Ridge Racer 6 Review

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Graphics: 9.0
Sound : 8.0
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 8.5
Overall : 8.3
Review by Andy Levine
The Ridge Racer series has been around on home consoles since the release of the original PlayStation, and since then it has also debuted on the PS2 and PSP. In its latest incarnation, Ridge Racer 6 takes the step up to the next generation of gaming with its release on the Xbox 360. The gameplay experience hasn’t changed a whole lot since previous installments, but the tire-squealing, drifting, and blaring sense of speed makes up for the lack of innovation. With the overly obnoxious announcer making his comeback, Ridge Racer 6 on the Xbox 360 definitely lives up to its reputation.

The heart of the single player game is in the World Xplorer mode. Instead of having a sequential storyline to follow, Ridge Racer 6 allows the gamer to choose their routes from a web of events. The missions branch off into different clusters, which subsequently lead you to faster race classes. The earlier races introduce the basic mechanics of the game, while the latter portion of the campaign is all about blistering speeds. In every race you start at the very back of a 14-man pack, and need to work your way up to the number one spot to complete the level. The basic route consists of races involving the 4 basic car classes at a moderate difficulty. Afterwards, new routes become available, including the extremely challenging expert route and the exotic special route. Overall, the World Xplorer mode is an addicting experience that is filled to the brim with unlockable cars and courses.

Aside from the racing campaign, there are a few other race modes where your technique can be perfected. The Global Time Attack feature connects to Xbox Live and allows for world rankings to be viewed. Instead of merely being able to compare times, however, racers can also upload their ghost data. If there’s a part of a track you just can’t pass, you can watch the best player in the world do it from multiple angles. A single race mode is also available so you can jump right into the action without having to deal with any online setup. There’s always a new challenge to face here, whether it be against a relentless ghost car or a pack of turbo charged beasts.

As far as the actual racing goes, Ridge Racer 6 is all about high speed drifting, nitrous boosting, and an overall blistering sense of speed. As mentioned before, there are four basic car classes along with one special car class. The first two classes are really meant for the physics of the game to be learned, while the last two classes introduce fine-tuned turbocharged engines to speed things up. The special class is made up of inventive vehicles, including an enormous van loaded with subwoofers and a sleek rocket-like car. Part of what makes the racing feel so fast is the inclusion of nitrous. Each car has three tanks that are filled by drifting at high speeds, and a tank must be entirely filled for it to be usable. If you save up your boost and decide to use all three tanks at once, triple nitrous will come into action. Triple nitrous not only lasts longer than three individual tanks would, but it allows for higher speeds to be reached for longer periods of time. Even though nitrous can’t be refilled when boost is activated, pulling off an ‘ultimate charge’ using the residual boost speed will quickly fill your meter. Above everything else, this series is known for its arcade drift physics. The drifting can be dull after entering a turn, but if you have some guys on your tail it can keep things interesting. Some races feel bland occasionally depending on the track. A few of the lesser inspired courses consist of a few wide turns with some hefty straightaways that don’t require too much user involvement. On the other hand, some tracks are full of winding turns, tight alleys, and even jumps to add a refreshing twist. The racing dynamics haven’t evolved all that much since the beginning of series, and if you’re already a fan you surely won’t be disappointed.

Ridge Racer 6 comes across as a nicely presented racing title that demonstrates what next-gen titles can achieve. The environments are meticulously detailed to develop a strong sense of atmosphere. A vast jungle area filled with jumps, slopes, and bridges has an outdoorsy feel, while an industrial setting comprised of small alleyways and bleak factories carries a gloomy connotation. The lighting effects are soft and vibrant, and the prominent sun always adds a nice reflective glow on the pavement. The vehicle designs are inspiring and aren’t your run-of-the-mill automobiles, and it’s pleasant to see every last headlight and exhaust tip created crisply. If it wasn’t for a few bland textures and a shaky outside camera this game would look absolutely gorgeous. The soundtrack is made up of various techno beats that help break up the silence, and you can also play your own MP3s if you have a supported USB device. The announcer gets annoying pretty quickly, but fortunately he can be stifled if you please. The cars have distinct sounding engines that whine loudly as they max out their RPMs. The most prominent sound effect of all is the same tire squealing noise, and the lack of variation here sticks out like a sore thumb. The game as a whole still comes across with a high presentation value that shows off the power of the 360.

Aside from single player racing, competing over Xbox Live can be done in either ranked or player matches. Player matches don’t affect your record and are simply for fun, while the ranked matches will always be recorded. World Ranking Points are earned by winning races, and earning more points will move you higher up on the leader board. The races usually run at 60 FPS without any lag, making it truly a test of skill. Split screen racing is also available if you want to go head-to-head with a friend right away. There’s plenty of tire-screeching fun to be had online or with a buddy here.

In conclusion, Ridge Racer 6 is a decent racing title for Xbox 360. The same enjoyable arcade racing has entered the next generation of gaming, and despite the lack of major gameplay innovations, it’s still a great title to pop in and play for any amount of time. If you’re looking for a simple racer that’s easy to pick up and filled with loads of unlockable content, look no further than Ridge Racer 6.