Ridge Racer 7 PS3 Review

It’s been over thirteen years since the first Ridge Racer entered the gaming world. The opening instalment was original out in the arcades. A year later it became a launch title for Sony’s PlayStation system. Since then a Sony console launch has always had a Ridge Racer game to coordinate with it. The release of Ridge Racer 6 on the Xbox 360 was the first time the series had ever supported another console from launch. With the PlayStation 3 nearly arriving in our European stores and already out in Japan and America, Namco has decided to support the console release with Ridge Racer 7.

Ridge Racer 7 is just like all the other games when it comes down to gameplay. It’s all about crazy high speed drifting. This game is certainly not a racing simulation. It is however a pure high octane arcade racing game. This means that you’ll be drifting around corners at speeds no lower than 125mph, “Whoa! That’s some crazy drifting!” as one crazy commentator would say. The game takes this one principle of speedy drifting and bases everything around it. You’ll have to perfect the drift to become a Ridge Racer master.

If you’ve never played a Ridge Racer game in your life, then you’ll probably be surprised and somewhat alienated by how the game handles. It doesn’t take into account real physics. The game is all about illogical, over the top skidding, kind of like you are sliding around corners on oil. Drifting is simply done by releasing the gas button, turning into the corner you are going around and simply holding down the gas button again. This initiates the car to slide around the corner no matter how fast you are travelling. If you travel slowly however (sub 60mph for example,) into a corner the game won’t forgive you for doing so and you’ll probably not initiate the drift correctly and consequently end straight up into a wall. To Ridge Racer veterans, this is what they are used to. They wouldn’t have the game any other way and will feel right at home jumping into Ridge Racer 7.

A returning gameplay mechanic from Ridge Racer 6 is the nitrous bar. It was first introduced to the series through the PlayStation Portable game Ridge Racers. It was then improved upon in Ridge Racer 6 by adding double and triple nitrous modes. To fill up the nitrous bar you have to drift well and fast around corners. Once you’ve packed up a bar you can shoot off a nitrous that will send your speed over the car’s supposed maximum speed limit. At first you only have the ability to use them in single bursts, but once you travel further through the Ridge State Grand Prix mode you get to unlock different nitrous abilities. The double and triple nitrous make a return with some extra tuning abilities tossed in because of the new customisation feature.

Slipstreaming is something new added to the franchise. At the bottom left of the screen under the nitrous bar, is a little bar showing when you are slipstreaming. If you manage to stay behind long enough, you can catapult yourself around and in front with the extra speed gained from slipstreaming. It even works when you aren’t exactly right behind the car. It manages to give you a temporary speed increase a few seconds after you come out of the slipstream. It’s not something that you need to get used to straight away. It does however come in handy for online and the harder races. The slipstreaming is a worthwhile enhancement to the gameplay.

Customisation is a new element that the Ridge Racer series has be yearning for a long time. It may not feature customisation as deep as games like Need for Speed, but you are surely able to make something that looks like a hot ride. The player can modify the car using the game’s Machine Connector function. This area of the game lets you change the physical look of the car. Things like bumpers, roofs, spoilers and the like can be altered. It also lets you upgrade the car’s hardware. Components like engines, tyres, nitrous, suspension and so forth can be changed.

The main mode for single player is the Ridge State Grand Prix. Like Ridge Racer 6‘s Explorer mode, the game introduces you with a video to how the career system works. Modes like this in the past games have always just been about racing and winning better performance cars. This time Ridge Racer 7 starts off with you having to build relationships with car manufacturers. To do this you must beat the manufacturer’s challenge and upon completion you are rewarded with either a new car or machine parts. Once you’ve got yourself a mean machine, you then have to go about winning credits and gaining fame. Like any sort of racing competition, this means making sure you’re winning races to get you into the spot light. Coming first also means you’ll be able to gain points for using the manufacturer’s car and/or tuning parts. Building these points up to the max of 100 equals rewards. Rewards means goodies like new parts unlocked and discount off prices.

There is somewhat of a minor concern for the Ridge State Grand Prix mode. I say minor because while it may sound like a huge predicament, it doesn’t actually take that much enjoyment out of the game. Also the problem does sort itself out once you get further into the mode. The hitch is that the start of the Ridge State Grand Prix is truly easy, too easy in fact… This was also a dilemma in Ridge Racer 6 too. It feels like Namco is hand-feeding you the victories and to come anything but first would really mean doing a giant cock up. The difficulty does increase once you get further into the game, especially when the extreme battles are unlocked. These are highly challenging races with some seeming impossible, until you get the hang of the track and when to exactly release the nitrous.

