The World Is Yours In Ridge Racer Unbounded

Posted by Ryan (1263 posts) -

They won’t say it in so many words, but the folks at Namco have a lot riding on Ridge Racer Unbounded. Though its long-running arcade racer has maintained a strong enough fan base to support some 20-odd titles over the past 18 years, there’s little question that the waters have grown stagnant. People just aren’t excited about Ridge Racer like they used to be--just ask Kaz Hirai.

So, good on Namco for showing a little stone and bringing in Finnish developer Bugbear to mix things up with Ridge Racer Unbounded, a game that bears little resemblance to a traditional Ridge Racer game beyond shiny cars going fast. Bugbear has plenty of experience with racing games, and from the one race I’ve had a chance to play so far, the influence of the destructive, rubbin’-is-racin’ philosophy of Bugbear’s FlatOut series is palpable. (Ridge Racer purists who are already sobbing openly and burning their Reiko Nagase bodypillows, chill: Namco assures us that a proper Ridge Racer 8 is still on the way.) Players are encouraged to fill up a power meter with clean, risky driving, then use that power to smash through walls and take out competing drivers. By virtue of the FlatOut connection, it’s easy to then draw comparisons between Unbounded and the Burnout games, as well as other derivatives like Split/Second. To this end, Unbounded, at least in its current state, doesn’t have the same level of visual pop as either of those, and the handling model is still in the process of being tuned, though the potential's clearly there.

What Unbounded does bring to the table, though, is its city creator, which Namco and Bugbear are showing off now for the first time. At its most basic, this is a track editor that presents you with a grid, lets you pick from pre-fab track sections that come in a few different flavors, chain them together into a track of your own design, and then share them with the community. Though the pre-fab track parts don’t provide for much detailed track-crafting, an advance mode will allow you to specifically place obstacles and explosive objects, and the end results look virtually indistinguishable from what we’ve seen so far of the dense, urban, developer-built tracks the game will ship with. The number of unique tiles that Bugbear will produce for the final game, as well as the number of tiles players will be able to use in a single track, are still up in the air, and both seem like real make-or-break factors for the success of this feature.

With its current, vague 2012 release date, Bugbear seems to have plenty of time to do that work, and assuming that the fundamentals gameplay comes together, Unbounded has the potential to fill the current void of crash-happy, high-impact arcade racing games, as well as broaden the scope of what the Ridge Racer name means. Like I said, there’s a lot riding on Unbounded, and I’ll be curious to see its impact on the future of Ridge Racer if it actually pays off.

Staff
#1 Posted by Ryan (1263 posts) -

They won’t say it in so many words, but the folks at Namco have a lot riding on Ridge Racer Unbounded. Though its long-running arcade racer has maintained a strong enough fan base to support some 20-odd titles over the past 18 years, there’s little question that the waters have grown stagnant. People just aren’t excited about Ridge Racer like they used to be--just ask Kaz Hirai.

So, good on Namco for showing a little stone and bringing in Finnish developer Bugbear to mix things up with Ridge Racer Unbounded, a game that bears little resemblance to a traditional Ridge Racer game beyond shiny cars going fast. Bugbear has plenty of experience with racing games, and from the one race I’ve had a chance to play so far, the influence of the destructive, rubbin’-is-racin’ philosophy of Bugbear’s FlatOut series is palpable. (Ridge Racer purists who are already sobbing openly and burning their Reiko Nagase bodypillows, chill: Namco assures us that a proper Ridge Racer 8 is still on the way.) Players are encouraged to fill up a power meter with clean, risky driving, then use that power to smash through walls and take out competing drivers. By virtue of the FlatOut connection, it’s easy to then draw comparisons between Unbounded and the Burnout games, as well as other derivatives like Split/Second. To this end, Unbounded, at least in its current state, doesn’t have the same level of visual pop as either of those, and the handling model is still in the process of being tuned, though the potential's clearly there.

What Unbounded does bring to the table, though, is its city creator, which Namco and Bugbear are showing off now for the first time. At its most basic, this is a track editor that presents you with a grid, lets you pick from pre-fab track sections that come in a few different flavors, chain them together into a track of your own design, and then share them with the community. Though the pre-fab track parts don’t provide for much detailed track-crafting, an advance mode will allow you to specifically place obstacles and explosive objects, and the end results look virtually indistinguishable from what we’ve seen so far of the dense, urban, developer-built tracks the game will ship with. The number of unique tiles that Bugbear will produce for the final game, as well as the number of tiles players will be able to use in a single track, are still up in the air, and both seem like real make-or-break factors for the success of this feature.

