With every PlayStation launch comes with a Ridge Racer release, but this time things are different. We have a new developer, Cellius, and a new business model for the series, customisability. However, this new take feels incoherent with the legacy of the series, not only that but makes the game feel slightly rushed.This ability to customise Ridge Racer stems from the DLC concept that the game is now based on; providing you with three tracks and five cars out of the box, with the option to increase the capacity of tracks and cars available with paid for content later down the line. Whether this was down to the game being rushed out in time to meet the Vita’s launch or intended, we don’t know.
The menu system that you are first greeted with is a long sliding menu that you use the touchscreen to flick along; this is where you are shown that things are different with this take on Ridge Racer. No longer is there a campaign single player, instead Namco have integrated everything you do into the world of Ridge Racer. Races are placed into three sections: World Race, Spot Race and Time Attack.
World Race subdivides into three options, Ghost Battle, Online Battle and Face-to-Face Battle. Ghost Battle lets you race against a downloaded ghost. In this mode, you get the option to pick a default ghost and try to beat the time. There is also an online ghost, allowing you to scroll through a list of players and select an opponent to race against (this is limited to the tracks and cars that you own) and finally there is an option to search your local area for players to race against. Spot Races are the closest you get to a single player game mode, as you can select a track and a car then race against AI controlled opponents. Finally, Time Attack lets you race solo trying to set the best lap times you can on each of the three tracks then you can upload the times to the leaderboard. This style of game play works well in the portable environment allowing for short burst like gameplay as well as sustained racing if required.
There is a global online tallying system that logs points for each of the four teams of the game. Upon start-up you are asked to select a team, with the points earned in every race you complete adding to the total score that team has, the higher the team ranks the better the unlocks you get. In addition, you can earn credits which allow you to buy new parts for your motor in-game (though there will probably be some component parts added to the DLC scope), some of which can make the world of difference to your racing. Early on I found myself struggling to place in the top three of some of the races, but some simple modifications meant that I achieved at least third in most races.
One in the thick of the action, the cars handle surprisingly well. With each one feeling solid. Each of the cars drift and lace through corners smoothly, if you are feeling some drag or heaviness to the cars there is a convenient slider that can be manoeuvred to suit your style.
Thanks to a day one patch the game is now locked to 30 frames per second, which smooth’s out the graphics nicely after the choppy performance previously (Be warned that the patch is a pretty big one, clocking in at just over 300MB) . For what you get in the pack the tracks are strong contenders; they are from previous entries in the series but Namco has picked some excellent tracks to bring to the Vita. Each of track offers something a little different and shows off the graphical power of the Vita nicely.
For a launch game it would have been great to see Ridge Racer in the 60 FPS mark, but we can’t have everything. What you do get may seem a little skimpy but for a fairly low budget price it isn’t that bad at all. For Cellius’ first project it Ridge Racer is a strong title, the only question is whether the DLC/customise model will work within the current climate.
Rating: GoodReview Policy(version tested: PS Vita)
You can order your copy of Ridge Racer from ShopTo here.