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Xbox 360 Game Review

Ridge Racer Unbounded


Format: Xbox 360
Namco Bandai Games
RRP: £49.99
3 391891 957847
Age Restrictions: 7+
Available 30 March 2012

The Ridge Racer series takes off in a new direction with Ridge Racer Unbounded. Join the Unbounded team, a group of lawless badass racers, terrorizing the streets of Shatter Bay and expand your ever growing territory. Drive and destroy everything in your path to create new areas that were once off limits. Go online to dominate and race an unlimited supply of user created maps…

The latest in the long-running series of Ridge Racer games, Ridge Racer Unbounded, makes a fair attempt to breathe life into the old franchise. But in an attempt to update the game almost everything has been redesigned. If you're a Ridge Racer fan then you won't recognise this new release. If it's a serious racing game you're after then you won't find what you're looking for here. This is a pick up and play offering with the emphasis focused on fun.

You start off with a number of main menu options ('Dominate Shelter Bay'; 'Dominate the World'; 'Create My Cities'; 'View Progress').

'Dominate Shelter Bay' is where the main offline game play is to be found. Here you have a total of nine locations (all but one of which are locked) and each location has a number of different races. As you race you unlock points which gradually level you up and allow you to unlock new cars, races and locations.

There are a variety of different race types including 'Domination Race' (come in the top three using any means possible - mostly frag your opponents and smashing through hidden shortcuts); 'Frag Attack' (use your truck to destroy pursuing police cars); 'Shindo Racing' (which is a straightforward race) 'Drift Attack' (where you have to drift as much as possible to receive as many points as possible); and 'Time Attack' (where you have to escape the police, collecting icons in a bid to extend your time limit).

To get the best from the game, and your races, you're going to have to get several things right. Firstly your choice of car is important. You start off with a couple of cars to chose from for each race, but as you level up more are unlocked. These all have different attributes (like strength, handling, speed, drifting) and finding one that's right for the course and your playing level is important. Next you'll have to get your power bar full (this will allow you to see and smash through shortcuts, as well as give you a quick burst of speed and allow you to frag your opponents). In order to fill your power metre you can "chase" other cars (get behind them in their slipstream), speed over jumps, frag your opponents, but the easiest way is to drift around corners.

'Dominate the World' allows you to go online and play in 'Quick Match', 'Domination Match' or 'Friend Match' - all of which are pretty self explanatory

In 'Create' you can build your own courses using various building blocks - the more you play the offline game, the more pieces you unlock. This, once you unlock enough elements and spend a bit of time planning, is a really interesting aspect of the game, and allows you to create some pretty interesting race courses. And you can be as anal as you like - from adding little track side detail to turning your course into a stunt track - you can even choose the number of laps, time of day and AI difficulty of the other cars. You can also go online and play other peoples race courses. This is a pretty impressive aspect of the game and well worth investing a bit of time exploring.

The graphics range from being incredibly well detailed (gaze in awe as you frag an opponent and they barrel roll and set on fire before hitting a wall and crumbling) to not so well realised (some of the cars you drive have very unrealistic damage, which makes it look like you're looking at them in a warped mirror). But on the whole the graphics are well above average. The game play can be unfair at times. You can drive perfectly, but be fragged by opponents, or be sent into a spin if you accidentally clip another car, which will ensure you lose the race. And then at other times you can drive carelessly, but luck will be on your side and you'll manage to squeeze ahead of the pack.

On a side note, this is yet another release which attempts to trade off of exclusivity with a "Limited Edition" sales pitch. I don't know what "limited edition" entails (other than the obvious - that every game is limited, you can't have an infinite stock) or how it differs from the standard edition, as the only edition that seems to be available to buy is the "limited edition".

As pick-up-and-play racers go, Ridge Race Unbounded offers a lot that will keep you coming back for more.


Darren Rea

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