Not so long ago I wrote an article in which I compared three “crazy racers” you could play on ps3. The games featured there were Burnout paradise, Motorstorm Apocalypse and Split/second. The thing is, there was a game that got left out of that article because, well, three way showdowns compare three games and not four. That forsaken title was Ridge Racer Unbounded. And why was it left out? Simply because out of the four, this is the one I like the least. Ironically enough though, that means that now it’s the game that has its standalone review. Enjoy.
Ridge Racer Unbounded is a 2012 3D arcade racer made by the folks at bugbear, which are the makers of Flatout 2, one of my favourite arcade racers of the ps2 era; and the makers of Sega Rally Revo, also one of my favourite arcade racers for the psp. That means that they have a record of rubbing my racing needs the right way, but it also means that the game won’t probably play like a classic ridge racer game, and it doesn’t.
How does Ridge Racer Unbounded play then? Put Burnout Revenge and Split/Second into a blender and whatever comes out of it will be very similar to this game. Like in a classic ridge racer game, there’s a great sense of speed and drifting (though different) plays an important part in the game but, the name of the game in this case is the destruction.
Charge up your nitro meter and when you release it you car will turn into an unstoppable force. Ram into any rival vehicle, they’ll blow up, see a building in the middle of the road, you can go through it as well… It’s brutal and it is very fun. That ability to simply destroy whatever gets in your way will help you mostly to unlock shortcuts and also to trigger explosions to damage your rivals so, apart from flashy, it’s quite useful and you should be trying to recharge that nitro meter as fast and as many times as possible.
The story of the game, if you can call it that, revolves around you, the player being a racer that wants to take down the city by destroying it in races because… that’s what you do. You get a video of it at the start of the game telling you that and another one as you finish the last challenge in the game telling you to cause more destruction online so… yes, there’s not really a story there. It’s just a premise that doesn’t make much sense so I’m actually glad that they didn’t beat my head with it over and over and just kept it to two minimal videos. Instead, the meat of the game it’s its gameplay, and that’s fine by me.
The game’s graphics certainly draw from the sources of that older ps3 era where being monochromatic was a plus. It’s not like the game looks bad, the destruction looks amazing and the detail of having the hud be reflected on the levels instead of being fixed on the camera is original and simply cool looking. However, the overusage of tinted filters is high in this game. It’s an acquired taste and you might like that calid aesthetic but I would have prefered a more colorful display.
The sound department is another aspect of the game that changed from the classic formula. The soundtrack for Ridge Racer Unbounded is dubstep and that’s it. If you like that kind of music, you’ll love it, if you don’t you can silence it in the options.
Things I liked
- Intense action: The idea of having the cars turn into unstoppable cannonballs that can go through trucks, through walls and through entire buildings is simply a great idea. It makes the races to be really flashy and cool. Each track is filled with plenty of destructible stuff you can drive through, shortcuts to open… it’s so much fun.
- Rubberbanding: It’s a sad era for arcade racers if I have to mention as a positive feature that the rubberbanding in this game is really minimal (if there is any at all) but that’s the way it is. If you mess up, catching up to the oponents will be very hard and if you do very well, your rivals won’t magically catch up with you as if they were driving a car from another class. Your victories will be earned fairly.
- Modes: The meat of the game are the domination races which are those races with the amazing “destroy everything” boost but there’s way more than that. There are time trials in stunt circuits, drifting challenges, a mode in which you’ll have to destroy a certain number of cars in certain time… Not all modes are equally fun but they break up the monotony and are a welcome addition.
- Track creator: The game features an easy to use track creator that will lengthen the lifespan of the game for sure. How robust is it? Well, I’m pretty sure that all the tracks in the game were created with that so… pretty robust I’d say.
Things I didn’t
- Drifting: The biggest and most obvious flaw in the game. I’m fine with the drifting not working at all like in the original ridge racer games but the problem is that the drifting mechanics in this one are as demanding as they’re unintuitive. There’s a very thin line between not drifting at all and spinning out of control and because of the different stats of each car, that line is drawn in different spots each time and you’ll have to learn it fast. Give it time and you’ll eventually get used to how the drifting works in this game but the fact is that the drifting could have been done much better.
- Multiplayer: As of today, the servers of this game are down so you can’t play online anymore. Also, the game never featured split screen multiplayer modes so… the game is only a single player experience nowadays and for an arcade racer, that’s not right.
Who’d like this?
If you think that you could like the game solely on the fact that you enjoyed ridge racer games in the past, think otherwise because this game isn’t like that at all.
However, if you’re a fan of really crazy arcade racers with over-the-top action and a great sense of speed you’ll probably will have a blast with this game but… only when you get used to the tricky drifting.
<The game is available on ps3 and other platforms> <If you want to see the game in movement and with a much improved soundtrack, check this out>