Giant Bomb Review

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Ridge Racer Review

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  • VITA

The Vita version of Ridge Racer is light on content, and the vast majority of what's actually here has appeared in previous Ridge Racer games.

Hey, remember this track?

The best thing you can say about Ridge Racer on the Vita is that if you buy it digitally, it's $25. But even at that lower-than-average price, Namco's latest feels like a con. It has a criminally low number of courses that have all appeared in previous Ridge Racer games, no interesting career structure whatsoever, a new car customizing feature that somehow manages to make the "machines" feel less unique, and a bunch of music that also appeared in the old games. You'd have to be extremely hard up for any form of ridge racing for this to add up to something worth purchasing.

OK, very quickly, let's go over what Ridge Racer is for people that might not have played it before. It's a driving game with an emphasis on drifting around sharp corners, but it has a handling model that automatically takes over most of the steering when you drift, so as long as your tires are squealing, the game will automatically whip you around corners with little input from the player. Much of the game, then, turns into properly timing the release of the accelerator, which causes you to lose traction and start a drift. Then you must attempt to correct your course as soon as possible once the turn is complete, so you can regain traction and start properly accelerating. It feels nothing like real driving and it's a system that probably made a lot of sense when the franchise debuted in arcades back around 1993. These days, with racing games becoming both more realistic and more nuanced, whether they're attempting to simulate real driving or not, Namco's franchise feels like a relic. That's not inherently good or bad--I actually quite like Ridge Racer's core tenets of "Always Be Drifting" and "If You Have To Hit The Brakes, You're Doing It Wrong." But you should know that it's a very specific flavor of driving that will probably baffle newer players.

On the Vita, Ridge Racer doesn't stray far from its past. In fact, an overwhelming majority of the available content is ripped right out of previous Ridge Racer games, from the PSP and PS3 releases. The tracks are old, most of the music came out of a previous Ridge Racer game, and the car design is, well, directly in line with what you'd expect from previous games in the series. It's one thing to evoke a sense of Ridge Racer's past, but much like many of the recent Ridge Racer releases, this Vita version simply lifts things from the other games and dumps them on you again. So even at its relatively low price, this doesn't feel like a good deal. It's worth noting that the US version of the game comes with a "gold pass" for a limited time that gives you access to a handful of DLC add-ons for free, but these extra tracks are also old, and the additional music and vehicles you can acquire this way don't really add much to the overall package.

How about this one?

It's a shame that the content is totally lacking, because there's a trim, but effective set of options in the game that show that at least someone on the development is thinking about the future of Ridge Racer. Rather than dragging you into a huge list of single-player events that form some sort of career mode, Ridge Racer gives you access to everything right away. You can set up spot races that pit you against the traditional collection of AI racers, but the main bit of Ridge Racer is the ability to download ghosts of other human racers and attempt to beat their times. If you do, you can upload your ghost back to the server, letting other players take you on. There's also an interesting, but sort of half-baked team system that has you pick one of four teams when you first start. A daily mission system lets you know which of the other teams are your direct enemies on that specific day, giving you an incentive to seek out ghosts from those opposing teams. The game also has direct online play, allowing up to eight players to unite over the Internet and race on the same anemic selection of tracks again and again. This is another way to gain victories over the opposing teams. But those victories don't reliably funnel into more funds for upgrades or anything, so it doesn't feel like there's enough of a payoff for jumping through the hoops and fighting the right players.

The upgrade system is a flowchart of annoying boxes that let you change the way nitrous works on your car at first, but eventually you can get slipstream add-ons and other abilities. This is where the now-standard Ridge Racer systems like Flex Nitrous and Ultimate Charge come into play. You can equip three upgrades at once, but each upgrade is tagged to one of three groups, and you can only equip one from each group. This, presumably, is how the developers hope to maintain some sort of balance in the system. It's fine, but the upgrade tree is saddled with lame hints that must be paid for and unlocked before you can advance along the tree and get actual upgrades for your vehicles. Also, with the upgrade system and a slider that lets you make any car a "mild" or "dynamic" drifting car, the differences between vehicles are essentially nonexistent. Given the past of unlocking various special cars with unique abilities, this manages to make all the cars feel a little plain.

