Ridge Racer is a long standing franchise that started out on the Playstation family of systems, so it seems only fitting that it welcomes in the arrival of Sony’s new handheld, the Playstation Vita. How does this title stack up against the rest of the franchise, and does it have what it takes to be a fitting launch title and earn your cash, or does it deserve to drift off into the abyss?
Players start out by picking one of four teams that are based off of the four Playstation face buttons. Trianchor Alliance, Circlite Racing, Xealot Motorsport or Squaris GP, pretty awful names there. Players get certain bonuses for signing with different factions, and factions play an important role in the online portion of the title as there are essentially three main modes: World Race, Spot Race and Time Attack. World Race sees you spending the majority of your time racing in either online, ghost battle – via downloadable ghost times – or a face to face battle with friends via ad hoc mode. You have to sign up to a team, if you don’t then you can’t play – it’s as simple as that.
Spot Race is one of the few options for a single player experience that allows you to play on any of the three tracks in the game – yes you read that correctly – in either regular or reverse mode against AI opponents. Time attack is split into Lap Time Attack and Total Time Attack; the former is your basic hot lap mode where you go for the best lap time and can play a total of thirty laps per session and quit anytime to record your progress. Total Time Attack has you aiming for the fastest total time after three laps. As you progress in level you unlock a duel mode that allows you to participate in boss-like races which are extremely difficult. To counter this, the player is encouraged to download support in the form of ghost teammates, in which you only race the last lap. It is kind-of cool, but mostly just ridiculous and annoying due to the difficulty.
Playing through these modes rewards you with credits to spend in your garage to upgrade your machines. The upgrade system seems to be based on a skill tree, complete with various branching options. There is plenty of choice for upgrading, which will take a lot of time and just as many races to collect them all. However it seems to take forever to level up in skill; you’ll earn VP points for competing and racing, and can then add them to the teams total by selecting Team Vision – which will also tell you the goal for the day, such as targeting a specific team. The only way to even have a shot at top times is to play through over and over, earning more credits to upgrade machines – a time consuming and tedious task at times.
Online uses Near to download ghost data from friends list or people in your area which is very similar to the way Ridge Racer 3D on the Nintendo 3DS uses StreetPass. Online racing also allows you to search for people at your specific rank, browse lobbies or create your own lobby and edit. When players finally do manage to get into a room, the game runs pretty smoothly from our experience. However unless you win frequently, you’ll be spending lots of time trying to level up.
The real question with Ridge Racer is where is the quantity for the price? As the title retails for $29 and is available for $25 on the PS Store, but for three tracks, five vehicles and an inherent lack of a wider variety in modes it is hard to justify the purchase. A Gold Pass is available for $7 which includes five extra machines, three courses, two songs and one medley song, but unless you were an early adopter this seems like needless cash in DLC. Not all of the content is available yet but will be released little by little. We must say it is strange that Namco Bandai had all this content lined up, yet they didn’t push the release back a month to allow for it to be added onto the title – which could have easily made for a more diverse game. If you are not a trophy fanatic or even a Ridge Racer fanatic, we strongly suggest you pass this extremely-low-on-content offer up. As for racing fans, there is always the superb WipEout 2048.
Final Score: 1/5