XBOX 360 REVIEW: RIDGE RACER 6

If you're looking to race Porsches and Ferraris, fuggedaboutit. The Ridge Racer Auto Mall doesn't stock those kinds of vehicles. You'll start off with Class one cars with such Namco-esque names as Age Toy Pop Prophetie and Kamata Sky Kid Fiera and eventually work up to Class 4 vehicles and even some extra Special class vehicles. There are several car models to choose from in any given class and each will support either one of three Drifting models as mentioned previously. While this will undoubtedly turn off simulation racing purists, let me just say that those kinds of gamers are about as welcome in a Ridge Racer game as a born again Christian in a porno shop. If you don't like this kind of thing, don't come in! We don't need to hear about how RR isn't "real" and that PGR3, Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport are for hardcore racing fans. We know that and we know that the physics found within RR is completely insane. None of us believe that any vehicle could take a corner at a 45 degree angle (facing the opposite direction even!) but we enjoy the challenge that every RR game brings to the table. Ridge Racer is a completely unique racing experience and there is no arguing that. As I said, you either get it or you do not. There is no inbetween.

The World Xplorer mode is where you'll race hundreds of different races based on the same 15 tracks (30 if you count the same tracks reversed) and log thousands on your virtual speedometer. You'll start off with some basic races to cut your teeth on (even though #7 can be a real pain unless you run an almost flawless race...make sure you get that Rocket Start!) You can race one at a time or select subsequent races as long as they are in the same zone to save having to go back to the Xplorer mode screen after each race. As you work your way up the honeycomb shaped race screen, you will be able to unlock certain prizes if you happen to successfully complete (by coming in first place) all of the races that comprise a section. Some of the prizes include new cars, the ability to change car color and more. As well, Namco is up to their old tricks with the loading screen arcade games. I'll let you go over to the codes page to figure that out. Most races are against 13 CPU other opponents, however throughout the World Xplorer mode you'll encounter a few variations including Duel races (one on one) and races where the use of Nitrous isn't allowed (or altered in some way).

Those who have played the PSP version of Ridge Racer will recognize some of the same tracks and have a leg up on those who haven't. Although some of the tracks have been featured in the PSP version, RR fans are sure to recognize homages paid to past tracks. These courses aren't quite exactly classic tracks but just close enough to be semi-familiar yet remain challenging. Racing the same tracks in reverse is a great way to milk excellent course design and I have to say that these tracks in RR6 were developed with that in mind. There wasn't any track I found particularly suited for one direction (which I have in the past) and I found playing both forward and reverse of the same track equally as challenging and entertaining.

"Namco delivered a great racing title that is easy to play and yet hard to master..."

Single Race mode allows you jump in and tackle any race you want to for extra practice while Global Time Attack pits you against the ghosts of better Ridge Racers than you. It requires the use of online, but if you're serious about this little arcade racer you can use it as an educational tool. Simply locate the track you want to race, select the class and vehicle. Check out the top ranked racers for each track and class, download the ghost of the one you want to beat and try to do just that. Heck you might even be downloading my hottest runs as I'm currently holding a few first place spots, but sorry, I can't tell you my username or I'll get flooded with Friend requests and invites. If you're having trouble beating the ghost, watch the replay of it for tips as to when you should use drift, when to use Nitrous etc. You'd be surprised at how much you can actually learn.

The head to head online mode features a variety of different ways to plug in. Set up your own match or join one ready to go, (up to 14 players online) just be sure to see if the options selected are ones you're okay with. Also since all classes are unlocked online, you might find yourself stuck racing against Class 4 machines even though you haven't had any experience driving them. That's just the luck of the draw. If you can't find a race that suits you, as the saying goes "Built it and they will come." I created one and within 30 seconds, I had a flock of 8 trying to get in on some racing action. There have been many complaints regarding lag and choppiness online and I didn't have any. It was literally flawless. If you do have find the lag insufferable, it seems the problem stems from having your Xbox 360 connected to your PC (for playing tunes, media etc.) Visit the Xbox 360 dashboard and disconnect any connections between your PC/Media Center and your system. That should clear up that nasty problem.

Running at a glossy 60FPS online and offline certainly gets your attention. While it might not have the same visual oomph in terms of details and polygon count as PGR3 (which only runs at 30 FPS), you can't deny that RR6 is a looker. Races take place at various times of day and therefore you'll have to contend with either bright sun, dusk or night, The night levels take place in the city which are lit up with street lighting and therefore are very easy to navigate. I often find night levels the hardest to play in racing games thanks to my aging eyesight, but RR6 makes it a pleasure. Not once did I have to guess at which direction the upcoming curve was.

Equally as impressive are the excellent original songs recorded specifically for RR6, which from what I can tell are all new, even though they sound very similar to previous soundtracks. I didn't hear what I thought were remixes of previous songs, but I haven't played an RR game for awhile. Since the music is hard to define, much like the series itself you're either going to love it or hate it with a passion. You already know how I feel about it. Thje same is also true for the RR6 announcer who might possibly grate on your nerves. Personally I enjoy having someone tell me when I'm doing great - gives me a little boost, you know? - but his stock sayings do tend to get a little on the old side.

For many years I've considered R Type 4 the pinnacle of the Ridge Racer series, and it still might be - I haven't played it for a very long time now. However due to great track design, 60 FPS, high res support and ability to go online the added benefits of RR6 cannot be ignored. It's not getting as much attention or hype due to PGR3 and Need For Speed: Most Wanted but it's definitely making an impact with fans of the series who already own X360's. Namco delivered a great racing title that is easy to play and yet hard to master and all I have to say is now that this review is done, I'm heading back online!

By Vaughn Smith
CCC Site Director

Rating out of 5
Ridge Racer 6 (Xbox 360)
4.4
Graphics
Yeah PGR3 looks better in terms of details and polygons, but you've gotta love 60 FPS offline and on!
4.6
Control
Arcade racing doesn't get better than this.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
I took half a point off due to the announcer for your sake, but I love the RR tunes.
4.8
Online
Now that the online lag has been fixed for those with the problem, there should be no excuses. Play against the world, ghosts of the fastest racers or simply watch. Did I mention 60 FPS online?
4.2
Play Value
Tons of races but they're repeated over and over, even online. Still there is a lot to do but only for those who are willing to go the distance.
4.6
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
2
Preview by Staff

Leading video games developer and publisher Namco Hometek Inc. today announced Ridge Racer) 6. Developed for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, Ridge Racer 6 takes full advantage of the new platform’s capabilities with in-depth multiplayer functionality, unprecedented vehicle control and immersive sound and visual effects to provide the most adrenaline-rich arcade driving experience yet.

In Ridge Racer 6, the classic Namco franchise returns with more speed, excitement and gameplay variety than ever before. Players enter a world of high-definition, high-speed races and can choose to challenge others or take control of the wheel alone in a variety of on and offline modes. Online compatibility lends to features such as Vs. Battles and downloadable content, further enhancing the game’s replayability to make Ridge Racer 6 an unforgettably immersive experience.

“'Ridge Racer 6' was designed with the next generation of hardware in mind and truly harnesses the power of the Xbox 360 to bring the most satisfying gameplay experience to our fans,” said Yoshi Niki, Business Unit Director with Namco Hometek Inc. “'Ridge Racer 6' promises to deliver the highest level of intensity and fun to Namco’s top drift racing franchise.”

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Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best