Ridge Racer Unbounded (RRU) may carry the Ridge Racer moniker but it’s a far cry from any Ridge Racer game you’ve played in the past. Drifting still plays a crucial part in the latest from Bugbear Entertainment but by adding in a whole lot of destructibility to environments, RRU allows players to blaze through its levels with reckless abandon making the game feel more like Split/Second rather than what players have to come to expect from Namco’s racing series. And that’s really not a bad thing.

Drifting is the name of the game

Drifting is the name of the game

RRU is structured like most arcade racing games where you partake in a bunch of offline single player modes to comprehend the gameplay mechanics after which you take your skills online. The single player campaign offers a significant amount of races spread throughout a fictional city called Shutter Bay city so unless you absolutely suck at racing games, you should be pretty proficient with the game’s drifting mechanics in a few hours.

Drifting in RRU is a bit different than most games and takes some getting used to. As you approach a turn, nailing that perfect drift is a combination of pressing the Drift button while easing up on the gas and steering in another direction. Like I said, it takes some getting used to but after a few races you should be just fine. Drifting real well or drafting behind opponents, nets you boost that can be used to either take down other cars or blast through buildings and other structures effectively creating your own shortcut in the process.

I'm on fire - literally

I'm on fire – literally

Boost in this game isn’t unlimited so you have to decide whether you want that short burst of speed in the conventional way by taking the lead or use it in a more destructive fashion to blast through buildings or take your opponents down. This adds a nice layer of strategy to the game making sure every race offers up a new challenge. Throughout the campaign, you’ll indulge in various game modes that range from simply competing in races to our personal favourite, Domination events that require speed, tact and a whole lot of aggression on your part to win. In between you’ll come across other more conventional modes like time attack, or drift attack that are fairly self-explanatory. You also have something called Frag Attack that basically has you taking down cars before the timer runs out. This mode should have in fact been the cherry upon this destructive cake but it turns out to be rather cumbersome since you cannot turn off the Burnout style cinematic camera that kicks in after every single takedown.

Once you conquer Shutter Bay by yourself, you can move online to take on some human competition. Unfortunately I don’t think too many people ended up going with the PC version as it was a real pain to find any events online. However I did luck out one day and found a pretty well populated lobby. As expected, it was a ton of fun since gameplay stays the same but obviously becomes far more challenging as actual players are thrown into the mix.

Besides multiplayer, the game also ships with a map editor and while my creative skills are something to be desired, I had an absolute blast trying out the many user created maps online. If you do wish to experiment, however, the map editor is rather simple to use. Besides game modes as well as the number of and skill of your opponents, you can populate the map with structures, ramps, and not to mention things that go boom. You can then upload your track online and challenge people to beat your own time. If this game does pick up some steam with the online community, I expect RRU to be flooded with some pretty challenging user created content increasing its shelf life exponentially.

Oooo pretty

Oooo pretty

We reviewed the PC version of Ridge Racer and while it isn’t the best looking racer on the block, it gets by just fine. In such a fast paced racer, a solid frame rate is crucial and RRU passes with flying colours in that department. However the game did seem kind of jerky, a nagging issue that went away after I started playing the game in the windowed mode. Weird.

Destruction looks and feels tremendously satisfying and I cannot state how thoroughly liberating it is to drift through pillars exploding them upon your touch instead of meekly trying to navigate around them. Cars get taken out in spectacular ways but it’s a real pain to keep watching the takedown cameras over and over again. What I really did like though was the game’s way of displaying lap time, position and other important in-game details through the environment itself, much like Splinter Cell Conviction. Special mention must also go out to the uber gorgeous orange neon trails emitted from your car as you trigger your boost.

Displayi mate

Displayi mate

The game ships with a soundtrack you would expect in a Ridge Racer game. You have some trance, techno and of course, the ever popular dubstep. There’s no way to upload your tracks into the game so if you don’t like the game’s offering, mute the in-game audio and fire up some of your own music.

Ridge Racer Unbounded isn’t the perfect game nor is it the conventional Ridge Racer experience you were probably expecting. It also suffers from a few annoyances but we recommend you dive in with an open mind because it is a tremendously gratifying racer we most definitely recommend.

Test Rig:

Motherboard: Intel DP67BG Extreme Desktop series
Processor: Intel Core i7 – 2600K @3.40 GHZ
Graphic Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
Ram: Corsair Vengeance 4GB DD3 @ 1600 MHZ X2
Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200W

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