XBOX 360 REVIEW: RIDGE RACER 6
Ridge Racer 6
More Ridge Racer
Awesome arcade control
Excellent tunes
Awesome online
3 drift styles to learn
Annoying announcer
15 courses (reversed) to make 30

Ridge Racer is always welcome in my house. The familiar scenery, control and music is like a visit from an old friend. by Vaughn Smith

November 27, 2005 - I was formally introduced to Ridge Racer ten years ago when it was included with the $499 brand new PSone that I brought home from Wal-Mart. Hey, at least the damn system came with a game! My Xbox 360 sure as heck didn't and it was the same price! Okay, so the 360 has some added bells and whistles and it also has Ridge Racer 6 which is fine by me. Back in the day, Ridge Racer was where it was at. No one slagged it for being too "arcadey". I'm not even sure the phrase "arcade physics" was in use back then as there wasn't any other kind. Today it's an entirely different story. You either get Namco's flagship racing title or you don't; rarely is there any inbetween. Fans will argue to the death defending it while detractors seemingly have no end to their opinions on why the game just doesn't compare to more 'serious' simulation racing games available. Ridge Racer has always been about ridges and races and it makes no excuses for any other gameplay absences.

Over the last decade we've seen numerous racing franchises zoom onto the scene, each promising more realistic physics, control and modifications. I'm not a particularly big fan of games like Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport as I dislike the amount of time I have to spend simply learning how to go around a curve in the road. The farthest I go to the 'sim' side of things is Project Gotham Racing which I love deeply. In terms of learning curve, Ridge Racer 6 is as pick up and play as you get although it will still take awhile to get your RR legs, as I call them.

Ridge Racer has always been about drifting. Drifting is the art of taking corners at high speeds without losing control or momentum. Without completely mastering this technique even the easiest courses in RR6 will eat you up and spit you out. To drift you must steer into the direction of the curve you are taking. As your vehicle begins the turn, release the acceleration which will cause the car to slide. At the apex of the curve, reapply the gas and steer in the opposite direction of the curve to gain control. If you manage to come back onto the straightaway facing the right direction, you will have successfully completed a turn. There are 3 varieties of drift available in RR6 - Standard, Mild and Dynamic. Beginners should start with Standard until they get their drfiting legs.

"Ridge Racer has always been about ridges and races and it makes no excuses for any other gameplay absences."

I'll be totally honest, until I found a vehicle that worked for me (more on cars in a moment) and got back into the swing of RR drifting after having played hours and hours of PGR3, I was coming in 5th and 4th on the easiest race. I was humiliated and I thought the game was too hard. Being the pro that I am I persevered and about a half an hour later I was kicking ass and taking names - Sorry. I hate that phrase and I promise I'll never use it again. From there I was conquering the Ridge Racer universe and showing these CPU posers what racing was all about. The poor AI never knew what him 'em. I was like Neo awakening his powers within the Matrix, I tell ya. I was often pulling into first place before the first lap was done. So am I that kick ass? Nah, I don't think so. Ridge Racer is pretty easy during the first couple of zones and the track design simply oozes playability (forwards and backwards). Since there are only a little more than a dozen tracks to race in the entire game, you'll get to know them like the back of your hand.

New to the series is the use of Nitrous which is filled by drifting. The longer and faster you drift, the faster your Nitrous reserve fills. There are three reserves to fill and you can only use them once the first reserve has been filled to completion. Namco sweetens the deal by allowing you to abuse the power of the Nitrous as well. If you have two or three reserves filled completely, you have your choice of using the power of one or pressing the RT & LT buttons to set off a boost of 2X or 3X the Nitrous power (depending on how many reserves you've filled), which will literally have you flying down the highway.

Once you understand the 'rules' nothing will stop you from kicking ass and taking names just like me. Oops. I did it again. Sorry. The rules of RR6 as I came to understand them are as follows.

  • Pick the car with the fastest MPH even if you like the look of a slower one.
  • Pick a drift style that you are comfortable with - Standard to start.
  • Start your drift a little earlier than your instincts suggest and you will execute a perfect drift which sets you in the right direction once you are around the curve. If you are constantly fishtailing out of a curve you're either using a drift technique you can't handle right now or you're steering in the opposite direction of the turn to straighten yourself..
  • Nail the start boost technique which rewards a kick in the pants send off at the starting line if you time it correctly. If you don't get it, restart and try again. You won't have to endure any load times unlike a certain other X360 racing title I know...(cough PGR3 cough)
  • Not all rocket starts are created equal - experiment and you'll learn how to nail the fastest rocket start possible!
  • Ignore the urge to set off your Nitrous once the first reserve has been filled. Save it until you've got at least 2, but 3 is far better.
  • Don't set off Nitrous when you're going to be heading around dangerous curves, although it's okay to do it around the ones you know you can easily manipulate at high speeds
  • Use your rearview mirror to get into position and allow cars from behind to bump you which slows them down and gives you a little boost ahead.
  • Give your hand a rest every once in awhile. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome here I come!

 

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System: X360
Dev: Namco
Pub: Namco
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 14
Review by Vaughn