Visually, the game looks decent, with a frame rate that's smooth enough to convey a solid sense of speed. There's also a nice depth-of-field effect in place that makes distant objects appropriately blurry. But that's still not enough to make this feel like a worthwhile package. As a fan of Ridge Racer, the way the past few games have just rehashed existing track designs is borderline offensive. Packing up an even smaller list of old content and selling it at a "discount" price doesn't make this Vita version any better. I suppose there's a case to be made that lapsed Ridge Racer fans who haven't seen these tracks a million times already might find the Vita release to be more appealing, but... that's a pretty narrow group.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
70 Comments
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Posted by iAmJohn

Man, a two? I expected this to get a one after the Bombcast...

Posted by Barrabas

This got about one star more than I expected.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

Just what does it take for a game to get one star.

Posted by ian280291

Shitty game always hated Riiiiiiiiiidge Racer

Posted by drowsap

Bummer another Vita flop this aint looking good Sony

Posted by SgtGrumbles

@ImmortalSaiyan said:

Just what does it take for a game to get one star.

I'd guess a one star is reserved for something that is broken and doesn't work other than just something that is kind of shitty.

Posted by iAmJohn

@ModerateViolence said:

@ImmortalSaiyan said:

Just what does it take for a game to get one star.

I'd guess a one star is reserved for something that is broken and doesn't work other than just something that is kind of shitty.

Or if the game is morally bankrupt.

Posted by Cyrisaurus

@drowsap said:

Bummer another Vita flop this aint looking good Sony

If every console/handheld's fate was decided by launch games then nothing would be considered successful.

Posted by Porkellain

@iAmJohn said:

@ModerateViolence said:

@ImmortalSaiyan said:

Just what does it take for a game to get one star.

I'd guess a one star is reserved for something that is broken and doesn't work other than just something that is kind of shitty.

Or if the game is morally bankrupt.

Review of the year IMHO.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

@ModerateViolence: I see that as a big problem with the way games are getting reviewed. Just because something functions is no reason to reward it. That is like getting marks on a test or spelling your name right.

Posted by JoeyRavn

@ian280291 said:

Shitty game always hated Riiiiiiiiiidge Racer

More like RiiiiiiiDLC Racer , am I right?

Posted by Legend

Damn you Namco! I wanted a good RR for my Vita. :(

Posted by Animasta

FUCK YOU JEFF YOU JUST CANNOT SEE THE GLORY THAT IS RIDGE RACER FOR THE VITA

seriously though, I hope no one bought this

Posted by EmuLeader

@Legend said:

Damn you Namco! I wanted a good RR for my Vita. :(

You may have wanted, but you couldn't have actually expected it. I haven't heard one good thing about a recently released ridge racer game in years and years. Still, hopes are ever present.

Posted by SexVicar

Well. All hopes lay on Unbounded. I wonder what that's li-

Trackmania with Explosions. On consoles.

Hello new TNT game. Howya doin?

Posted by rockman29

Pretty lame... I was looking forward to a RR on Vita... but not this one.

Posted by upwarDBound

I don't know if the screens in the review are indicative of the actual game, but they look really bad.

Posted by Generiko

I was scared for a moment thinking this was Unbounded.

Online
Posted by Legend

@EmuLeader said:

@Legend said:

Damn you Namco! I wanted a good RR for my Vita. :(

You may have wanted, but you couldn't have actually expected it. I haven't heard one good thing about a recently released ridge racer game in years and years. Still, hopes are ever present.

I actually enjoyed playing Ridge Racer 3D on the 3DS. Probably my favorite 3DS launch game. I was expecting at least something as good as that.

Posted by Protonguy

What a shocker, the ridge racer team phones it in again to milk the franchise.

Posted by BisonHero

@ModerateViolence said:

@ImmortalSaiyan said:

Just what does it take for a game to get one star.

I'd guess a one star is reserved for something that is broken and doesn't work other than just something that is kind of shitty.

In addition to not being broken, it sounds like the game is still fun to play. It's just that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you know that pretty much all of the content and assets are just repeats. So not only is this game not broken and buggy, it also manages to still have that fun Ridge Racer gameplay.

