Sony recently invited PALGN to its Melbourne offices to showcase the PlayStation 3, which has just launched in America to riots and stabbings. PAL gamers may not be getting the console until next year, but it's hard not to get excited about Sony's powerhouse. One of the first games we had an opportunity to go hands-on with was Ridge Racer 7. No Sony platform has ever launched without a Ridge Racer title, and Namco has delivered once again for the PlayStation 3.
If you've played Ridge Racer 6 then you'll likely feel very comfortable with Ridge Racer 7. You accelerate with X and brake with the square button, and, if you're going at a decent speed then you'll also be able to pull off drifting manouevres on bends. Successfully stringing drift combos together will reward you with nitrous, which can be used sparingly, or all at once. New to Ridge Racer 7 is the slipstream ability. You're able to catch the slipstream of other cars to speed ahead as well.
We were lucky enough to try out a track that wasn't in Ridge Racer 6; Ridge 7 only includes a few new tracks, but it seems that Namco has gone all out to ensure the tracks showcase the graphical capabilities of the PlayStation 3. The track was littered with details, such as little Balinese houses on the side of the track. Something which impressed us was the fact that you could look into the distance without any fog. So on the track we sampled, at one point in the very distance was what appeared to be an Inca statue of sorts. Later on in the track, you actually pass the statue, although this time it's up close. These kinds of small details really make Ridge Racer 7 a visually impressive game. It probably didn't hurt that the game was running at 1080p and was displayed on a new Bravia, but it really is a great showcase of just how grand PlayStation 3 games can look.
When it comes to the final game, in Ridge Racer 7 you'll be able to choose from 40 vehicles and 22 tracks (all of the tracks can be reversed, so if you were really keen you could say there are 44 tracks). A brand new customisation mode has also been included in Ridge 7, which means you can create a machine with 375,000 possible visual customisations and over 7,000 tuning modifications. The tuning capabilities aren't as deep as titles like Juiced or Need for Speed: Carbon, but there are still plenty of things to customise.
In true Ridge Racer fashion, you'll also be able jump online and battle it out in races which support up to fourteen players. If you've gone to the effort of customising a vehicle then you can also take that take online. Ridge Racer 7 will also take advantage of the PlayStation 3's hard drive and you'll be able to download content as it is released. The game also keeps track of your global online ranking.
Overall, Ridge Racer 7 seemed very promising and is likely to be one of the most eye-catching titles of the PS3 launch. The sense of speed that the game provides is just amazing, and catching some slipstream then activating nitrous and flying over a jump while taking first place as you speed towards the finish line is a sublime experience.