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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Namco

 

Developer

Namco

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

November 2005

 

 

- A rewarding racing experience once you get the hang of "drifting"

- Good sense of speed

- Not locked into a specific circuit

- 30 tracks offer good variety

- Solid online play

 

 

- It takes a long time to master the art of drifting

- Not enough body damage

- Commentator is annoying

- Only two views of the racing

 

Review: Need for Speed: Most Wanted (360)

Review: Project Gotham Racing 3 (360)

Review: Burnout 3: Takedown (XB)

 

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Ridge Racer 6

Score: 7.3 / 10

 

For a franchise to reach its sixth installment there's the immediate understanding that it must be doing something right.  I admit that I haven't played any of the previous five games so if you're looking for a comparative analysis you won't find it here but being a fresh take on the series I'm unencumbered by any preconceived notions of how Ridge Racer 6 fails/exceeds its predecessors.

 

ridge racer 6          ridge racer 6

 

Ridge Racer 6 is one of the most demanding games I have ever played.  If my attention waned for a second it usually meant the difference between a 2nd and 4th Place finish.  It's not so much the sense of speed, though Ridge Racer 6 does a great job conveying speed, it's the required mastery of the "the drift", which is essentially skidding through and around corners.  Start drifting through a turn a second too early or, worse, a second too late then oversteering to compensate... Until the skill is mastered you'll spend a great deal of time riding in last place and unable to progress to the next race in the circuit.  Fortunately, you're not left at the mercy of the controls -- they're smooth and responsive -- so any screw ups are your own.

 

The World Xplorer is where you'll spend the bulk of your time when not playing online.  You'll always have to start Race 1 but from there you can plot a branching course using a grid that looks like it was inspired by Breakdown (also from Namco, released on the original Xbox).

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This is a great way of addressing the fact most racing games force you through a specific set of races.  Being able to select which races you want to be included in the circuit means that if you get completely stymied by a branch of the grid, another course can be plotted.  I really appreciated this option because I have yet to be successful on a number of the tracks.

 

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Nitrous is another tricky aspect of the game.  Drifting through turns adds to your store of nitrous but because most of the tracks are basically a series of turns using nitrous at the critical moment or even just to increase your lead takes a very good sense of timing and a memory of what the track looks like ahead.  There are three levels of nitrous which can be activated in a single, double or triple shot (depending on how much nitrous you've stored away).  Pressing the left and right trigger with a filled nitrous meter practically means "blast off!" as you rocket away with a triple boost.  However, in the same situation but using a single nitrous boost means a moderate speed gain which last three times as long.  It's basic resource management but it works extremely well in forcing you to have some kind of plan of attack for each race.

 

A plan of attack is especially true for online racing.  This is a feature of Ridge Racer 6 I probably spent too much time into (at least as far as a review might require).  Even with all my practice I have yet to snag a top three spot.  The competition is cutthroat!

 

The single-player opponent AI puts up a fair amount of challenge.  At times I felt they may have had too much in the way of nitrous at just the right time but overall it presents a challenge without feeling cheap.

 

ridge racer 6          ridge racer 6

 

Like Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Project Gotham Racing 3, Ridge Racer 6 features little in the way of damage modeling in any meaningful way.  Crunching into barriers and other cars barely cause a scratch.  I only mention this because I've spent so much time splintering cars in the Burnout series.  Ridge Racer 6 doesn't feature any licensed properties (both Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Project Gotham Racing 3 feature extensive lists of real life vehicles) so it's a bit disappointing not being able to see more vehicular damage.  That said, I like the look of the cars even if they have no real life counterpart.

 

On and off-line Ridge Racer 6 moves along at a good clip and while the tracks are a little on the uninteresting side (to look at) they're still varied and "alive" enough to not be boring.  The actual design of the tracks is very good with plenty of rises, sharp turns, sudden drops and there are around 30 tracks to master so there's plenty of play available.  Unfortunately, there's only a couple of perspectives to view the action, both are outside.  A driver seat view would have been welcome among the hardcore racers but since you spend most of the time moving sideways I can understand why it might not have been included.

 

Special mention needs to be made of the in-race "commentator."  I'm sure he's a nice guy in real life but after only two races I dug through the options to turn him off.  I'm not expecting insightful commentary but stating the very obvious -- "Somebody's using nitrous!" -- in an earnest and annoying voice does nothing for the experience.  The soundtrack fares much better though.

 

Ridge Racer 6 is recommended for nuance-loving race fans.  With the amount of fore-thought and planning required to win, casual fans are likely to frustrated.  Still, solid arcade racers aren't thick on the ground at the moment Ridge Racer 6 might be a rental to even casual fans.

 

- Aaron "Omni" Simmer

(February 3, 2006)

 

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