Posted by fisk0

I just wish DICE would make a sequel to their excellent 1998 futuristic racer Motorhead. Why would anybody ask for anything else?

Posted by iAmJohn

@SexVicar said:

Well. All hopes lay on Unbounded. I wonder what that's li-

Trackmania with Explosions. On consoles.

Hello new TNT game. Howya doin?

What the fuck? This is Ridge Racer Unbounded?!

Omfg.

Posted by Jolt92

I could never have guessed.

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

I was hoping to see Jeff do a review of Unit 13 on the Vita, which I think is so far one of the most promising of the launch window titles.

I guess he still could.

Posted by Winsord

@ImmortalSaiyan said:

@ModerateViolence: I see that as a big problem with the way games are getting reviewed. Just because something functions is no reason to reward it. That is like getting marks on a test or spelling your name right.

You're getting way too into the score here; the actual content of the review is what matters.

That said, I'm not surprised that this is sub-par.

Posted by Phoenix87

Attack the weak spot for massive damage.

Posted by fisk0
@iAmJohn said:

@SexVicar said:

Well. All hopes lay on Unbounded. I wonder what that's li-

Trackmania with Explosions. On consoles.

Hello new TNT game. Howya doin?

What the fuck? This is Ridge Racer Unbounded?!

Omfg.

Yes, What the fuck is the proper sequence of words to use here, because I think someone just sold me on a fucking Ridge Racer game.
Posted by Yagami

This is a typical "get it out asap" game. Sad. It isn't extremely terrible but it is close to...

Great review Jeff!

Posted by Video_Game_King

"Remember this track?" No? Not entirely useful for people with little to no experience with the Ridge Racer series.

Edited by Rekt_Hed

ohhhh dear :/ Why must they continue to do this to this once great franchise....words fail.

Posted by Winternet

@Video_Game_King said:

"Remember this track?" No? Not entirely useful for people with little to no experience with the Ridge Racer series.

If you're looking for useful information on images' captions on Giant Bomb, your quest will not be successful.

Posted by TheRealJpoe

Would anyone feel different about this game if they were to call it "Ridge Racer: Classic"? It could of kinda justified all the recycled content. I mean it's not like they were positioning this as the next main Ridge Racer game anyways.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Winternet:

I was trying to be more evocative of his general tone throughout the review, which seems to be (at least in part) "this game sucks because it's exactly like older Ridge Racers".

Posted by Nomin

But does it still have RRIIIIIDDGGEEEE RAAACERR!!!?

That's all that matters.

Posted by SexVicar

@fisk0 said:

@iAmJohn said:

@SexVicar said:

Well. All hopes lay on Unbounded. I wonder what that's li-

Trackmania with Explosions. On consoles.

Hello new TNT game. Howya doin?

What the fuck? This is Ridge Racer Unbounded?!

Omfg.

Yes, What the fuck is the proper sequence of words to use here, because I think someone just sold me on a fucking Ridge Racer game.

Well that's one more than Namco managed to sell.

By the way, the game came out today but not even Namco knows what on earth is going on. Unless it's some really ridiculous Dark Souls esque marketing. It's also dropped to $49.99 in a lot of places already. So go hog wild (So there will be enough players and content for a TNT).

Posted by Winternet

@Video_Game_King: If this is, in fact, basically the same game as others in the series, then yeah, the game kinda sucks.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Winternet:

Only if those other games in the series sucked. It would make no sense to say that it changed by staying the same.

Posted by Winternet

@Video_Game_King: making the same game over and over does decrease the quality of said game. Even if the first game is amazing. And apparently Ridge Racer has reached the "this game sucks" level.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Winternet:

Not quite. Let's say, for example, that I were to buy Ridge Racer. Now, I have little to no experience with the series, so how would that have any bearing on how I would perceive the game? It could still suck, but there's no way it would suck for being similar to a game with which I have absolutely no experience.

Posted by ItBeStefYo

Sounds like it should get 1 star, unacceptable for a game.

