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Ridge Racer Unbounded Review
The Bugbear Entertainment-developed Ridge Racer Unbounded takes the classic arcade racing series in a more “extreme” direction, breathing new life into a very familiar franchise.
(4 out of 5)
- Extremely fun, fast-paced arcade action
- Intense multiplayer sessions
- Excellent car selection
- Fast, but not overwhelming, sense of speed.
- Extremely hard to maintain a lead versus the computer AI
- You can’t publish a created city until you create tracks for all events.
The Ridge Racer series may not carry Gran Turismo (check price) or Forza Motorsport’s (check price) swagger, but the long-running franchise has a dedicated fan base that loves the drift-centric racing action. The latest series entry (developed by Bugbear Entertainment, which developed the FlatOut stunt-racing series), attempts to bring a new chaotic element to the familiar gameplay by adding environmental and vehicular destruction as players race for street cred in the fictional Shatter Bay. The story is something you can flat out ignore—it’s a racing game, after all—but the driving action is interesting and varied. Just play against human opponents if you wish to maintain your sanity. I reviewed the $49.99 PC version; Ridge Racer Unbounded (check price) is also available on the PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms for the same price.
I Can’t Drive 55
Ridge Racer Unbounded has a great sense of speed. Some games, such as those in the Burnout franchise, almost move too quickly, which results in drivers too often overshooting targets or smashing into walls. I always felt in full control here. That said, you will likely have great difficulty competing with the enemy AI, which manages to drive near-flawlessly. This intensifies each mistake you make, and adds unneeded stress to the game, detracting somewhat from the fun.
Ridge Racer Unbounded features a varied car selection that ranges from ultra-sleek sports cars to powerful vintage muscle cars, each with different speed, acceleration, handling, strength, and drifting capabilities. These cars are , of course, unlicensed as they get absolutely wrecked as you bulldoze your way through the city—vehicle manufacturers aren’t too keen on seeing their luxury rides decimated in video game form.
The cars are gorgeous, as are the dense urban environments in which they race. Shatter Bay’s many districts are high-detailed and destructible locations (with some beautiful lighting effects) that just entice you to race one more match. When you fire up Ridge Racer Unbounded, you can only select one car and race district, but others are unlocked as you accumulate collateral damage points. These points are gathered by plowing through anything other than a solid brick wall.
There are, however, a few highlighted structures that you wouldn’t normally plow through—such as the aforementioned brick walls—until you build your Power meter, which acts as a speed boost (with cool accompanying light trails). Not only can you do big damage to the environment (and score big points) by blazing through stores to reveal alternate routes or ramps, but you can also knock other cars off the road in dramatic fashion (“frags”), Burnout style. Frags—along with catching big air (sometimes off rooftops!) and destroying structures—give you additional Power meter points.
Who’s Going To Drive You Home?
City Creator, a new feature to the series, lets players design, and name tracks. An easy-to-use in-game tool lets you drop track sections on a grid, and then populate the track with ramps, sand traps, and other obstacles. I encountered some truly creative tracks, especially Hellbent666, which had ramps and obstacles everywhere—as well as many an explosion opportunity.
A number of options let you select the race style (Frag Attack, Domination, and more), the time of day, number of cars, vehicle class, and more. After creating your city, you can share online. The one downside here is that you can’t upload a track until you’ve built six racing events within your city. That was a bummer.
An Interstate Love Song
Ridge Racer Unbounded is a new direction for the franchise—one that is much welcomed. It may obviously crib from other successful games, but it’s fast, controls well, and features fun environmental destruction. If you’ve steered away from Ridge Racer in the past, give Unbounded a spin.
By Jeffrey L. Wilson, PCMag