Ridge Racer 6 Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

The Ridge Racer series has always begged the question, why take a corner with little flair, when you can throw your motor around a bend sideways? This is indeed the philosophy of Namco‘s seminal racing series, and the art of drift racing abolishes the want or need to apply the brakes when you can tackle a chicane with a virtual death wish instead.

In a break in tradition the latest Ridge Racer game has landed on Microsoft’s sleek white box before a Sony console. The nitrous system introduced on the PSP version makes the cut, a huge main mode assures plenty for the solo player, and a suite of multiplayer options extends the lifespan considerably. It’s all good stuff, although we still think it will end up on a future Sony console, and probably with a load of enhancements thrown in too.

The World Xplorer mode is Ridge Racer 6’s expansive single player offering, and boasts over 200 races to wildly take corners in. The mode is set out in a way, which gives you the opportunity to choose your race route, and this is all done through a grid filled with numbered hexagons. It does make the game non-linear, although we do feel that it‘s pretty pointless and that the majority will find the structure needlessly difficult to begin with. It’s a good weighty mode nonetheless, which doesn’t really pose any threat of a challenge until the Advanced and Expert routes open up.

The cars possess their own attributes such as speed and drift style, assuring that all the vehicles don’t handle the same, therefore some have a natural desire to look poetically beautiful around a nasty bend whilst others are trickier when attempting to look stylish during a drift. There’s five classes of vehicles available, and expectedly the higher the class the faster the vehicle.

Still on the subject of speed, this sixth Ridge Racer game has a lot in common with the PSP version as it shares the “drift to earn nitrous” principle. Namco haven’t left this feature untouched, and have beefed it up somewhat instead, with the addition and potential to have three nitrous charged up at once. This enables your motor to reach even more unimaginable speeds when all nitrous are fired up simultaneously in either doubles or trios. We fell in love with the nitrous, although we fail to see any reason why the AI should be able to make use of this tool to go faster in a “no nitrous” race, and as the game progresses cheating also seems to ensue as the competing motors begin to use nitrous like it’s going out of fashion (seemingly available on demand), which makes life a lot more difficult and frustrating for you.

The games tracks take you on journeys through airports, brightly lit city streets, windy mountains and sky-high cityscapes. These tracks are well designed and thankfully have plenty of drifting potential, although sadly the overall look of the game is a little underwhelming and looks a little pre-360 despite being serviceable on most counts.

An online mode is a great addition, although you have to be a skilful player to really leave your mark. It’s knowing when to drift and when to use your nitrous, as without this valuable knowledge you may find yourself at the back of the pack more often then you‘d like. If you are a competitive gamer it’s needless to say that you will be frustrated, if you don’t bother to put some practice in. For anyone bothered there’s also a 2-player split-screen mode, which runs perfectly fine and thankfully isn’t as foggy as Ridge Racer 5‘s rushed multiplayer mode.

Ridge Racer 6 is the perfect example of an arcade-style racer that handles like a dream. Tying the drifting in to the nitrous system is a masterstroke in game design, and even places some tactical decisions before you. There’s plenty of frustration to be found here, but Ridge Racer 6 is still one of the finest arcade-style racers that money can buy.