Ridge Racer Unbounded Review
Ridge Racer Unbounded is a dramatic departure for the series, but one that's filled with some gloriously destructive, fast-paced racing.
- Well designed tracks that reward destruction
- Satisfying takedown system
- Jumping your car out of exploding buildings
- Community-led online modes that reward creativity.
- Unintuitive track creator
- Cinematic replays come at expense of gameplay.
Ridge Racer Unbounded is, as its name suggests, Ridge Racer without limits. Your cars are no longer simple drifting machines, but tools of destruction, and the fictitious, urban tracks of Shatter Bay are your calamitous playground. Cars leap, streets explode, and buildings crumble, all while your competitors are turned into fiery, slow-motion heaps of wreckage. This is no mere update to the series. It is a declaration of change, one that confidently throws out the tried-and-true but rapidly aging formula of Ridge Racer to create a blend of all-out destruction and high-speed racing that's tremendously exciting, if not entirely original.
It's easy to see where Unbounded's influences lie: the crumbling cityscapes are lifted from MotorStorm: Apocalypse and Split/Second; the slow-motion takedowns are those of Burnout; and the fast-paced multiplayer action is akin to Blur's. But it's thrown together with a great deal of care. Your cars are varied, plentiful, and oh so shiny. You can pick from all manner of machines, some faster and lighter, others stronger and better in the drift. All have a unique look that mimics real-world classics, yet they retain the pseudo-futuristic style that Ridge Racer is famed for.
Their handling is a blend of old and new too. Drifting still plays its part, but gone is the on-rails feel of old, replaced with a much more dynamic and exciting system that rewards careful timing of the hand brake and judicious tweaks of the steering to make it around corners. Overdo the steering, and you slam straight into a wall. Undercook it, and you won't even make it around the bend. Put simply, you can't coast through drifts anymore. This makes them more challenging, but the rewards for such skilful manoeuvres are greater than before.
The boost bar that fills during drifts isn't just for bursts of speed; it's your primary weapon of destruction. Competitors can be turned into twisted heaps of metal with a well-timed boost to the rear, resulting in spectacular--if overly long--slow-motion wipeouts of flame and shrapnel. Buildings that stand in the way of a straight path down the track are ripe for your boosts too, exploding with a vigour that propels you out the other side in a display of broken glass and rubble that would be worthy of any great action movie.
Such displays of destruction are not only a treat for the eyes, but a key to your success. For every car you wreck, building you destroy, or lamppost you topple, there are points to be won. Even if you don't take a podium place during an event--though there is a bonus for doing so--your time on the circuit isn't wasted: the points you earn from destruction go towards increasing your overall racing level, which opens up new districts (tracks) in Shatter Bay, new cars, and new events. They include Domination races that reward destruction, Shindo races that reward pure racing skill, Drift Attacks that reward your ability to go sideways, and Frag Attacks that reward smashing your opponents into a wall.
Districts you unlock give each event a new lease on life, such is their variety. The dusty, crate-filled roads and tight turns of the Docks area soon give way to the towering concrete skyscrapers of the inner city, with drift-friendly roads, explosive trucks, and mesmerizing jumps making them a joy to race through. The outer city brings with it highways and tight tunnels for close-quarters shunting, while the addition of nighttime races adds more beauty to the already finely crafted and detailed tracks. A minimal HUD consisting of just a speedometer ensures you're given an unobstructed view of the city; finer details like position, lap times, and score are cleverly overlaid onto the environment itself.
There's a case to be made for the cleverness of the multiplayer too, which shuns a traditional lobby-based system for something altogether more personal. A track-creation system lets you craft circuit events to place within a city hub of your very own. You can set a score in any of your events and send it out to the world as a challenge, or grab a group of would-be competitors and go head-to-head in action-packed online races. It's a shame the track editor isn't a little easier to use, due to its flaky camera navigation and confusing tools for placing tunnels, but the resulting circuit designs already add a great deal of longevity to a game that has no shortage of tracks right out of the box. That's not to mention the sheer joy of fragging other players just as they're about to reach the finish line in first place, leaving them to wallow in a fiery mess of machine.
