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September 28, 2005
Ridge Racer - Review
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Tunnels are a series feature.
If you own a Sony console you're almost certain to have, at the very least, considered purchasing a Namco Ridge Racer title at some stage. Indeed the game was the first true indication of just how powerful the PSOne was when it released over a decade ago. No one believed a home console could reproduce a massively expensive arcade system, but it did. Then the PS2 was launched and once again Namco graced us with a title in the series with Ridge Racer V. Now the PSP has been launched and Ridge Racer is back again as one of the systems launch titles, and what a title it is. Not only does it combine the best of the previous titles, but also adds in Wifi multi-player action.

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Tearing around the corner with nitros.
Before I get onto the game modes I'll talk about the gameplay. As you know the Ridge Racer titles have always been arcade styled in their approach to racing. This game takes it to new extremes with drifting out around corners an imperative part of the game. By sliding out your turbo boost meter starts to fill up, however the trade off is that your car slowly looses speed as you're drifting. That's right your cars now have a turbo to make them even faster, and passing just that little bit easier. The analogue stick works surprisingly well with the car handling nigh on perfect. In terms of in-game camera angles you have two available - one is in-car, and one is slightly above and behind (as seen in these screenshots).

Ridge Racer allows gamers to select from over 50 cars, most of which will be unlocked until you complete races in the tour mode as well as 24 circuits to race on - including four originals for this game and classic courses from previous console games as well as Rave Racer from the arcades. Actually, that number is a little misleading as there's only 12 tracks, but you also race them in reverse. Still, many of the classic tracks have been enhanced for their inclusion on the PSP and you'll be racing on fgavourites such as Lakeside Parkway, Seaside Route 765 and Ridge City Highway.

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Losing Control...
In terms of game modes you have your fairly standard Single Race and Time Attack modes, however it's the Tour Modes which will hold your interest the longest as you race to rise through the ranks of to reach the highest class. The main Tours will see you entering a series of 39 different events, each made up of several races. As you complete these events you unlock subsequent events as well as unlocking new tracks and cars for use in the Single Race and Time Attack modes. When you get tired of the main tours you can even customize the game with your own tour by selecting the race class you want to compete in and how long you want to play for. The game then selects the tracks and you're off and racing again.

Multi-player WiFi is one of the big selling points of the PSP and Ridge Racer allows you to compete with 8-players. While there's no option to Game Share (run the game on multiple PSP's with one copy of the game), this is such an impressive title that it's unlikely that people won't want their own copy anyway.

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Using the wireless mode.
There are very few complaints which you can level at this title. Primarily the AI of the opponent cars is pretty average. Rarely will you see them moving across to block you and passing seems to be a little too easy for my liking. I would also love to see Namco include some car customizations in future editions. Being able to mod your car is becoming big business in both video games and real life and any games without the ability to mod your cars are starting to appear a little lacking.

Graphically there's little doubt that Ridge Racer is the showcase title for the system (along with Sony's own Wipeout Pure) and there's little doubt that your jaw will hit the floor as you see tracks every bit as gorgeous as those in larger console versions of the game. As with other games in the series its the spot effects that really stand out be it the waterfalls or planes flying overhead. All this is done with an absolutely silky smooth frame rate. Gorgeous. If that wasn't enough the replay after each race looks sensational with almost TV styled presentation and camera angles used.

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29.527 second behind...
Audio has never been Namco's strong point, so many of their games include weak music and/or effects and previous Ridge Racer titles have certainly been in this category. Fortunately this game manages to claw its way up a couple of rungs to become bearable, and actually verging on quite good. The 30 or so music tracks are generally dance based and sound quite impressive. What still holds the game back a little are the sound effects. The engine noises are quite dull, and not the roaring beasts we'd expect while the collisions sound as weak as ever. The announcer in the game sounds as enthusicastically over the top as ever, but the range of speech is limited, and doesn't add too much to the overall audio experience.

If you like Ridge Racer then you'll love this PSP game. It's probably the best in Namco's series since the early PSOne days. Technically it's a showcase for Sony's new system and is well considering this very fun title.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSSilky smooth, gorgeous, stunning. What more need we say about it?
SOUNDNever the series strong point but this game is passable - just.
GAMEPLAYDrifting and turbos makes this one of the best arcade racers ever.
VALUE12 tracks and 50 cars to unlock, but we want more, and car modding.
OVERALLRidge Racer is another exceptional game on Playstation Portable and a real showcase for the system. If you love the series, or just want an arcade racer then this is the game for you.

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