|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Bugbear Entertainment|
|Pub: NAMCO Bandai|
|Release: March 6, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
The Ridge Racer series has been on life support for quite a long time. Like many other games in the automotive genre, it got itself stuck in a rut, and, much to fans' frustration, new releases started coming out with less and less fresh features. However, NAMCO Bandai has wisely gone back to the drawing board with this franchise, and the effects look to be pretty awesome.
Just to prove exactly how committed they are to making a brand new Ridge Racer experience, the folks at NAMCO Bandai have enlisted the help of a completely new developer, Bugbear Entertainment, to handle development. If the name sounds familiar, it is because this European developer is responsible for the sometimes-remembered Flatout series, as well as the stellar remake of SEGA Rally Revo a few years back. They have a history of doing things a little differently, and their fresh take on Ridge Racer Unbounded looks like it will be developed in the same vein. Sure, the game will have the same name you remember and perhaps some of the same driving elements, but if you look under the hood, this baby is all-new.
So what exactly can we expect from this new take on an old game? First up, Ridge Racer Unbounded will have a huge focus on creating custom content. Though plenty of automotive games give you the ability to design and customize tracks, Unbounded will give players an unprecedented amount of control, not only over track designs, but also over booby traps and decorative elements along the way. If you want to create a dead man's curve where one wrong move gets you blown sky-high by road mines, then you can build it.
And the good news is that if you decide to build an ultra-destructive track, you can expect some sweet crash physics to go with it. Ridge Racer Unbounded is going to have its own dynamic impact engine that will make every bump, bruise, or head-on smash look unique. Though excellent crash physics are something we've all come to expect from modern automotive games, it's good to see Ridge Racer is finally getting up to speed.
Another feature that has been a long time coming is online multiplayer. Though the game has been confirmed to only support twelve players per race (a little low if you ask me) it's still great that players will finally be able to jump online and be part of the action. Though there has been no mention of track sharing, I would hope that this online feature will be part of the overall set as well so players can swap and play through new tracks on a regular basis without wading through expensive DLC. Of course, the overall success of any online mode will depend on the interface. Many games that have had extensive modes and sharing interfaces have stumbled due to poor organization and non-user-friendly UIs. We haven't really seen much of the online interface just yet, but hopefully it won't be an issue at release time.
Though the multiplayer is likely to be the focus of Ridge Racer Unbounded 's new content, single-player fans will also have a good time with the game's redesigned solo mode. The idea behind Unbounded is that each player has a city to control, and they'll have to do some serious management with the help of fantasy-inspired cars. You won't see a Porsche or Ferrari coming down the pike in this game, but if you are looking for a car called "The Devil," Ridge racer has you covered.
Ridge Racer Unbounded looks like it is going to be a huge departure from the series at large, and that's definitely a good thing. Though longtime fans may be a little nervous about these changes, I think they've been a long time coming, and NAMCO Bandai is wise to use the nostalgia value of an old series within the context of an all-new game. This isn't Ridge Racer 8, but it sure looks like it will be fun when it launches this spring.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: January 19, 2012