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Opinion

Breaking Down Walls With Ridge Racer Unbounded

I've got the power.

The cars, they feel heavy; drifting is weighty and unpredictable; things dent, crumple, explode – Bugbear’s take on the Ridge Racer universe might borrow Namco’s trademark for its tour of Los Angeles-esque Shatter Bay, but it doesn’t feel like a Ridge Racer game. There’s a distinctly Western feel to this slightly peculiar marriage, and it’s clear from the off that there’s absolutely no attempt to try to emulate anything the Japanese studio has output in the past three generations.


The cars look great, modelled on real-life vehicles.
Good, because it doesn’t need to – Unbounded’s approach is a mixture of Need For Speed and Burnout, with obvious nods to Flatout thrown in for good measure – and it works rather well. The handling’s certainly stickier than we’re used to when careering down the straights, but the wildly generous understeer means that the drift button has plenty to do at the corners, an action that no longer sees the car’s tail flip out at the gentlest touch of the brake, instead requiring some force and effort.

Nor, you’ll notice, does Unbounded look like a Ridge Racer game.  Ignoring the iffy aliasing and apparent up-scaling, the Finnish company have managed to wrangle a huge array of special effects out of an engine that also sports twelve cars on screen at once, at 30fps.  Motion blur’s a given, but there’s plenty of smoke and some eye-searing boost trails in amongst all the persistent debris and half destroyed environments.  It’s not an amazing looking game, but it’s a decent enough one.

The main game sees you taking on the city, which is initially locked out with just one area playable.  As you ‘dominate’ events in each area (by placing first, normally) you unlock other districts, as well as levelling up – RPG style – for new cars and track editor parts.  Each area is further broken down into a smattering of races and drift events, the former normally accompanied by wanton destruction and the latter opening up potential for some thrilling driving.

As you powerslide around corners, draft behind opponents and take out sections of the trackside, your power bar increases and once filled can be triggered for a speed boost and temporary invulnerability, letting you perform takedowns on other cars and also smash through otherwise impenetrable sections of the track to reveal short-cuts.  All the while your current position and distance behind or ahead is displayed around the city on walls and buildings, although the default settings also show most of this data on a normal on-screen HUD.


Track design is decent, and the wide courses fit the handling well.
There’s also a track editor available from the off, which is split into normal and advanced sections and uses the main game’s assets as building blocks for your own designs.  You first build up the course via a grid-based system, and then jump into advanced to place objects like jumps and exploding triggers – it’s not quite as flexible as we’d hoped but the track pieces steadily flow as you progress in the single player, the controls are intuitive enough (although I struggled to keep the camera high), you can jump into a quick race at any time and creations can be shared online.

I have to admit to liking Unbounded more than I thought I would.  When I saw it last year at E3 it was an unknown quantity shrouded by enforced mystery and the EGX demo didn’t really show what the game was all about – the full thing, with its progression system and non-linear event choices, is actually well produced and slickly done.  I don’t think anyone’s pretending this is going to set the world on fire, but it’s a well timed tonic for those looking for an arcade racer.

Niggles?  The in-car camera’s far too low (and completely broken in drift events, the game apparently happy enough to present you with the inside of an engine rather than the road ahead), there’s little in the way of a story, the rubber-banding is quite strong and there were a couple of times where I found myself clipping through the tarmac.  But there’s clearly ambition here and where it really counts – the physics and handling – Unbounded’s a nice surprise.

We’ll have the full review soon.

19 Comments
  1. Sympozium
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    No story or sorts then? \o/ Stories in racing should never mix, the result is always awful… or even chavish like Test Drive Unlimited 2, completely put me off.

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 09:26.
  2. Origami Killer
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    The editor looks awesome in the vid, but after reading its not as flexible as it looks im worried.

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 09:44.
    • Crazy_Del
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Me too been thinking of picking this up today but I don’t know lol. The Track Editor does look mental lol.

      Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 09:47.
      • Origami Killer
        Member
        Since: May 2010

        Well friday if I can. yeah its really tempting me to buy it. ive hardly bought any games this year so this will be my first real game purchase of the year. Will wait for a price drop though.

        Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 10:15.
  3. Zephyre
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    First game I’ve pre-ordered this year. Fingers crossed the track creation mode is improved as the game matures ‘cos it’s this game’s killer feature.

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 10:07.
  4. Forrest_01
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    Not played a Ridge Racer game since Riiiddge Raceeer 7 & even then i felt it was a bit ‘stiff’. This looks to change all of that & i am now officially interested. Love me a good arcadey racer.

    In times gone by i would now be saying “might pop down to Game at lunch…” :(

    Aw, now i made myself sad.

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 10:25.
    • Origami Killer
      Member
      Since: May 2010

      would be my first one since the launch one on PSP :P

      Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 10:59.
  5. KeRaSh
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Sounds interesting. Not sure if it’s enough to sway me into buying the game since I’m not a huge racing fan when it comes to anything besides Burnout and Wipeout.

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 10:41.
  6. job
    Member
    Since: Jun 2010

    gone give this a miss and get split second i think. its cheap enough on psn and im guessing its pretty similar.

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 10:53.
    • Forrest_01
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      They actually sound worlds apart to be fair – This has a pretty comprehensive track editor & what looks to be some crazy physics, whereas Split Second uses the environment to take down rival racers & create shortcuts (the latter is i guess where you are seeing similarities).

      Split Second is a brilliant game though.

      I will wait for a few reviews of this before i rush to make a purchase.

      Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 10:58.
    • Kronik76
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      Even if you do decide to buy this I would recommend buying Split/Second anyway, it’s a fantastic game and easily one of the best arcade racers I have ever played. I had immense fun getting the platinum!

      Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 11:58.
      • Forrest_01
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        Agreed – Incredibly satisfying to take out all other racers on the field by crashing a boat into them (for example)!! :)

        Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 12:15.
      • Kronik76
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        I quite liked crushing them with a badly landed Jumbo Jet :-)

        Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 12:40.
      • Forrest_01
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        I did too, but i wanted to try & avoid using that reference as i remember the sheer shock & horror as i saw that for the first time (didn’t know about it you see).

        To be fair though, each of the tracks has it’s own little delights & i can’t say any of them were ‘bad’.

        Unless you mean ‘bad’ as ‘good’. Then they were ‘BAD’. :)

        Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 12:58.
    • Sympozium
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      It’ll be cheaper in a few weeks I guess.

      Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 12:16.
  7. cam the man
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    Haven’t had the time to play the games I’ve got lately but will get this when things settle down.

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 13:16.
  8. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Sounds great!

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 18:22.
  9. aerobes
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    It really does sound impressive and it’s come from pretty much nowhere to work its way on to my want list. I still think the name is utterly ridiculous though. ;)

    Comment posted on 28/03/2012 at 18:42.

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