Ridge Racer PSP Review
Sony console launches and Namco arcade racer. The two names have been going hand in hand for the past 10 years to great effect. Ridge Racer started out life as just a rival to Sega arcade racing prominence and has now out grown most others arcade racers that stand around it. Ridge Racer is now a big name for arcade racing lovers, but now its task is all about being small again. Can all the addictiveness and greatness be condensed onto the small screen and still hold a gamer’s gaze for hours on end? Can a hand-held Ridge Racer work?
The heart of the Ridge Racer is the main single-player “World Tour” mode. This is where most of the fun will be had while playing the game. It contains an assortment of classic courses and music (but that will come later) from all the previous RR tiles; the original Ridge Racer, Ridge Racer Revolution, Rage Racer, Rave Racer, R4 and Ridge Racer 5. It goes without saying that is one hell of an amount of quality courses that should keep any RR fan happy and perhaps entice new fans to buy the game. Speaking of new fans, let me explain a little bit about how Ridge Racer plays.
Driving in any Ridge Racer game is all about having fun, every race will be filled with powerslides. In previous games these powerslides were just for “showing off” or getting around a tight turn a little bit quicker but in this PSP version Namco have upped the ante by giving you three nitro slots which will be filled if you powerslide well. This nitro boosts will considerably speed up you car for about 5 seconds cutting seconds of you lap time.
The World Tour mode is split up into Basic, Pro, EX, and MAX tour which get increasingly difficult over time. Most of these races pit you against a field of 11 other racers, whilst some other races see you against a high power car in a one on one battle. Winning one of these series unlocks a new car which is usually more high power then the last. The AI while not excellent does its job well; the other 11 drivers seem to follow a set line around the track while not deviating from it much. They all will use their nitro’s to try and pass or get further ahead of you. This basic AI leads to the first few races being quiet easy, but once you get halfway through the game the speed of the other racers really ramp up and you will have to race very well to win. Controlling the car is a tight as always and you can either use the d-pad or the analogue nub to control you car. I feel the analogue control gives you better control but I am sure others will say different as each racer will have their own favourite method.
Like I said the mode which you will get the most playtime out of is “World Tour” but there are other modes available to. These modes being Single Race, Time attack and Wireless Battle. Single race lets you play an uncompetitive race against 11 other drivers on any of the tracks you have unlocked in World Tour. Time Attack is self explanatory and is the basic Time Trail mode seen in many other racing games over the last 20 years. Wireless Battle lets you play against your other PSP owning friends and can be great fun if you can get a collection of players together..
Ridge Racer is a graphical marvel and is fantastic achievement for a first gen PSP title. From the first time I loaded it up and began my first race I wondered how they got such detail onto such a small device. Not only does the game look great it also runs at a very good framerate and there is a fantastic sensation of speed at all times. When you kick in a nitro boost when driving up a hill then fly off the edge at 200mph it is a highly exhilarating experience.
The tracks are visually stunning although not quite up the recent RR standard on consoles (but you would not expect them to be) yet there is still lots going on track side. Seagulls, cows and airplanes all make appearances during races. There is also a lot of detail on each track with mountains, beachs, tress, skyscrapers and tunnels popping up every now and then. Each time you powerslide there is something different for you to see! Nice lighting, shadowing and blurring effects are used to make all of the above seem that much better!
The music has always played a big part in RR games and Ridge Racer is no different with 30 tunes available. The soundtrack contains many memorable songs from previous RR games, some of which long term RR fans will fondly remember. There is also a couple of new songs included that will take a while for you to begin to love but there is no doubt you will love them as much as you loved the others in years to come. My favourite theme has to be the Pac-Man “Eat ‘Em Up” theme as it is the tune I race to almost every race, my other favourite been “Disco Ball”. If it wasn’t for the slightly over zealous announcer we would have given a resounding 10 for Sound in Ridge Racer!
It will take experienced racers almost 20+ hours to fully complete Ridge Racer with less experienced players possibly even taking longer (possibly 30 to 40 hours) to complete it . Mastering the entire game is no easy feat as there are there a 6 different classes that get more difficult as you step up. Fast loading times help progress the game well and you never seem to be waiting around too long for a game to start. You should be having lots of fun until you hit the final finish line and you may even have some more after that!
Anyone that has any kind of love for the arcade racing genre will have a lot of fun with Ridge Racer. Fans of the previous console instalments should feel right at home while playing Ridge Racer on the PSP as the small screen does not diminish the product in any way. Likewise the addition of the new Nitro system does not harm the game at all. In fact it makes the game even more playable and fun whilst giving long-term fans of the series something new to mess about with. Ridge Racer is a fantastic achievement for a first gen PSP title, it is immensely playable and arguably the best Ridge Racer on any console or hand-held to date!
9.3 out of 10