Here is a racing game where causing as much damage to stuff is as important to reaching the finish line. And by destruction, we are not explicitly just referring to the other racers on the track –random environmental elements, walls, pillars, kiosks, statues, fountains, all these and more items you would expect to find in a populated cityscape litter the courses and are all there for you to smash through. As exciting as that idea may be, that is hardly what people would associate with the Ridge Racer title, and yet this is the core of RR: Unbounded’s gameplay. You wreck stuff up while drifting, boosting, or just plainly cruising through the course. And the game rewards you for every second of it.
What is Ridge Racer Unbounded?
Unbounded is the latest installment of Namco Bandai’s Ridge Racer series. What makes this one so different is the fact that the game was not internally developed by the Japanese game developer. Instead, Unbounded was made by Bugbear (who also made Flatout). It is very likely that this decision by Namco was done in order to make RR more appealing to the western market as the series’ key traits are often viewed as hard to accept by players who are used to Gran Turismo, Forza, NFS, and other similar games.
Gone are the old drift mechanics which allow you to constantly switch between drifting and boosting nitro from one end of the course to another. Instead, Unbounded presents players with “grittier” environments, destructive environments, and a gameplay that centers around smashing things up with your car.
How it Plays
The player is one of many racers in Shatter Bay City, and in this city, racing is everywhere. As the player competes in various races and events, they earn money which allows them to get better cars as well as the right to compete in tougher races. The Unbounded refers to a recurring character in the game, Kara Shindo, who is not only one of the best racers in the game, but also the character who is responsible for holding many of the races in the city.
Unbounded is set within a single city –and while this limits the types of backgrounds you get to see, it also allows the game to add in a special feature: editing your own courses. As players progress through the single player mode, this mode expands and allows you to create up to an entire city made of interconnected courses.
Smash Things Up
The most common thing that players will be doing in this game will not be charging straight into first place. Instead, players will have to combine and chain together drifts, takedowns and environment destructions in order to build up boost, which allows for even more destruction. And wrecking stuff up is fun in this game.
From oil tankers, to opponents’ cars, everything in this game is vulnerable to getting smashed up. It does not take long before you train your eyes to easily spot environmental destructibles, and it is so much fun to run into them. Even drifting into a low wall will result in a satisfying shower of bricks and stone as your tail rips right through it.
This is Something Different
The game may be Ridge Racer in title, but with the way it handles smashing into other cars and with the seamless world it provides, it actually feels a lot more like Burnout Paradise. Drifting is now a lot more realistic and courses no longer ridiculous turns that require massive consecutive tight-angle drifts. While these changes will certainly fans for a loop, the inclusion of new content is also amazing: most particularly with the licensed cars. RR has always used fictional cars in order to keep development costs low (no need for licenses), but Unbound features familiar vehicles and an updated system.
As fun as all this is though, the multiplayer features of Ridge Racer Unbounded are very limited, and while the edited track sharing system is wonderful, access to it is not as open as one would wish (the European servers for multiplayer have already been shut down). So if you are planning on getting this, be sure to do it for the single player parts of the game.