 360) or Circle (PS3) button to drift, and tap the A (360) or X (PS3) to use your boost. It plays very well indeed and is simple to pick up and get cracking straight away.

Aside from the racing itself, you can create your own cities, which are made up of one to five events. Even though there appears to be plenty of content on offer in the single player, with the multiplayer options (quick match, domination match and friend match, not to mention the challenges mode which picks up created races from other users), you can create your own races too.

Ridge Racer Unbounded is shaping up to be a very interesting racer. Sure, it’s derivative, but what isn’t these days? Namco Bandai and Bugbear have taken a real chance here with Unbounded, and it’s shaping up to be a rather exciting title. If it gets the support from the community and the creation tools are used as we know they can be, it could have a serious shelf life and keep people playing for quite some time.

Ridge Racer Unbounded is set for a March 30th release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.