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Ridge Racer 8


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Question for those more knowledgeable than I about the series, has it ever featured short cuts on tracks before outside of the night time bridge race on RR6? I've only played Ridge, 2, a bit of Rage, a decent whack of 4 and all of 6.

I wouldn't mind damage on cars but it's rare I'm ever fighting with another car to get damaged. Shortcuts I'm not sure are really Ridge and crashes/takedowns are certainly not. Whoever suggested this direction may have had the slightest flash of inspiration in some areas but all I'm seeing is a clone of several other racers flying under the Ridge flag. :unsure:

All the short cuts form other tracks but i'm not sure i understand the question. Theres never been any unintentional short cuts in any of the games AFAIK.

Unlike UC which had a good few.

The other think, looking at it, is i'm not sure Bugbear have changed their physic engine. I personally enjoyed it but i know plenty that didn't and even though i liked it, i'm not sure i'd like it bolted to a game with its own pure physics engine*.

* that is, one that can only apply to one series.

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The Finnish studio has a reputation for making excellent driving games that blend chaos and humour with a canny precision. It wouldn't be too surprising to discover that the team has made another here. But first off, what happened to Ridge Racer?

The answer is it's still there, in fleeting glimpses. It's invoked in the sodium gloom of an urban tunnel before your car ploughs into a pillar and the all-new procedural insanity takes over.

It's there in the drift mechanic. Although this element has gone through unspecified changes, it still helps power-up some of the game's best moments.

And it's there, apparently, in specific tracks that Bugbear hints will reference classic Ridge Racer routes. It's all about capturing "a certain Ridge Racer feeling", as producer Joonas Laakso puts it, before struggling to explain exactly what that feeling is.

Laakso eventually settles on the word "spiritual" but he could just as easily have said, "enjoyably tranquilised". Despite the weight and the speed and the handling, a few of Ridge Racer's greatest moments can leave you feeling like you've taken a dreamy spin on a tea-cup ride while exploring your body's upper limits for Co-codamol abuse.

Ultimately, Laakso admits, it will be easier for some players to just ignore the Ridge Racer part of the title. That leaves Unbounded – an odd and oddly appropriate name for what the team's come up with.

The Unbounded in question (I could write "the titular Unbounded" and almost certainly score a Googlewhack) are groups of street racers who battle it out across the highways of Shatter Bay aiming, apparently, to find out "who is the biggest badass". (I hope there isn't a trophy.)

The fight for pole position is a fairly explosive one. Bugbear was thinking about physics in driving games long before quite a lot of developers were thinking about physics in action games and Unbounded is the team's most dynamic title yet: concrete turns to powder, cars crumple in millions of unique ways following millions of unique impacts and – oh yes – you can drive through the wall of a building before popping jauntily out into the air on the other side.

The central system that powers it all sees you charging up your Destruction ability by drifting (there it is!), chasing, and grabbing air time. The game then shows you various points of interest tagged around the streets of Shatter Bay, and if you have enough juice you can interact with them – in other words, you can plough straight into a skyscraper and emerge unharmed.

Some are short cuts, some are drafts, and when you've found and unlocked them all you can still have a lot of fun nudging rivals off bridges, or seeing what happens when you drive through lamp-posts.

It's easy to read this as a Split/Second rip-off but the approach is more distinct than it seems. Black Rock's game had you fundamentally reshaping the track in massive pre-recorded cinematic explosions: the game planted the charges and you just decided when to set them off.

Bugbear's opting for a little less apocalypse – you'll be punching new routes through the landscape and knocking cars out of the race, rather than igniting entire city blocks – and is also building on the studio's knack for procedural damage. The result is a more authentically chaotic approach which should render each collision a one-off.

"We are really good at smashing things up," says Laakso, when asked if Shutter Bay will lose its appeal after you've found the main points of destructive interest.

"The environments we've built have been built to be broken down. The competition has pre-set destruction, everything we have is dynamic: they do set-pieces, we do simulation and see what happens."

Shatter Bay is the last major piece of the puzzle for now: a stylish blend of New York and Chicago that has you competing first to win races and then to dominate each course by blowing through all of its secret routes.There's plenty of room to explore and the whole place seems slick and fit for purpose.

"Ridge City was built for clinical driving and insane drifts," says Laakso. "Shutter Bay is about carnage and risk-taking."

After that there's multiplayer, presumably. Heavy, if enigmatic, hints towards the end of the latest demo suggest that there will be some way of pitting your version of the city against other players' creations. Visual leader board? Autolog equivalent? We may find out at E3.



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This quote from his own lips stating he has no clue what Ridge Racer embodies:

"Ridge City was built for clinical driving and insane drifts," says Laakso. "Shutter Bay is about carnage and risk-taking."