Posted by fisk0
@SexVicar said:

@fisk0 said:

@iAmJohn said:

@SexVicar said:

Well. All hopes lay on Unbounded. I wonder what that's li-

Trackmania with Explosions. On consoles.

Hello new TNT game. Howya doin?

What the fuck? This is Ridge Racer Unbounded?!

Omfg.

Yes, What the fuck is the proper sequence of words to use here, because I think someone just sold me on a fucking Ridge Racer game.

Well that's one more than Namco managed to sell.

By the way, the game came out today but not even Namco knows what on earth is going on. Unless it's some really ridiculous Dark Souls esque marketing. It's also dropped to $49.99 in a lot of places already. So go hog wild (So there will be enough players and content for a TNT).

It's not out until Friday the 30th here, but I'll probably pick it up on both PS3 and PC.
Edited by Winternet

@Video_Game_King: If you have not played any Ridge Race before then why would you want to play this one if it's the same as the other games you decided not to play? You can argue that you own a Vita, but never owned any other platform where this game appeared before (which I believe it's not your case). If that's the case, then Jeff says that you may find this game more appealing. He argues that the group of people where this situation applies is very small, which I agree since Ridge Racer games have appeared in all major consoles.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Winternet said:

@Video_Game_King: If you have not played any Ridge Race before then why would you want to play this one if it's the same as the other games you decided not to play?

That's not important to the example. Perhaps it wasn't an active decision, but I simply did not know that there were other Ridge Racer games (in this case, it would be very easy to say that). Again, that's not important. The point is that the reasons for criticizing the game should come from the game itself, not from games outside this one. Jeff seems to realize this, but treats it more like an afterthought than the basis for his review (from what I can tell, the line of thought that I'm criticizing is the basis of his review, given how much focus it has received).

Posted by Winternet

@Video_Game_King: Again, if this is the first time you came in contact with the Ridge Racer franchise you're part of a very small minority. A review can't cover all possible angles. You say that the basis of the review and the critic is the fact that it's very similar to the other Ridge Racer games. If after playing the game, the thing that stick out the most to Jeff is the high similarity to other games, then that should be the main focus of the review. For Jeff, that's the most important thing about this game. That said, his critic goes beyond that. " criminally low number of courses" "no interesting career structure whatsoever" are good examples for why this is a bad game.

Posted by SuperSambo

@Video_Game_King said:

@Winternet said:

@Video_Game_King: If you have not played any Ridge Race before then why would you want to play this one if it's the same as the other games you decided not to play?

That's not important to the example. Perhaps it wasn't an active decision, but I simply did not know that there were other Ridge Racer games (in this case, it would be very easy to say that). Again, that's not important. The point is that the reasons for criticizing the game should come from the game itself, not from games outside this one. Jeff seems to realize this, but treats it more like an afterthought than the basis for his review (from what I can tell, the line of thought that I'm criticizing is the basis of his review, given how much focus it has received).

I don't understand how you can hold that viewpoint :S. Of course it needs to be compared to previous games in the series, and criticised for its lack of anything new.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@SuperSambo said:

Of course it needs to be compared to previous games in the series, and criticised for its lack of anything new.

Even though this logic is utterly meaningless to those who have never played a Ridge Racer game?

@Winternet said:

A review can't cover all possible angles.

It should at least try to, though; a review should list things that would possibly be evident to just about anybody playing the game, and drawing reasons from the game itself (as he does with the low number of courses and the crap career thing) is a good way of doing so.

Posted by Meteora

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiidge racer

Posted by Winternet

@Video_Game_King said:

a review should list things that would possibly be evident to just about anybody playing the game, and drawing reasons from the game itself (as he does with the low number of courses and the crap career thing) is a good way of doing so.

So, you're saying that Jeff did draw reasons from the game to critic it? So, there's no problem with the review.

Posted by SuperSambo

@Video_Game_King said:

@SuperSambo said:

Of course it needs to be compared to previous games in the series, and criticised for its lack of anything new.

Even though this logic is utterly meaningless to those who have never played a Ridge Racer game?

So all derivative games need to be assessed on their own?

It says in the review people who haven't played the game may find this release appealing.

What else do you need?

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