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Contributed by Ed Gay   
Untitled Document Title: Ridge Racer
Developer: Namco

If I am honest, the thought of playing “Ridge Racer” didn’t fill me with much enthusiasm, but I thought it best to have a try and let you know my outcome. I was fully expecting a racing title which tried to be a half way house between arcade and simulation, but ended up failing and just being a bore to play

Hmm… ok I admit it, I was wrong! Ok, so this game isn’t a realistic simulation, but it isn’t trying to be. The game is saying, “Hey I’m a fun arcade title that is easy and entertaining to play, not something serious and realistic.”

This title is ideal for the PSP, in that you don’t have hundreds of controls; it’s basic but entertaining gaming. The concept is sliding your car around the circuits with lift-off oversteer and by doing so filling your NOS meter. As the bottles fill you can then release the gas and gain distance on your competitors. There is no damage, no tyre wear or fuel strategies, just full on arcade action.

There are various race modes that one can participate in:
Single race
Time Attack
World Tours - win prizes
Wireless Battle

The wireless battle is great in that you can take advantage of the PSP’s WLAN and play with up to 16 other PSP and “Ridge Racer” owners!

Graphics
I was genuinely surprised at how good the graphics were for “Ridge Racer.” The environments are modelled well and both the city and rural areas look pleasing, especially the sunrise and exhaust flames. The vehicles look nice but nothing more than that, the models aren’t pushing the PSP’s boundaries, however the upshot of that is the game runs really smoothly, cannot recall any slow-downs. The reason I say that is I did witness some in other PSP titles like “Fired Up” but that was very action packed and to be expected. Am sure that in the future titles such as “Gran Turismo” will make them look second rate, but currently, they’re more than fine.

Physics
The game takes hardly anytime to familiarise oneself with the handling of the vehicles. As I explained earlier, if you want to drift and collect “NOS”, just lift off the accelerator and the car will slide, just balance the steering to slide around the corners. If you slide too much that the backend wants to play and you don’t correct it, the car will slide around and you’ll be facing the wrong way. So it isn’t always that ‘easy’ :embarrassed face:

There is no real need for the brakes in the early courses, just a case of drifting/steering around the corners. Sometimes a dab here and there to keep the car straight is required, but not to do any heavy braking. Just pure arcade fun!

Audio
As the game is arcade oriented there is the customary sound tracks that are supposed to improve the racing experience, to me they were just annoying so I turned them off. Once they’re muted you can then hear the engine notes, which again, were surprisingly enjoyable to listen. I did the normal “sit there and bounce the revs” and the engine in this particular vehicle sounded good! As you come off the accelerator a flash of flames escape from the exhaust and the reverberations can be heard - good work!

Once you’re on the track and going flat out (which is quite normal) the high drone of the engine on maximum can get irritating but only if you pay attention to it, however not on the same scale as “Formula One.”

The rest of the audio is pretty standard; the commentator does his best to “psyche you up” with kudos comments, “woahh I didn’t know that was possible!!” which gets a little annoying after awhile. The tyre screeching as you drift sounds plausible and isn’t bothersome. The contact noise with other vehicles or scenery is the typical low “boof” sound.

Conclusion
I was really pleased I played this game. It suits the PSP down to the ground, something you can pick up quickly, have some fun without getting infuriated at. The single player longevity may not be extensive but the multiplayer life could be much longer, especially with 5-10 other players.

If you’re looking for a fun, easy to play racing game, I would recommend this title, even if you’re a sim-freak like me, there is enjoyment to be had. Well done Namco for creating a fun racing game.

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