We all scoffed. A game that’s retailing at around £20 with just three tracks and five cars – hardly the best value for money, is it? A title with that much content would normally sit at the cheapest price bracket on iOS and come with 69p DLC purchases to bulk it up a bit – not entirely unlike the recent iPhone Ridge Racer, then. But did we miss the point?[drop2]After spending a good couple of weeks with Ridge Racer Vita, and generally for longer than pretty much every other game on the platform (with the current exception of WipEout 2048) I’m here to say that despite the shortcomings in actual content, the game’s not that bad at all, and opinion floating around the ‘net appears to be slightly off mark: Ridge Racer isn’t like earlier games, and because of that the track count doesn’t matter nearly as much.
Let me explain: this latest title doesn’t have a branching, linear career mode to battle through. It doesn’t have one at all, in fact. If you think back to how Gran Turismo worked on PSP, with the dip-in, dip-out mechanics of the Arcade Mode, Ridge Racer isn’t that far off. Except that now everything you do is tied to your team (which you choose when you start the game) and counts towards a grand, global tally.
I’ve read the feedback the game has been getting since its Japanese launch, and I can understand some of the frustrations, but Cellius’ attempt to take the game into a different direction works well with my addictive, compulsive nature. Because everything you do counts, whether it’s towards your own RPG-esque level or the greater good of your worldwide team, I feel like I’m actually contributing to something.
I normally fire up the game, do a quick single player race, then jump into the online time trials, download a ghost I know I’ll never beat and then run a few online races with the same sort of super-friendly Ridge players I’ve been competing against since the PS3. I like it, because it’s perfectly designed for mobile play, even if it does really need a web connection to maximise the benefits.
And whilst visually it’s a bit shaky – the graphics are generally pretty good, but the frame rate hardly keeps to its 30fps level (with some killer slowdown in places) and it’s a little bit lifeless – the UI is great, big chunky buttons to press on the main screen and cute little arrows elsewhere. The music’s fine too, your usual Ridge Racer fare and plenty of gritty engine sounds.
So whilst it’s not your regular Ridge Racer experience, it’s one that I actually quite like. I’m not ignorant to think that everyone else will, but it’s a somewhat brave attempt at something a bit different and if they can patch up some of the graphics for the European release I’ll probably end up buying it again when the Vita launches here. Hopefully I’ll see you on the track.