With its current, vague 2012 release date, Bugbear seems to have plenty of time to do that work, and assuming that the fundamentals gameplay comes together, Unbounded has the potential to fill the current void of crash-happy, high-impact arcade racing games, as well as broaden the scope of what the Ridge Racer name means. Like I said, there’s a lot riding on Unbounded, and I’ll be curious to see its impact on the future of Ridge Racer if it actually pays off.

Staff
#2 Edited by depecheload (495 posts) -

Woooooooooooooooot!

Edit: Holy shit I actually did it.

#3 Posted by CaLe (3910 posts) -

The world was already mine.

#4 Posted by Declarius (180 posts) -

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa brings back memories of FlatOut, I've been spending tons of time on Ultimate Carnage lately and this is is very exciting. It's also on PC so my interest has rocketed

#5 Posted by Shag (27 posts) -
@depecheload said:

Woooooooooooooooot!

Edit: Holy shit I actually did it.

Congrats
#6 Posted by theglobe88 (48 posts) -

It seems that this is still as irrelevant as it's always been. 
 
RIIIIIIDGE RAAAAACER!

#7 Posted by Vexxan (4615 posts) -

I'm king of the world!

#8 Posted by Sinful (211 posts) -

riiiiiiiiiiiiiidge Racer..there im done.

#9 Posted by Manburger (56 posts) -

I enjoyed the Flatouts, so I'm feeling somewhat optimistic about this game. Hope the track-editor is up to snuff, I love me some track editin'.

#10 Posted by BlueKranz (9 posts) -

I always thought of the Ridge Racer series as that game no one has actually played. It only exists in silly PR debacles. "Riiiiiiidge Raaaaacer!!... No? Anyone?"

#11 Posted by Generiko (445 posts) -

yeah! I liked me some Flatout will definitely get this

#12 Posted by fuchikoma (41 posts) -

I feel like RR has been getting worse... 4 was amazing, 5 was broken, 7 is pretty fun... Ridge Racers (PSP) was a lot like 7 and had a lot of replay value for me. Its sequel felt like they just slapped a new title screen on the previous game. Now Ridge Racer 3D is only about slipstreaming while constantly smashing into each other, and having the narrator chatter constantly about how you're slipstreaming, the opponent is slipstreaming, or if you ever get passed "woah, you just got owned!" Also, whoever's behind anyone gets a free pass because slipstreaming is a guaranteed pass - so it's all leapfrog until you get a big lead on them.

I hope RR8 dials it back a bit - the narrator and the slipstreaming, and makes it more about skillfully racing around the tracks. Unbounded? I'm just... not interested. I already have some smash em' up road racing games, and one or two is enough. I play racing games because I like racing... I don't get why they're trying to make RR something it's not, unless the game wouldn't survive without the brand name? It's like a GTA game where you only drive cars, or a Need for Speed game with shootouts... a Mass Effect that's all combat, etc.

#13 Edited by Rapid (1344 posts) -

The city environments remind me of those from the Need for Speed games in the  undercover, Most wanted Era. Maybe its the similar structural design and lighting

#14 Posted by Mordi (553 posts) -

I like Bugbear. I bought FlatOut randomly around when it came out, and I loved that. Mostly because of the ragdoll-olympics part.

#15 Posted by Devoid (429 posts) -

R4 was the last Ridge Racer, as far as I'm concerned.

Hopefully this turns out good. Here's hoping.

#16 Posted by Grilledcheez (3943 posts) -

I'm glad I actually read this article, the game sounds promising

#17 Edited by BlazeHedgehog (1082 posts) -

There is no room in my heart for this game. I am sick to death of racing games set in cities. Urban environments are seriously played out now. I want offroad racing, or something fantastical. Really, somebody needs to bring back Beetle Adventure Racing, or at least something like it. That game had you driving through ancient pyramids, pirate coves, and haunted forests while still keeping its handling model somewhat realistic, and it was AMAZING.
 
Let's see some creative environment design here, people. Stop making boring racing games!

#18 Posted by AgentofChaos (1565 posts) -

@BlazeHedgehog said:

There is no room in my heart for this game. I am sick to death of racing games set in cities. Urban environments are seriously played out now. I want offroad racing, or something fantastical. Really, somebody needs to bring back Beetle Adventure Racing, or at least something like it. That game had you driving through ancient pyramids, pirate coves, and haunted forests while still keeping its handling model somewhat realistic, and it was AMAZING. Let's see some creative environment design here, people. Stop making boring racing games!

I am ALL FOR a comeback of Beetle Adventure Racing.

As for Ridge Racer, do these games even still sell well? I mean after all, there are a litany of excellent racers (or even just racers better than RR).

#19 Posted by MeatSim (10758 posts) -

Kudos for trying something new with the franchise.

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