SYSTEM
PSX

PRICE
$49.99

DEVELOPER
Namco

PUBLISHER
Namco

RELEASE
05/99

Ridge Racer Type 4 Review

By: John Doe


Namco fights back with a killer arcade racing experience that is beautiful, flawless and one great racing game. Concerned less with real world physics then Gran Turismo, R4 can be picked up and played by anyone due to awesome tight and responsive controls. As usual for a Ridge Racer game the amount of tracks is a downer but mirror mode does tend to help out. Throw in 300+ cars, a story mode and the original RR in 60 fps and you've got a game you'll have to spend some serious time with.


Highs:
Lows:

Namco fights back with a killer arcade racing experience that is beautiful, flawless and one great racing game. Concerned less with real world physics then Gran Turismo, R4 can be picked up and played by anyone due to awesome tight and responsive controls. As usual for a Ridge Racer game the amount of tracks is a downer but mirror mode does tend to help out. Throw in 300+ cars, a story mode and the original RR in 60 fps and you've got a game you'll have to spend some serious time with.

The first game I ever played for PlayStation was Ridge Racer. From the moment I turned that on and played it, I new I was playing the next generation. That was 4 years ago and of course racing games have improved a million fold. One look at Gran Turismo or R4 will tell you that. However, to compare R4 to GT is unfair as they are both wildly different in their vision and handling. R4 is first and foremost an arcade racer. GT is a driving simulation that makes you earn licenses, drive real world vehicles etc. The one complaint most often heard is that GT is too hard. Well, for those people who can't get into the realism of GT, then turn your attention to this attractive little beauty from Namco. Be warned though, as great looking as it is, it still has some of those Ridge Racer faults.

The game starts off with a beautiful intro from Namco focusing entirely on the Ridge Racer gal, old what's-her-name-there, and I for one thought , "Who gives a crap? She's like the flag girl. So what?" Talk about desperate for a mascot for Ridge Racer. It's a racing game for goodness sakes. Sure she's good looking for a bunch of polygons, but what's the attraction? Is she the Vanna White of video games or what? Anyway once this passes then it's on to the fun stuff.

Playing the Grand Prix mode is the way to go. You'll have to pick a car from four different fictional manufacturers (no real cars, sorry…although some bear a resemblance) and then join one of four racing teams. When you join the team you are treated like a rank amateur and must earn your respect by winning of course. The GP offers up 3 different Heats. The first 2 heats consist of two races each and the Final Heat features 4 races. You must place in order to continue. If you do lose, you are given 4 continues to try your skill again. Do well and you may earn a new vehicle from your racing team, depending on how financially stable they are. At the very least they'll upgrade your wheels for you. Win the entire GP and you'll get to keep your new set of wheels. It will be stored in The Garage where you can store it while collecting the other 320 cars to drive.

Each team you join has a different manager and you'll enter into a little story mode while playing. This was a great idea that was well implemented. It kept the interest up without ever being annoying. If you've played through a few times you can skip the melodrama and just get to the racing if you wish.

Out of the 4 car manufacturers vehicles, two are Drift cars and two are Grip cars. This differs how the cars handle around turns and thus you must adjust your driving when racing with a car you aren't used to. Once you get the hang of either you'll be taking 90-degree turns like a pro. If you don't make the turn and you crash into a wall, you won't see any damage. That would have been a nice touch considering Namco wasn't licensing real vehicles (who would never allow their cars to look damaged in a game), but I guess to keep with the fast paced arcade feel they decided against it. I played this game with the good old dual shock (actually 2...I bust one when I kept losing. How very mature of you Mr. Adult. Hey that's the first controller I've broken in years, so get off my back. I didn't even huck the thing which was my usual M.O. (Modus Operandi = method of operations). I just smashed it's mocking little "all-the-cars are-too-fast-for-me" retarded face into the arm of the couch and bust the left analog control. Talk about road rage... Anyway enough of my True Confessions. The game supports Namco's JogCon which is a small steering wheel device. It probably works great, but sounds expensive. I'll stick to smashing Dual Shocks thank you very much.

R4 places you on 8 tracks at all times of day. 3 of those tracks share road space with other tracks so some parts may look familiar. Play those tracks in mirror mode and you end up with 16 tracks which isn't bad. In fact, I found I preferred some of the reverse tracks to their counterparts. The tracks themselves are very well designed and offer many a roadside challenge. The night tracks are generally well lit and will only have you in the dark for a short period of time. I personally hate night driving in games, but R4 wasn't a pain at all.

You can't mention the tracks without gushing about their beauty. These are hands down the nicest looking tracks I've seen yet. They even beat GT. The game runs at a solid 30 fps (it wouldn't run in 60 fps with all of the detail Namco wanted to include) and it's a real smooth ride. Once you get the knack of those drifts, earn a kick ass vehicle you'll be a dot on the horizon.

R4's biggest downfall is in your opponents AI. They tend to drive in patterns so that once you are used to a track, you'll know that car number 5 will be at this turn at such and such a time. This has always been a problem with the Ridge Racer series and it's time Namco did something about it. Remember though, that it takes awhile to get to know this. This isn't going to affect your game right off the bat. You'll have to spend some time on the same track to understand what I'm talking about. Of course when playing against a human opponent in two player mode things really heat up because of the unpredictability.

Musically R4 is top notch. I enjoyed every tune. No it doesn't affect gameplay much but good music is good music. The engine sound effects are good although each car sounds the same to me. As well it would have been nice to have real voices during the story mode in Grand Prix but that's for next time.

Complaint Dept. Aside from the AI which really needs attention R4 does a very good job at everything. Playing for all of those cars (321) is unnecessary as far as I'm concerned, except for the ultimate cool cars like the PAC Man car and the HoverCraft car. As well the option to alter your cars appearance has remained and although a cool extra, won't really be something to shout about until you can texture map your own logos or face into the game (PSX2 perhaps?). Oh actually, the real downer of the game was the weak endings in Grand Prix mode. Where were the CG endings? This is Namco isn't it? I expected a helluva lot more from them then watching some phony highway flash by while the character kept tossing beer cans out the window. Okay that last part didn't happen… But the endings were weak-o-riffic.

Playing the original Ridge Racer in 60 fps will probably only appeal to those of us who have played the original way back when. It's a good game though and looks nice and spiffy flying by at 60 fps. Don't forget to shoot all of the spaceships at the loading screen for more cars...

This is a great racing package that will earn it's own spot in your collection along side GT and GT2 (when it's released of course). Arcade games didn't look or play this good a couple of years back and that's something. Aside from the plethora of cars, R4 may not have tons of replay value for the casual racing fan but it will certainly entertain you for a lot longer than a 3 day rental at Blockbuster. Buy it and check out that amazing intro of old-what's-her-face." She's pretty hot for an extremely complex mathematical equation. You can tell her I said that.

OVERALL
9.0

GRAPHICS
9.5

CONTROL
9.0

MUSIC/FX
8.0

FRUSTRATION
4.0

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