For: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment
Publisher: Namco Bandai
What’s it all about? Bringing the Ridge Racer franchise into line with the rest of the driving game community; most notably the more explosive and more arcade with Burnout Paradise and Split/Second Velocity springing immediately to mind.
From the demo we’ve seen expect plenty of takedowns, shortcuts through bizarrely collapsible buildings (complete with Matrix-style slowdown) and the kind of corner drifting that even Fred Flintstone would be proud of.
To keep the action flowing track obstacles are less than real in their mass too, take the support columns of elevated highways for example, which can be smashed through with gay abandon at the cost of some superficial paint work to your Lotus, Ferrari and so on. Which brings me to a positive, they do seem to have crammed a reasonable array of real life cars in (but then that seems to be the norm these days).
The Bugbear spokesman promised plenty of track variation – something similar to how Motorstorm Apocalypse’s tracks organically change as buildings are levelled, etc. Though in the demo on show in not quite as smooth a fashion. There was also talk of ’1000s of cities’ being available to race through; when asked to clarify there was scant information other than the fact it would be ‘difficult for one team to do over a 1000 cities’ so expect there to be some kind of track editor when the game launches.
Of further interest was the power bar which once charged can be unleashed to either trigger the aforementioned shortcuts or else used to instantly takedown your opponent. It would seem then an online deathmatch mode is inevitable along with the racing genre’s mainstays during multiplayer.
Graphically the game at least shimmers with a polish expected of the finest in the genre, though appeared if anything it’s all a little too glossy – hyper real rather than merely ‘real’; again a nod to the fact Unbounded is going for the throats of Split/Second and Burnout rather than the likes of a Gran Turismo 5 or a Forza 4.
Worth the wait? You can’t particularly blame Bugbear for taking Ridge Racer the way of Burnout; the original Ridge Racers did of course take Outrun’s relentless powerslides and take them to whole new heights of physics-defying madness so it isn’t like the series doesn’t have form for being arcade racer rather than accurate driving sim.
At the same time there was nothing on show in the demo to particularly produce an ‘ooh’ or an ‘arr’ but rather more of an ‘is that it’ kind of response. There’s still a long way to go until release however, and lots more time for the developers to change our minds, but for now we’re left a might unconvinced by an old dog out to learn new tricks.