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April 15, 2007
Ridge Racer 7 - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Ridge Racer 7 looks impressive.
At each of Sony's three previous console launches Namco has delivered a new Ridge Racer title, and the same is true of Sony's latest console, the Playstation 3. Ridge Racer 7 is that game and it delivers everything we've come to expect of the series and then some. It's fast, frantic and still very much arcade based - just the way we want it.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last decade you would probably be aware that Ridge Racer is a racing series. While it doesn't feature real cars, nor real tracks, this gives the developers the opportunity to up the 'fun' factor to extreme levels. Tracks are full of twists and turns perfectly balanced to test your drifting skills to the limit. Indeed the game includes 40 cars to unlock, as well as 22 courses - which is doubled to 44 if you include racing them in reverse. Each of the cars can be customised and tuned to your liking with hundreds of parts such as spoilers, wheels, paintjobs and decals giving over 375,000 possible visual customisations, and with nitros, engine tuning and plug-ins, 7150 tuning modifications.

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Note the blurring at speed.
As we previously mentioned one big facet of Ridge Racer 7 is the ability to drift the cars around the corners. Actually it's not just an ability, but a necessity. Drifting is performed by taking the foot off the accelerator, turning into the corner, and then flooring it again. As you do this the nitros gauge fills up. This gauge is filled to three different levels, each giving you longer boost. By hitting R2 you use 1/3 of your boost, L2 uses 2/3 and both together allows you to use the entire full tank should you have it. What's more. By using nitros when going around corners you then refill the tank at an even more rapid rate. It's easy to learn, but will take considerable time to master.

Ridge Racer 7's difficulty curve is very good too. The first couple of tracks are rather gentle with only a couple of large corners to drift around and plenty of straights to use your nitros. As the game progresses though the tracks get more complicated, the number of corners increases to almost permanent corners around the entire course and nitros have to be used while going around corners.

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Now that's a mixture of cars!
In terms of the game modes Ridge Racer 7 includes typical modes such as Time Attack and Arcade (which includes 2-player split-screen) but more importantly also introduces a career styled mode called Ridge State Grand-Prix which consists of around 160 races overall. This mode includes test drives for manufacturers, time trials, races and online rankings. You could literally spend weeks in this mode unlocking and upgrading everything on offer. The game also keeps a massive number of stats including credits earned, distance traveled, and online rankings to name just a few. In fact there's more stats and online rankings in this game then in pretty much any other game on the market.

One of the areas of the PS3 that has impressed us is the amount of online gameplay and content going into many of the games. Sure, there have been the odd exception where online gameplay hasn't made it (see Tony Hawk's Project 8 for one), but for the most part the launch titles can have you playing online for days on end - and Ridge Racer 7 is one such title. With support for up to 14-players the races have an international feel as each competitor has listed their country of origin. Most importantly the gameplay is fluid at all times with lag only occurring on those with slow net connections. Namco have also included Global Rankings for the game and, through the Playstation Store, new skins for your cars. In Japan there is also new music which can be purchased online and added into the game - but this is yet to appear in America, Europe or Australia.

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Yet another stunning in-game screen.
I guess the biggest problem with this title will be for gamers that own an XBox 360 and Ridge Racer 6. The titles are very similar in terms of tracks, cars, game modes and overall content and justifying spending an additional $120 for such a similar game is hard to swallow (one big difference though is 1080p support on the PS3). Another disappointment I have with the game is that there simply isn't any realism in the collisions. You can slam into another car, or even a wall, and simply bounce off with only a slight loss of speed. There are no spectacular Burnout styled collisions and destruction in this game which is a bit disappointing - I would have hoped that Namco would at least try for some improved collisions and/or damage in the series by now.

Running at 60fps at 1080p resolution this game is a showcase title for the Playstation 3. Sure the textures and detail is lacking in some sections of track or on the cars, but everything is so damn fast you won't have time to notice. I'm still not convinced that the blurring effect which seems to tear the image giving it a very streaky look. When you're playing the game you don't really notice, but when you're watching it's quite apparent and doesn't look too hot. Unfortunately the graphics do take quite a hit in 2-player split screen mode where the textures are reduced and the game loses a bit of overall sheen with a drop in frame rate.

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Car design is quite varied.
One area where the series is almost universally bagged is with regards to the music. But you know what, this game actually provides some pretty awesome beats to race around to. So much so that I would say the music in this game (as long as you like dance/beats) is the best in the series by a long shot. The announcers have also been reworked and are now much easier on the ears then previous games where they became irritating rather quickly.

As long as you approach this game realising that it is still truly an arcade based racer and not a realistic simulation then you'll have a fantastic time. It's pretty tough in some of the later single player races, but comes into its own when you're racing online against gamers from around the world. Ridge Racer 7 is certainly one of the best titles at the PS3 launch. A blast from start to finish.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSSome of the best graphics on PS3. 1080p, 60fps and blistering fast.
SOUNDPlenty of upbeat tunes to keep it pumping, solid effects and surround.
GAMEPLAYPurely arcade based, and pure fun from start to finish both online and offline. Massive amounts of stats tracked.
VALUEA massive single player game and then you can spend ages racing online. One of the best games, and one of the cheapest prices.
OVERALLRidge Racer 7 is certainly one of the best PS3 launch titles. It shows off the power of the PS3 but most importantly is tremendous fun from start to finish. Buy it.

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