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Ridge Racer Review

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Developer: Namco Publisher: Namco
Release Date: March 24, 2005 Also On: None

Two handheld launches, two Ridge Racers. There is no doubt which version Namco went all-out with. One features dated N64-era graphics with equally archaic gameplay, while the other’s graphics nearly reach PS2 quality, but fall noticeably short in detail, blurring, and sometimes iffy controls.

Let’s start by talking gameplay. Ridge Racer is broken down into different game modes, including Single Race, Time Attack, World Tour, and Wireless. World Tour is where most of your time will be spent playing solo. It is comprised of three tours, each with a certain number of races.

The Basic Tour will start you out with 9 different races, followed by 14 for the Pro Tour, and 16 for the Ex Tour. These races are broken down further into track-stages, varying from as few as two stages to as many as six per race. By completing a stage segment, you will unlock other races and potentially gain a sizable number of unlockable cars.

Once you have entered a stage, you will need to place a certain rank by the end of the race. Each race is contains three laps, with potential length varying from as fast as under a minute, to a lap taking as long as over two minutes. It all depends on the course length, turns, car speed, etc.

Most races require a minimum of third place, though some have lessened that to fourth, while others require either second or first place. First place can prove difficult, since your car will begin each race in the far back behind every car. When there are 12 cars total, and you find yourself in the back of the pack, with your opponents with as much as a 10+ second head-start, you will see what I mean by difficult.

Aiding you in your pursuit of first place are nitro boosts. Taking a page from other racers, Ridge Racer’s nitro boost allows you to gain nitro through a technique known by most as drifting, a swift turning of a corner that leaves a car swerving at its side. Through this, you will gain as many as three nitro boosters, which can be used at anytime.

An important factor when considering any racer are the controls. Ridge Racer, when not fighting your car’s tendency to stick to walls when hit, is a game with solid controls. The analog nub can be used to control the vehicle, as well as the directional pad. The acceleration is X, while nitro is the right trigger. You may also go in and out of first-person if you so choose.

As far as graphics are concerned, need I say more? This is the jewel out of the initial pack of PSP titles. We have seen some games like Spider-Man 2, Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, and Need for Speed Underground Rivals all fall short of their console cousins. Ridge Racer does the same, but it looks much more like a PS2 game than any other game currently on the system. Sure, the first batch of games has shown that the graphical capabilities were over-hyped, but you still have a game that looks far better than other offerings across all handheld platforms.

Ridge Racer is the PSP launch title everyone’s been waiting for. Is it worth buying a PSP for? Of course not, but for owners of the system, it is hard to pass on a game that looks and plays as good as Ridge Racer does. Namco’s Ridge Racer might as well get the official title of “Best PSP Launch Title”.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide