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Ridge Racer: Unbounded (Xbox 360)
Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Available For: PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment
Age: 7 (PEGI)
With the general lack of humans in most racing games, character comes from the tracks, cars and the setting. Namco have made a big change by ditching the brightly coloured cliffs and luscious scenery, and then replacing it with a dark and gritty city. It's like the change from Mother Theresa to Adolph Hitler.
In this day and age, very few arcade racers rely on boosting and just coming first, and like a sheep straight from it's pen, Ridge Racer is hot on their heels. Just like Motorstorm Apocalypse or Blur, Unbounded is big on explosions and the fancy destruction of both the opposition and scenery.
A heavy emphasis lies on drifting, and it's by doing so that players build up their ability to boost and rip straight through concrete. It's a decent method of gathering power that when coupled with the great handling, actually makes the play feel meaty and fun.
The variety in vehicles is almost non-existent. Sure, there's a selection, but no bond is built between the driver and the vehicle as they all feel similar and disposable. Even after hours and hours of playing, I can't even remember the name of a single vehicle.
Levels are unlocked through play in a linear and unoriginal style, with points being collected from each event to open the next. Each part of the city has unique roads, and each varies slightly in its general aesthetics. This variation is refreshing and well needed to appease any boredom.
It's not a bad game, not by a long shot. Unfortunately though Ridge Racer has lost it's identity and feels little different to dozens of other racing games out there. It was a brave attempt to give the series a 21st century makeover, but a stray from the herd would have been nice, not just another pandering to what seems to be the fashion of racers these days.
SCORE: 6 / 10
PROS: The racing feels good, with a quality drifting mechanic.
CONS: A general lack of identity and its own unique personality.