Other modes are typically what you would find in most other racers on the market. Online Battle, as you can guess is where you go online to race against people around the world. It contains the single racing that was included in Ridge Racer 6 (Ridge Racer 6 was the first time the series went online.) To accompany the standard racing are a few new modes, which are more focused on groups. The first one is Team Battle. This is where the players are split in to groups of two, team red and team blue. The winners of the race are the team that manages to get the most points. This means coming in higher positions than the opposite team members. A twist on this event is Pair Battle, which is somewhat the same, but people are just put in to pairs of two. Then it is the first pair to cross the line that wins. There isn’t actually anything different to the racing, so it still fun to play the different modes that are on offer.

The online and offline stuff are somewhat merged together. Straight from the get go you’ll see a news bar which updates at the bottom of the screen, showing other players’ accomplishments and how many game rooms are available. Also everything you do in both modes is saved into your Ridge State ID card. This ID card is full of stats and information. It takes down your location, rankings in the multiple categories available, wins, miles driven and so forth. It also has achievements you can unlock so people can see what you’ve accomplished. Obviously you don’t get any points for them, since the PlayStation 3 console doesn’t have anything like the Xbox 360 achievement point system, but you can still get bragging rights as you fill them up.

Global Time Attack, Arcade, and UFRA Special Event are the last modes. The first two shouldn’t need an explanation, but UFRA Special Event is a section that allows you to download and play some extra special racing events, which appear up on the PlayStation Store when Namco decide to release any. There wasn’t any available at the time of writing this review, but there are some out in Japan, so no doubt they will eventually arrive for us English-speaking gamers. European release time period I’d speculate for the time been.

Since Ridge Racer 6 was a release title for the Xbox 360, a rival console to the PS3, people are going to want to know just how well Ridge Racer 7 looks. The game is a PS3 release title, which features some content from Ridge Racer 6, so how does it look then on Sony’s power house? Not that much different really. The game has support for high definition gaming, which means 720p, 1080i and 1080p. The game looks exceptionally sharp and clear at those resolutions, even on a standard television set the game looks clean and crisp. Compared to Ridge Racer 6 the game looks a little sharper. The tracks also featured from the previous game contain a polished look with some improved textures appearing in certain sections, usually with better light reflection or a wetter appearance. Namco has also added little effects on the nitrous using screen blurs around the edges and the camera shakes around to just give you a sense that you are using some crazy high speed boosting. The game has a great sense of speed that makes it feel a tad faster than Ridge Racer 6.

Music is an extremely immense part of the Ridge Racer experience. The series has made a mark for its addictive sounding trace/dance/techno songs. The game contains a hefty 38 songs in the Global Music. There is another disc greyed out called “Net Disc.” For the time being it doesn’t seem to do anything. My guess is however that this will be for the downloadable music content that appears up on the Playstation Network servers in the future. The car sounds aren’t anything to shout about. They seem to be your standard affair. They get the job done, that sort of thing.

Ridge Racer 7 is just the sort of update the franchise needed. It adds a lot of new things the series has never seen before. Ridge Racer 6 was more of a minor update, while this pushes it up a stride. Ridge Racer 6 did shove it into online play, but apart from that it was the same stuff over again with new courses and looks. It was a good game and loads of fun, but it couldn’t really be done again without people catching on and complaining. People who have played/owned the 360 version will be asking a lot of questions about the content of Ridge Racer 7. It does feature a lot of cars and tracks from Ridge Racer 6, but at the same time it somehow manages to still feel fresh. This is due to the new features of slipstreaming, customisation and the whole new take on the main single player mode, Ridge State GP. The game is certainly recommended if you’ve never played six, and if you liked six then it would be worth checking it out and seeing for yourself just how different it is. When all’s said and done the game isn’t revolutionary, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s all about having fun with the PlayStation 3 on launch day and this game will provide you with some great arcade racing enjoyment. Just sit in your chair and prepare for the adrenaline rush of some outrageous nitrous. Feel the passion of Ridge Racer.

Ridge Racer 7 is a high octane, pure arcade racer that fans will enjoy and new comers will have fun. It’s full of old and new content and is worth a check out for any racing fan.

8.4 out of 10

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