Review: Ridge Racer Unbounded
Ridge Racer Unbounded has drifted its way onto our Xbox 360’s after a 7 year absence, with its exploding cars and destructible city, but will our dreams for a great new racer be granted or shattered?
After the very first race you can see where Unbounded has got its influence, racers such as Burnout and Split/Second immediately spring to mind with the
slow motion takedowns and plenty of environmental destruction that can be used to your advantage. Drifting is still a big part of the racing and it takes some practice to get used to. Unfortunately the lack of guidance at the start of the game meant that it took a long time for me to realise that you needed to hold down B as you are drifting or you don’t build any power, the game just tells you to press B, bit of a pain that. This aside when you do master the drifting it’s actually pretty cool, I spent a fair bit of time slamming into walls or just not making it around the bends but as they say, practice makes perfect.
Mastering the drifting is vitally important if you want to succeed, the better the drift, the more points you score and most importantly your power bar will fill up, once it’s at its maximum many opportunities arise. As well as a boost in power, you can ‘Frag’ opponents to get them out of your way or make use of the environment to create shortcuts or cause explosions to hinder your opponents. Finish in the top three or by reaching a target will see you pass the event and give you a heap of XP points. All the points you score contribute to your XP level, which in turn unlocks new vehicles, events and even new sections of the city. The explosions are spectacular and are the most effective as they create a real advantage over the other racers.
There are plenty of events to keep you going too, once you have got used to Domination Races and Frag Attacks you’ll be introduced to Drift Attack, Shindo Races and Time Attack. I’m a big fan of Frag Attack, especially when you are given the chance to drive a huge lorry to destroy as many police cars as possible. One thing I noticed that was really annoying though, the police cars get grouped together in threes, as you destroy the first one and go into slow mo as the car flies off in a fireball, you would expect to destroy the other two as you return to real-time, but for some reason you ghost through, which is very frustrating when you miss your target by a couple of cars. The other modes are nothing special though I found myself always going back to Domination. Unbounded doesn’t shy away from throwing you in at the deep end either, the very first race took me nearly 10 attempts to get into and hold on to third place, things improve as you learn where the shortcuts are but just one mistake could see you falling behind quickly.
As you earn XP and unlock different areas of Shatter Bay, from the inner city with all the tall towers, plenty of opportunity for destruction as well as enough chances to build up that power bar on the drift-friendly roads, to docks which will require a bit more precision on the corners. You can also venture to the outer city where there are plenty of opportunities to leave the other racers smashed up against the tight tunnel walls. Shatter Bay is no Paradise City in terms of fun, but it is certainly growing on me.
Shatter Bay also looks pretty good too, especially the night-time race. The cars also look impressive and feel weighty, add in the clutter free HUD and overall it
makes for some awesome presentation. With all the destruction around you as well as your opponents it’s impressive to see that there is no drop in frame rate. I was less bothered by the soundtrack but that was just a personal preference and I could easily block it out, others will probably love it though.
I’m not normally keen on multiplayer racing, mainly because I’m rubbish at it, but this was pretty enjoyable. Ridge Racer allows you to create your own events within your own city hub. Once you have them created you can go in, race, and then set your own scores before publishing the city for other challengers to take on. You can also grab a bunch of competitors and race them in your own city. It all seemed to work pretty flawlessly too, it’s just a shame that the track editor isn’t as easy to use as it could be. For a start the camera is awful and it makes placing objects quite tedious. If you are planning to bring in bridges or tunnels you will no doubt find yourself quite confused at times when things don’t want to slot into place. At least you have the big advantage of knowing your circuit better than anyone else and it’s always fun to throw in the odd curveball to make things awkward for everyone else.
It’s fair to say that in the time that I have been reviewing the game the more I have enjoyed it, yes there are some frustrating parts to the game and sometimes I think I’ll never actually achieve a decent position by the end of the race, but I keep going back because if I nail that final corner I know that it could see me grab first place. Even when you are through all the events you will want to go back and try to win all of them, and even if you don’t you could spend hours making that perfect circuit for you and your gaming buddies. Ridge Racer is definitely Unbounded and it’s a good job too.
Review: Ridge Racer Unbounded Results
What we liked:
When mastered, the difiting is pretty cool.
The game looks excellent
Track editor, will provide hours of extra fun once the camera has been improved
What we disliked:
Annoying that drifiting wasn't introduced properly
Track editor's camera needs some work
Game difficulty from the start, might put some people off