My Procrastinated Comparative Review: Ridge Racer Unbounded
In my attempt to remain up-to-date and current with today’s kids, I shall review a recently played game in Ridge Racer: Unbounded, BugBear’s 2012 attempt at the Ridge Racer series. Switchback! Maybe you’ll be able to tell when I become unenthused…
The Ridge Racer franchise has been around for a while, and has really only changed development hands and platforms, while remaining true to its drift racing formula. Unbounded doesn’t fix that which is not broken, but tries to mix it up.
You may be familiar with BugBear’s previous franchise: FlatOut, and Unbounded actually feels a lot like Flatout’s handling and levels of destruction, not so much the drifting. Flatout had nice smooth drifting; Ridge Racer’s drifting is ugghhhh!…(press B to drift). Additionally, the game takes a lot of hints from Black Rock Studio’s Split/Second arcade racer.
As mentioned earlier, BugBear is the team charged with putting new energy into the stale Ridge Racer series. Adding to the series’ past of fast drifting tracks with sleek unlicensed cars, Unbounded brings BugBear’s expertise of destruction and derby combat. Unbounded focuses on city streets which get torn up with 12 racers focusing on becoming first. The cities also feature destructible events not unlike Split/Second, but not to the same extent – basically special walls that act as shortcuts, and some explosive objects to assist with fragging some opponents. The track’s overlays also seem to be borrowed from Split/Second with most of the HUD actually displayed on the track – along the walls, letting the player know how far behind or ahead, and number of laps remaining. Nice touches if not a little imitated.
The Domination mode is the main focus – racing to be first across the finish line, by taking out your opponents along the way, but the 63 different race events offered in this title also included Time-Trials, straight up Races, Drift events, and Frag Attacks (take out as many cars as you can in the time allotted). Again, a lot of these gameplay styles you’ll find in Split/Second. The game offers a (now ghost-town) multiplayer mode, and a deep track creator that allows you to share your cities online.
The AI is fine, just fine – if not a little rubber-banded when the player is falling behind, but the main gripe would be the car physics and race mode repetition.
Unbounded’s maps feature city streets and frustrating side alleys and store fronts to mess your car’s face right up. It’s not always clear what walls and street debris with prove a hindrance, and you can’t simply reset your car through a quick controller face button like most arcade racer’s offer. Your car CAN occasionally show some level of damage detail, but it’s not always clear how close you are to eating asphalt, until the car behind you gives you a nudge, sending your spiraling.
Another gripe with the physics has to do with the actual takedowns and traveling through the many destructible event spectacles themselves. The player is subjected to a nice slow motion capture of the damage we’re harvesting; this is nice when it doesn’t result in our car being slammed into the next adjacent wall as soon as we regain control. It happens enough to warrant mentioning.
All being said, the game is a fun flashy arcade racer, despite its issues. If you’ve played either FlatOut or Split/Second you’ll have fun here. Plenty of maps and races to keep the player occupied, added gameplay modes offer some spice, and the game does give the player the illusion of change with the vehicle choices, but they all just seem very stylized versions of current muscle cars, they all drive forward the same, assuming you’re competent enough to not end up backwards as you drift around the map at impossible angles.
Tail Chaser (Get 35,000 m/yd of total Chasing) – 15G
Litterbug (cause $10,000 worth of collateral damage in one race) – 15