By RivaOni 1 Comments
It's sometimes suprising to look back at how popular a series used to be when in a more modern age it meets with little fanfare or hype upon a new instalment being released. The Ridge Racer series is just one of those series, and when the fanbase was at its highest Namco decided to take on the career (and simulation) focused Gran Turismo by applying a career mode to its more balls to the wall style racing game.
And for what its worth, it all worked out. Ridge Racer Type 4 was one of the finest racing games on the console, it was also amongst my favourites. The game featured around 600 cars (although only around 40 different variants), 2 fictional manufacturers and 4 fictional racing teams based upon different videogames from Namco's gaming history. The career was a pretty simple affair. A series of 8 races on different courses split into different difficulties. As the difficulty level was risen, the circuits became twistier, the distance between cars longer and the overall speed of the game much faster. Although that was the only way in which the game became difficult, the opponent cars never had the AI to be able to race you, so it was mostly down to just how fast you could drive which ever cars you were unlocking and racing in. As your season long career progressed with a specific team a story panned out revolving around that teams boss, winning the final race provided a news report that filled in the conclusion of the story.
At the time, no one had really done anything like this in regards to a career mode, and whilst it was hardly different in reality to any other racing games career mode it gave you a feeling of being part of a team rather than just racing in a vehicle featuring an pretty (or sometimes not, obviously) livery. The actual driving was typical Ridge Racer, accelerate until the last possible moment before sending the car into a drift around the corner and despite the fact there was now no countdown, arcade game style clock, due to the lack of competetiveness in the AI controlled cars you are still effectively racing against the clock.
Graphically at the time it was this or Polyphony's racer. Nothing else came close, the cars were shiny, the city scapes were stunning and everything looked stunning, I've always held that this game was better looking overall than Gran Turismo. In comparison the graphics were less blocky and the game had so much more style and was infinetely less sterile than its more "realistic" competitor. Obviously now it looks dated, but its still a nice looking game with cool stylistic choices like the red streams that come off the rear lights of your car on the night circuits and the touches of lense glare on others. I also think that now, thanks to the more "arcade" styling of Ridge Racer Type 4's handling, it holds up to modern standards of gameplay than pretty much every other racing game on the PlayStation and only really has something like SEGA Rally that holds up better overall as a videogame nowdays.