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Platform

PSP

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Namco

 

Developer

Namco

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q1 2005

 

 

- Amazing graphics

- Some of the best tracks from
Ridge Racers past

- New Nitrous Boost really punches up the game play

 

 

- Could use some more tracks and some more unlockable items

 

 

Review: F-Zero GX (GC)

Review: Ridge Racer V (PS2)

Review: OutRun 2 (XB)

 

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Ridge Racer

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

Ridge Racer marks the third straight time that a Sony system has launched with a Ridge Racer game.  The first two launch games were good enough to move systems, but neither was close to being the best game in the series.  In fact, Ridge Racer 5 for the PS2 was a huge disappointment for me, and it was only a matter of days after its release before I returned to my favorite game in the series, Ridge Racer 64, for my power sliding fix.  Now, with Ridge Racer for the PSP, Namco has delivered not only one of the best launch titles for the system, but the best of all Ridge Racer games.

 

ridge racer review          ridge racer review

 

Without a doubt the first thing most gamers will notice about Ridge Racer is the graphics.  Ridge Racer is a flat out gorgeous game.  With its rich color palette, detailed backgrounds, colored lighting, high-polygon cars, and blistering, 60 fps frame rate, Ridge Racer is a great game to show off the PSP's graphics.  In fact, Ridge Racer is a better looking game than Ridge Racer 5 for the PS2 even discounting the console version's stuttering frame rate and polygon tearing.  The sense of speed is astounding.  If the newest Wipeout game hadn't been launched on the same day, Ridge Racer would represent the pinnacle of graphics on a hand held system.  And, actually, I'm not sure that Ridge Racer isn't the better looking game overall.

 

Certainly, being gorgeous isn't nearly enough.  The Ridge Racer franchise is so successful because the games have featured brilliant arcade style racing (with hardly a nod to realism).  Ridge Racer for the PSP continues this tradition.  The game features intense, warp speed races built around the staple Ridge Racer 

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mechanic, power sliding.  The power sliding here is nearly identical to what we experienced with Ridge Racer 5 for the PS2, tighter and not as wacky as the RR64 handling.  There was never a moment while completing Ridge Racer that I didn't feel as if I was in complete control of my vehicle. Players unhappy with the standard power sliding can instead opt for a mild or extreme power sliding setting, so there is an option for nearly any racing style.

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The coolest new addition to the traditional Ridge Racer model is the new Nitrous feature.  As a player races through a level, each power slide fills a Nitrous canister a little at a time.   When a canister is full, a brief burst of speed is available.  This burst can be used to climb hills quicker, to go outrageously fast on straight stretches, or to zip past another car as you are going fender to fender through a curve.  The player can have, at most, three full canisters at a time.  I found that it was best to keep at least one Nitrous canister in reserve for the final stretch as the game's rubber-banding A.I. will often throw one last run at you.  Popping a nitrous down the final stretch pretty much guarantees that you won't be caught by a trailing racer.

 

ridge racer review          ridge racer review

 

As far as the features go, Ridge Racer is below console expectations, but still pretty solid for a portable game.  The game features some of the best tracks from the previous arcade and console versions of the game.  Included are tracks from Rave Racer (Mountain Course, Overpass City and City Course, with new names here), the Beginner track from the original Ridge Racer, the Novice course from Ridge Racer: Revolution (called Sunset Drive here), and Heaven and Hell from Ridge Racer: Type 4 (called Crimsonrock Pass here).  Nearly all tracks appear again mirrored, so the 24 tracks advertised on the box is a little misleading, but there is still a lot of goodness here.  The game also includes an arcade port of Rally Racer which can be played to open up new cars as features.

 

Ridge Racer for the PSP is a great launch title.  With its impressive graphic and new Nitrous boost feature, RR positions itself as the best game in the series and it provides a great example of the quality of games we can expect from the PSP.

 

- Tolen Dante

(April 6, 2005)

 

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