Chris Sell
28 Mar, 2006

Ridge Racer 6 Review

360 Review | Riiiiiiiiidge Raaaaceeeeeer!
The Ridge Racer series has traditionally been a key title in Sony’s camp over the years showing up for the PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PSP launches. This time out Ridge Racer 6 makes its debut on Microsoft’s Xbox 360. But with strong competition already available on the 360, will it have the same impact?

Ridge Racer’s biggest selling point has always been its drift-orientated handling physics, and Ridge Racer 6 doesn’t disappoint here. As with the past games, simply releasing the accelerator, turning, then reapplying the gas will initiate a slide. Initially unwieldy, you soon learn how to control it and will be sliding your way around tight hairpins without a second thought. Anyone who has played the PSP incarnation of Namco’s classic racing game will know what to expect because they share remarkably similar control. There are 3 classes of car that each have a slightly different feel to them. ‘Normal’ cars obviously offer standard drifting. ‘Mild’ vehicles are easier to drift controllably but have a lower top speed. On the opposite side of that the ‘Dynamic’ cars are very easy to slide but can reach higher top speeds. Each person will favour one type over the others, there’s no dominant style to use so whatever you pick is merely down to personal preference as to what you’re most happy in using.

Ridge Racer 6 retains the triple nitro boost system that debuted in the PSP version, but evolves the idea further. Instead of just being able to use three single nitro boosts, you can now store them for double or triple boosts which have progressively higher top speeds than the one before it. Your boost gauge is filled up simply by drifting at high speeds. The faster you go into a slide the quicker your nitro meter will fill up. This gives Ridge Racer an added depth as not only do you have to balance when to slide and when not to in order to earn the speed boosts, you have to learn the tracks more than you would in a normal racing game. Not only have you got the racing line to master, you also have to consider where the most effective places to use your speed boosts are. Because the amount of nitro you gain is directly related to your speed, finishing a boost as you go into a corner gives you what is called the ‘ultimate charge’. Here it’s possible on some corners to, assuming your nitro is ending at the right moment, to fill up your meter straight away. Learning the tracks with this in mind is key to mastering the second half of the game.

The nitro boost system from the PSP version returns better than ever.

The nitro boost system from the PSP version returns better than ever.
While we’re on the subject of tracks, Ridge Racer 6 contains a large handful of beauties with only a couple of forgettable courses. The fifteen tracks, which include reverse versions technically doubling the total such is the difference of racing them backwards, are largely a mix from other titles in the series. ‘Harborline 765’ especially is a blatant tribute to the original Ridge Racer track we all know and love with its winding mountain roads and route along the beach. The rest are as equally picturesque and filled with all the twisting turns and sweeping corners that are so ideally suited to Ridge Racer’s carefree handling physics. There are even a few tracks that contain rather large jumps, which are somewhat a rarity in the series but certainly welcome.

Along with the usual single race and time trial modes you would expect, the meat of Ridge Racer lies within the ‘World Explorer’ mode. Here you’re presented with a large grid with over 100 races on it. Using the grid you select the route you would like to take and compete in those events. The game starts you off in the slower Class 1 cars where the game fails to impress due to the lack of speed these vehicle posses. But once the initial few races are out of the way, things soon speed up and by the time you’re using the Class 3 and 4 cars the game becomes blindingly quick. It’s a shame the same can’t be said of the opponent AI who really don’t offer much of a challenge until you’re around 10 hours into the game. Many times throughout the various races you’ll be in 1st position by the end of the first lap. Fortunately, when the first half of the World Explorer mode is complete, the game opens the expert routes and it’s like the AI has suddenly been turned on because there are no easy rides from here on in. This is what Ridge Racer is all about, pushing you to your limits, forcing you to learn every intricacy and nuance of each track to perfection. It’s just a shame that the game takes so long to really get going, especially as the lack of challenge somewhat highlights the fact that 15 tracks isn’t quite enough. Doing the same track for the 8th time in just a slightly faster car wouldn’t be so bad if the AI made things more interesting, but when I’m no Ridge Racer expert and have 1st place sewn up less than half way through a race something isn’t right.

