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Ridge Racer: Unbounded Preview

by Diogo Miguel March 12, 2012

Ask anyone what they think of Ridge Race and it will probably involve crazy drifting stunts and rather difficult driving controls. Ridge Racer has always proved popular but times change and these days players are more into driving video-games like Forza Motorsport. Long lasting video-games need to be revitalised, so that might be why Namco Bandai let Bugbear Entertainment, develop a new Ridge Race.

This new entry in Ridge Racer simply titled Ridge Racer Unbounded sees the video-game take on a whole new direction. No longer is is the racing restricted to a single route. Instead it’s possible to take advantage of the urban setting to uncover multiple paths in each of races. The game itself is set in the metropolis that is Shatter Bay. This city is designed so that players can make the most of what the game has to offer. Wide street blocks and tight corners are the perfect conditions for drifting.

Drifting is one of Ridge Racer’s widely known features and it’s been given an overhaul so that it can help players. A meter bar will fill up whenever the player is drifting or performs a stunt and it’s possible to unleash a devastating power once it’s full. This power enables a car to literally rip opponent cars to shreds and even create makeshift short cuts, by ploughing through environmental pieces. There are plenty of short cuts to find but only those that use the power efficiently will use them. Drifting is tricky business though and requires careful use as it’s very easy to lose control of the vehicle.

With the power feature Bugbear Entertainment is able to transform Ridge Racer Unbounded into a whole new driving experience. It’s difficult to not compare it to a similar driving video-game, that also focuses on destruction, but it’s not entirely true. Activating the power will certainly result in high levels of destruction, but it’s done in a certain manner, so that it doesn’t lose focus on the racing aspect. Time slows down when a section of a track or another vehicle is destroyed, which gives the player plenty of time to appreciate the carnage.

It’s possible to skip this which is handy as it would get dull after a couple of crashes. Ironically this same process applies to when then player’s vehicle crashes, which is a handy as it makes it easier to get back to the race. What’s so great about it is how seamless the transition is between the destruction phase and getting back to racing. This means that even less experienced players not used to the genre have a fair chance of going up against fans.

Shatter Bay is split up into districts like every major city would and each has challenges to tackle. Challenges range from simple races to less traditional challenges, such as one that involves ramming police cars with a giant truck. There’s certainly no lack of variety when it comes to the challenges that players need to tackle. Meeting the goals for each challenge will earn players stars. Earning stars means increasing the district score which is the key to unlocking other challenges. It’s a simple concept but one that is bound to tempt players to try and come back to challenges, in order to get three stars for each of them.

Those inclined to do so can take the game online where a wide range of modes is available. The more traditional online race mode is one of the highlights. It’s possible to activate all offline actions during online races such as using the destructive power.

But strangely enough, it’s not the case that it makes the racing unfair, since using the power is useful for players behind to catch up. Surprisingly enough the game has a feature to create tracks and even sharing them with the world. It’s a feature that should prove popular once the game is released, since it makes it possible to find new challenges online at any time.

It’s not a racing video-game without various shiny new cars to play with. Fortunately Ridge Racer Unbounded has plenty of vehicles of all sizes. Most of them are locked but it only adds to the temptation of trying to do well in challenges to unlock better vehicles and other extras.

The fact that the game even has massive trucks shows the level of commitment in ensuring there won’t be a dull moment in Shatter Bay. The proverbial cherry on top of the cake is the soundtrack that is heard during races. An eclectic music selection that fits the urban setting for the game which makes each race even more exciting.

Ridge Racer Unbounded is definitely not the average racing video-game. It’s not the typical Ridge Racer experience either but it does wonders for reviving the well known video-game series. Namco Bandai took a risk in handing over its beloved Ridge Racer to an external developer but it looks like it is worth it. Ridge Racer Unbounded is definitely a title that any fans of the genre should pay attention to over the next few weeks leading up to launch.

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