Ridge IS clinical driving and insane drifts, that's why it's so much fucking fun. It seems devs are all taking the same route, remove as much of the actual driving from the game as possible and just throw a bunch of fucking physics and explosions about. Split Second bored me to fucking tears, it was more about pootling about the track and triggering shit than actual racing. Motorstorm Apocalypse isn't bad but again, it's more about the shit going on around you and taking short cuts than driving well.

It's a driving game. I want to be better than other people because I'm better than other people, not because I blew them up or took short cuts to win, that's what Burnout is for.

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Agree with all of that. This looks like a burnout-style experience made by a good developer with the Ridge name tacked-on.

I'm not a big driving game player, but I LOVE Ridge Racer. When I was playing RR7 online I played against some ridiculously good Japanese players. I think I beat this one guy once and I used to run into him fairly regularly. The rest of the time he'd win by 5+ seconds, sometimes a lot more. But the time I edged a win over him was just immensely pleasing. Even when I was coming in second I'd be beating the rest of the field by 10+ seconds because I was striving so hard to keep up with those sort of players. Those guys didn't win because they knew of a short-cut that I didn't or because they rammed me into a wall, they won because they were just fucking good at the game.

I need to buy a PS3 again.

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Motorstorm Apocalypse isn't bad but again, it's more about the shit going on around you and taking short cuts than driving well.

Not really.

The shit going on around you is just there to make the whole experience more thrilling. Sometimes things happen on track that you need to avoid, but you have to drive/ride well to avoid that shit. None of it is random. Learning that stuff is really no different to becoming familiar with corners or the best place to boost on a Ridge Racer track. Short cuts or the best route to take are also just more elements of a track to learn. Again, surely not that different than getting to intimately know bends and straights along those routes.

So yeah, Apocalypse is very much about racing well, the tracks just take a little more time to get used to than in other racers. Behind the smoke of apocalyptic destruction, it's actually a very pure arcade racing experience. And the best one this generation I reckon.

I found Ridge Racer PS3 and 3DS both a little lacking compared to the classics. Maybe the series just feels a little dated to me these days, I don't know. The campaigns of both became rather dull well before their ends. Handing the series over to another developer with a fresh approach was a good idea I think. What I don't really want is another Burnout Paradise.

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I want to be better than other people because I'm better than other people, not because I blew them up or took short cuts to win, that's what Burnout is for.

Irony being that Burnout 2 was an excellent racing game with fantastic drifting and which encouraged you to avoid collisions not cause them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bleurgh. Near the end it looks like he's going to launch into a powerslide but he just drives straight through the pillar. Where's the fun in that?

Oh and this is my favourite RR7 song:


So cheesy but I love it. It came on my ipod when I was driving the other week, I had a split-second 'is this real?' moment. Not good. Luckily I wasn't coming up to a corner.

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think that japanese guy from NAMCO has had his saki drugged.....

So RR ends as a pure racing experience with a unique feel, to be replaced with a NFS HP/Burnout clone??

no way...

Namco must be very hard up for cash to publish it as opposed to develop it

a sad, sad day for any true RR fan....

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Oh great. So now we can go through pillars. That's how I want all my racing to be done.

Japanese guy in direction-change fail. Having said that, kids today love this kind of thing, so might well go for it and have it outsell all previous titles.

It was fun while it lasted guys.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Eurogamer Preview:

It's more than just the concrete that comes tumbling down in Ridge Racer Unbounded. In this, Finnish developer Bugbear's first game in coming up to five years, the very definition of a series that's been about overstated drifts and nitrous trails is smashed to pieces too. In the rubble that's left at the end of a race, it's hard to pick out where exactly Namco's racing staple has got to. Gone are the high-gloss world, LED trails and eccentric handling of the Ridge Racers of old; in their place is a punchy, physical and playful game with a very literal impact. It's about driving through things rather than fishtailing around them, and it couldn't feel further removed from what's gone before.

There's been no shortage of disquiet since Unbounded's unveiling, and in a way the naysayers are right: as a Ridge Racer game in the traditional sense, this feels like a failure. But in most other regards, Ridge Racer Unbounded feels like a resounding success. Bugbear has been sorely missed on a racing scene that has atrophied dramatically since its last game. Unbounded, if nothing else, is a triumphant comeback for the developers of the FlatOut series, games that have been succinctly summed up as Burnout's redneck cousin. Unbounded sees a return of Bugbear's trademark knockabout action: more playful slapstick than arcade slickness, though it's been refined in an attempt to stay faithful to the Ridge Racer name.