Of course, AI isn’t a problem when it comes to online racing, something that you can do in Ridge Racer 6 with up to 14 players. The lobby system is well designed, the netcode is impressively smooth while the races are always fast and frantic. In fact, given the style of Ridge Racer it actually suits online play more than a lot of other racing games. Collisions rarely result in any needless crashes, something that Project Gotham Racing 3 suffers from badly, while being hit from behind by another car will actually result in a small temporary speed boost which all makes for a surprisingly solid online portion. There are also online scoreboards for all your time trial times too.

It wouldn't be Ridge Racer without a tunnel.

It wouldn't be Ridge Racer without a tunnel.
Visually, Ridge Racer 6 is certainly a strange one. While the car models are overly simple and the game in general lacks the immense detail and clever lighting effects that the likes of Project Gotham Racing 3 have, it still somehow manages to look rather tasty. Firstly, the game is very clean. Textures are sharp and track side geometry is crisp and tidy. Secondly, the game runs at 60fps making the whole thing run as smooth as you could ever hope for. In fact, even the seemingly silky smooth Project Gotham Racing 3 feels incredibly odd if you turn it on after a session on Namco’s racing game. But most of all, the credit has to go to the track environments for making Ridge Racer 6 easy on the eye. Because they’re not bound by real life landmarks the developers have let their imagination loose on the track design. From typical coastal routes, to country lanes, Mediterranean villages, night time city events and even races around an airport runway. The scenery is rarely dull with a gigantic bridge, luxury cruise liner or a picturesque waterfall around every corner. It’s noticeable even from the screenshots that the game isn’t as colourful as past titles, but the pastel colour palette suits the style of the game and give it a somewhat unique look.

One things that Ridge Racer has always been praised for are its soundtracks, so it’s a shame that this 360 iteration isn’t quite up to the same quality in this regard as the past games. There’s still a large handful of top tunes in here that get the adrenaline pumping; the Pac-Man themed one being a personal favourite, but overall it’s not as consistently good as say the soundtrack for Ridge Racers on the PSP. On the plus side, the PSP tunes have been appearing for download on the marketplace, albeit at a cost so the option is there for those who don’t mind spending a little more to add their favourite PSP music into the mix. While on the subject of sound it’s worth noting that if you’ve been annoyed by the Ridge Racer race announcer in the past, you’re going to wish you were deaf when you hear the one in Ridge Racer 6. Annoying and immensely cringe worthy, none one could blame you for turning him off in the options immediately. In a rather humourous addition, you can unlock the voice of Heihachi from Tekken to take the race announcing hot seat so it’s not all bad.

In summary, while Ridge Racer 6 will no doubt be heavily overshadowed by the superior Project Gotham Racing 3 and Burnout Revenge, it’s got enough quality about it to not only please fans of Namco’s racing series, but also provide a strong alternative for people looking for more of an old school racing experience. Ridge Racer is all about clever track design, arcade-like handling and lightning fast speeds. Admittedly, it could do with a few more tracks, the AI takes a little too long before becoming challenging and the quality of the soundtrack isn’t quite up there with some of the other Ridge Racer games. But with a huge single player mode, solid multiplayer and online time trial scoreboards there’s plenty for racing game fans to get their teeth stuck into.
The Score
As with any Ridge Racer game, this does exactly what it says on the tin. Although times have changed and the series isn’t the high profile name it used to be, if you want an old school, arcade style sliding, high speed racing game you need not look any further.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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8 years ago
Nice review. I actually enjoyed this more than PGR3 during my little play time with both (mostly multiplayer).
8 years ago
Good review, sounds about right based on what I've heard about the game from general gamers. I'm actually sorta looking forward to getting my hands on this moreso than PGR 3, which is a hard thing to say considering my love for PGR 2. But it's true, mainly because it has been a fairly long time since my last Ridge Racer experience. (Ridge Racer Type 4)
8 years ago
7.5 is a little high in my opinion. I would give it a 7 instead of 7.5
Anyway, it could just be me, I have never like any ridge racer game before.
8 years ago
i want to get this game - it looks great but $120 is a bit too expensive i think.
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