It just doesn’t feel like a bona fide PlayStation platform until I see a Ridge Racer title. I’m not sure why…maybe it’s because it was one of the first games I ever played on the original PlayStation, or maybe because Ridge Racer 7 was a launch title for the PS3. There’s just something about this series; a certain flair that I can’t find anywhere else, even in highly accomplished franchises like Need for Speed and Burnout.
Therefore, I have to say I’m excited about the new series entry for the Vita. This new portable Ridge Racer should be available right around the Vita launch date (February 22 for North America and Europe), and the media we’ve seen is awfully impressive. Brilliant, rich visuals allow all the previewed tracks to burst off the screen and the accompanying soundtrack is invigorating and appropriate. The only problem: three tracks and five cars. …seems a little thin, no?
Still, Namco is really shooting for the ultimate in handheld immersion, as they’re pushing the technical capabilities of the Vita and giving racing fans a meticulously created and endlessly entertaining on-the-go experience. Online play will also be readily available; although we’re not sure which modes will be ready to go come February. We do know that the game will feature Spot Race, World Race (multiplayer fun), and Time Attack. Spot Race has you up against 7 opponents, which seems to be the default option, and Time Attack is exactly as it sounds.
You’ll also be able to customize your ride. You’ll be able to alter the paint job right off the bat, for instance, although we’re not sure if mechanical upgrades will be part of the gameplay. As for the latter, you can expect lots of arcade-y goodness, like a crazy emphasis on drifting (and drafting), and particularly demanding circuits. However, the idea behind this product is questionable: the game should be offered at a cheaper price; hence, the lack of content. Later DLC is supposed to flesh it out.
Unfortunately, we keep hearing that such DLC only consists of more cosmetic upgrades and extra music tracks; nothing to really hold our interest and enhance the gameplay. However, we’d like to give Ridge Racer some time, as the developers might finally start delivering more tracks and cars. For only three tracks and five cars, regardless of how good the racing is, we’re still gonna need more stuff. I will always love the RR style and everything but let’s not encourage this practice of gimping games, only to be expanded upon at a later date.
Definitely not something I want to see.
1/17/2012 Ben Dutka