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Posted by eddierichards on Mar 14, 2012
Ridge Racer – PS Vita – Namco

Ridge Racer – PS Vita – Namco

I’ve loved this series since the beginning, and however many more games are released in my lifetime, I reckon I always will – but only when they’re done properly. To elaborate, there’s one thing, above all else, that brings me back every time; one thing that a good Ridge Racer game does well, which is give me that certain buzz.

That ‘buzz’ comes from just burning down the road, taking in some sweet scenery and enjoying a few great tunes along the way. Just cruisin’, and forgetting the real world for a while. A good Ridge Racer game always does this for me. I’m at least very happy to say that this latest incarnation does the trick too, and very well; if only there was a full game in there to escape the real world for a reasonable amount of time.

With or without extra downloadable content added, you’re getting little more here than a demo. A terrible tally of 5 cars, and 3 courses to race on, as standard. All courses can be raced in reverse, I suppose, but it’s still only three courses. After checking out PSN (SEN), I’ve now got a few more cars and one more track. Most generous, Namco.

The store also offered music from past games (unsurprisingly), and a few new ones, too but no matter what, I feel absolutely cheated. And I got Ridge Racer for free with the Vita.

It also has to be said that there is very little content here that is brand new. I know all four courses from RR7 on PS3, for a start. There are some new tunes which I really loved listening to (‘Virtuoso’ does it for me every time), but besides that, it’s all about ‘Team Vision’ mode. I’ll get to that in a sec.

Anyway, upon starting the game everything is very nicely presented, very glossy and smartly-dressed. You’d be forgiven for thinking it looks like a lot of work is imminent. It is, kinda… But in a sly manner. The snazzy menu screen appears absolutely bursting at the seams with things to see and do. However, you soon realise that most of what is available are pages full of statistics, based on the performance of you and others worldwide. As for the game itself, you have these 3 (4 if you have downloaded the extra one) tracks to race around, earning credits with which to upgrade your car’s performance level. To do this you’ll just keep racing, and racing, and… well, racing. Slightly reminiscent of Rage Racer on PS1, but without the meat behind it to warrant bothering in the first place. Within an hour, I was wondering ‘Why am I doing this?’

Other than that, it’s all an online affair. Essentially all Ridge Racer Vita is, is the online portion of what should be a far bigger package. You can place fast times and upload your ghost for others to compete against and so on. Plus there is the aforementioned ‘Team Vision’ mode.

Team Vision mode means you select a team and race in said team’s honour. The aim being to beat the other three teams which in turn are represented by other players worldwide. You are tasked with beating the other teams in events every day. And… well… little else happens. That’s it!

Moving on swiftly. The graphics are top-notch, unsurprisingly. There are some very neat lighting and blurring effects mid-race, not seen in any Ridge Racer  title before it (including PS3), which are always nice to look at. A few nice new tunes have been added – all of which are the usual digital, fast-paced (and full of bass) ridge racer fare. Plus you can now choose between a male or female version of the annoying DJ in the background.

The game itself flies along just as it should. The sense of speed is amazing and activating your nitrous tanks is kinda scary! The A.I. competition present a challenge too. They’ll always catch you napping. Although, to be fair, a lot of that comes down to how well your vehicle performs as eventually, races crop up where you don’t stand much of a chance until the next upgrade.

As mentioned earlier, I got the base game for free and I still feel cheated. In stores it sells for £20, or £17 via PSN (SEN); either way, spending money on this is ill-advised and I say this as a die-hard fan of the series. I can only hope more courses show up, over time. But even if they do, the fact that all four so far are nothing new, I won’t be holding my breath for ‘Seaside Route 765’ AGAIN.

Outside of online challenges, you just pick a car… and a track… and race… and upgrade… til you get bored.

Funny thing is, what IS here is so much more fun and more exhilarating than anything in the recent 3DS shocker. So I know I’ll be playing it for some time yet. But that’s me. My love of the buzz is the only reason this game stayed on my memory card for longer than two hours.

Yet at the same time, half the reason I’ll play it as much as I will, will be in a vain attempt to not feel so gutted about the lack of ridge to race upon. If there were a full game here, I’d rate Ridge Racer on PSVita much higher than I am about to. As it stands, this is a money-grabbing joke.


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