Races take place in Shatter Bay, an imagined metropolis that sits somewhere between New York and Chicago, taking in the crowded skyline of the Windy City and drawing upon the grimy veneer of the Big Apple. The action's set in a constant twilight as opposed to the neon nights or cloudless blue days of the series' mainline, but it's a diverse and immersive backdrop, and one that's also being placed in the player's hands. A city editor lets new tracks be constructed through a tile-based system, with sets of six tracks making up a city that can be swapped online. Bugbear endearingly explains all this through a wooden train set that's pulled from a tattered plastic bag, and it's a fitting analogy - the editor's simple in its implementation, but impressive in what it enables.

Whether in Bugbear's creations or the player's own, Shatter Bay is a gritty urban sprawl that's several thousand miles away from the sterile beauty of Ridge City, and the action within is a further departure still. Races are noisy, messy affairs with a healthy appetite for destruction, in which the environment's an ally, a toy to be manipulated and exploited. Playful and reliable physics serve this part of the game well. The concrete struts that hold up city underpasses crumble like dry chalk, and the game's focus on destructibility requires a little hard rewiring from a racing mind. Here, instead of scraping the pillars with the bonnet in a controlled slide, the best course of action is to plough straight through them. They're not the only thing to fall under the player's wheels; chain-link fences tumble, walls can be driven through and - with enough power built up through drifts and jumps - a destructive nitro boost can be triggered with a button press. These scale the carnage considerably; with one of these activated, it's not just pillars but smoke stacks that can be razed, or shop fronts ploughed through, all of which is shown through a Hollywood filter as the action dramatically slows. There are the inevitable comparisons to the sadly departed Black Rock's Split/Second, though there's one important point of distinction. Whereas in that game destruction was an often-distant spectacle triggered with a button press, in Unbounded you're the agent, directly responsible for the havoc around you.

The cars have been designed well to that effect. They have the boisterous naiveté of a child's crayon sketch of a car, lending the garage a playful robustness that's handy when you're throwing the cars at the scenery every second. More importantly, they're squat, powerful wedges that feel like they've got a purpose - only, in this particular game, that purpose is smashing through concrete. By their very childlike design they urge you to hurl them at the nearest solid object. Their handling's also more tactile and more physical than you'd expect of a Ridge Racer game. Drifts are teased out with a dedicated button, and once commenced their momentum is tricky to keep in check. Three flavours of car are available in the early bulid; one that's heavy on traction and maintains a sensible line while cornering, one that's a happy middle ground and another, extreme car that's best driven sideways.

It's when manhandling a car at impossible angles that one of those fleeting glimpses of the brand that's been awkwardly stamped on Unbounded shines through. The drifting's one link to the series, and Joonas Laakso, Unbounded's producer, suggests there are many more. "We tried to incorporate as much as we can, but nothing is direct," says Joonas, a self-confessed Ridge Racer fan who screamed with excitement when he realised he'd be working on such a beloved franchise. "Basically, we took what we know about Ridge Racer - Namco didn't come to us and say 'you need this and this and this' - and we tried to incorporate as much as we possibly can. But all of that has been reinterpreted. We had to have drifting, but what are we going to do with that? Ridge Racer drifting doesn't play nice with real world physics, so what are we going to do? That forced us to come up with something new, which I welcomed."

It's new, yes, and Bugbear constantly reminds us that this isn't Ridge Racer 8 but rather a novel offshoot. It's hard to hide a suspicion that Unbounded is a Bugbear game first and a Ridge Racer one second, and that the iconic name was slapped on in an attempt to leverage some of the long-running series' appeal. It's a suspicion that Joonas doesn't quite dispel, though he does put up a convincing argument that Unbounded's doing enough to justify its name. "Namco came to us," he confirms. "But was there a Ridge Racer before there was any sort of car game? I can't say. Obviously there are Bugbear genes in there, and some of the technology there are bits and pieces from FlatOut. We're 11 years old, so there's legacy there. We were working on a car game, but it was not like it was FlatOut 3 and we decided to make it Ridge Racer. All the cars and tracks have been purpose-built for this game."

It's those Bugbear genes that still shine brightest in Unbounded's strange genetic makeup - though that's no bad thing. It's brash, boisterous and, true to the FlatOut games, punishingly difficult, though there are some choice pickings from Ridge Racer in its presentation and style. And the inspiration runs much, much deeper too. "I've a completely different mind-set for Unbounded," says Joonas. "In the FlatOut games you were mostly avoiding failure, and now we're trying to reward you for what you do, which is a polar opposite thing in terms of game design principles. In that sense, it's going to feel very different."

Different it most definitely is. It's not Ridge Racer in the traditional sense, but it is a smart, slick and well-produced arcade racer with an unbridled sense of fun - and that's enough to ensure that Unbounded can take on the Ridge Racer mantle with pride.

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