And really, that's what Unbounded excels at: balls-to-the wall, explosive action. Truth be told, it's Ridge Racer by name only and a massive departure from previous games in the series. But there's so much to like here, so much joy to be had fragging your opponents, so much creativity to be poured into the track creator, and so much stupid satisfaction to be had from blowing stuff up that you'd be doing yourself a great disservice to dismiss Unbounded just because it doesn't handle like you're used to, or because Reiko isn't there to mentally undress during loading screens. Ridge Racer Unbounded is much more exciting than that, and much more compelling than anything that has come before. There's no point in looking back. Instead, celebrate the fact that you've got a brighter, sleeker, and more explosion-filled Ridge Racer. It's one hell of a ride.
These days racing games are becoming more and more alike. what they need is some new content, and some new elements. Gamers shouldn't blame the developers for trying something new, as long as it's developed good and respectable. The way to progress and change must not butcher the predecessors. That's exactly what Namco did, and some others do not care for. I've got this game and it's one of the best racing games I've ever played. That's that!
@RICHARDuk Eidge Racer Type 4 on PSone got 8.7 score and Ridge Racer 7 got 8 score from gamespot. I don't see any discrimination. The latest Ridge Racer game on PS Vita got bad score since the developers were lazy and there were only 5 vehicles and 3 race tracks while the rest of the content was DLC with price.
This game is so fun and exciting, i can totally see why it got an 8. I think one of the main resons is because it is reviewed on what it is, not what it isnt. Would people feel the same if they had just titled it Unbounded and missed out the Ridge Racer bit? Something to think about.
Let aside all the personal thoughts and feelings, RRU is a great game, just started playing it and i'm loving it, the online multiplayer is sickk!
Sure it looks like a perfectly well-made game, but other than up-to-date graphics, is there any reason I should put aside my copy of Burnout Revenge in favour of this?
kinda looks llike a Burnout for the XBOX360, come to think of it aren't EA goin to make a BURNOUT for the XBOX 360 and PS3???
@gelugon_baat dont worry about me and what i play. This is a platform to air views and share opinions about games we play(not criticize peoples opinions), as i did. I had a casual interest in this game..tried it, hated it and came on here to share my view on the gamerscore. That is all.
@RICHARDuk, Ridge Racer games usually do well critically. Check some of GameSpot's old reviews. Ridge Racer Revolution, Ridge Racer DS and Ridge Racer on the Vita are the only ones that were panned.
Hmmm... I liked the futuristic and minimalistic style of the Ridge Racer Series (also the tecno music is awesome). Namco seems to be aiming for more gritty realism than of old - sure RR was getting a little predictable - but sure I never wanted for RR to become another Burnout clone type 'reboot' - needs a proper sequel to the series imo...
Funny When Ridge Racer was only on a sony platform it always got low scores now its on xbox the score goes up. Funny that gamespot ?
Looks like we have the "true" Flatout 3 now. I'll be picking this up for sure. *ignores ridge racer name*
I've never seen so much hate in the comments from people who've barely played the game themselves...
Just been playing it, and it's fun - the fact that it's not a Ridge racer game is a non-issue with me. I'm going to take slight issue with the review calling the cinematic crashes a minus point when they can be both turned off, or skipped while racing - unless the review build was different?
Saying this is not Ridge Racer is saying NFS Shift isn't NFS. OF COURSE THEY ARE NOT, lol, but that's why they have a subtitle.
@Gelugon_baat So everyone is a b@tch because you dont agree with them, i have played the game and i was giving a seemingly popular opinion. Just sick of these companies releasing sequel after sequel with nothing significantly better to offer.
Where is the "lack of splitscreen" in the cons?! It's a racing game d*mmmmit! It's a really annoying trend that companies don't make splitscreen for racing/sport games anymore :S
Ok it is a good game it deserves 8.0 and all that. But it is not a Ridge Racer. I will be waiting for a real Ridge Racer to come around.
gamespot..can you please clarify the release date on this game?..GAMEFLY says it was suppose to ship on march 30th but now it move back to april 3..i put in over 700 hours in burnout paradise and i need to play this game now!! :)
This game looks pretty good. Ridge Racer fans will hate it because it's basically Burnout, but IDGAF.
I'm not that interested in giving my money to Namco Bandai... An this put my thoughts to rest, that's no longer Ridge Racer, it's a new IP burnout-like using RR name.