Ridge Racer 7 PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: NAMCO BANDAI
Release Date: Out Now
One of the better racing titles we've seen on a 'next-generation' console is Ridge Racer 6. Offering a great Ridge Racer experience and high definition visuals the game was a memorable experience for fans of the series. Of course Ridge Racer games, for the most part, have appeared on Sony's consoles so it was a little strange to see the game on the Xbox 360. Indeed those fans of the series that have shown brand loyalty to Sony must have been slightly irritated that the game hadn't been held back for the PlayStation 3. They needn't have worried however, as Ridge Racer 7 is essentially a refined Ridge Racer 6 experience.
Ridge Racer 7 offers a Ridge Racer Grand Prix mode, an Online Battle mode, a Global Time Attack Mode, an Arcade mode, a UFRA Special Event mode and a Machine Connector mode. In many ways Ridge Racer 7 is very similar to Ridge Racer 6. Whilst the ability to race online with thirteen other players is a welcome addition it's the Ridge Racer Grand Prix mode that most will spend their time playing. There are many different Ridge State Grand Prix events to take part in as well as Manufacturer Trials and UFRA Single Events. There are many different cars to unlock in this mode too and it will take most gamers several months to see all this mode has to offer.
Most of the circuits from Ridge Racer 6 have been reused and the cars look all too familiar to those who have played the Xbox 360 game. There are however, two rather substantial differences with Ridge Racer 7. For the first time in the series there's a slipstreaming mechanic. Essentially this gives you a speed boost for sticking close to an opponent; build up some speed and the pull out to overtake them. It's a technique you'll have probably used before in other racing titles and it's great to see it finally being added to the Ridge Racer series. You can also modify your car using the Machine Connector. Here you'll be able to tune-up your engine with various upgrades, add exterior parts, change the tyres and suspension and add plug-in units. You can also change the look of your car by altering the paintwork and adding decals. In a nice twist you will have to build up a rapport with a manufacturer before you can buy their parts by earning Manufacturer Points from the Manufacturer's Trial events.
Let's be honest about it. The Ridge Racer series has always been one that you either love or hate. The various games in the series have never appealed to everyone and Ridge Racer 7 is no exception. Those looking for any semblance of realism in their racing titles should look somewhere else (probably at Formula One Championship Edition) as Ridge Racer 7 is by no means a simulation. In fact it's a 100% arcade racing title that has a completely unique style of its own. The Ridge Racer games have always been about high-speed races where braking simply isn't an option if you want to win. Corners are taken by drifting around them. Drifting earns you nitrous boost. If you store three amounts of boost you can have a super boost which lasts longer and propels you around the circuit at unbelievable speeds. To begin with it's an unusual experience and it's kind of like a video game version of Scalextric. Once you've experienced the joys of high speed drifting it's easy to understand why the series has been so successful over the years. That said however, it does take a while to get to grips with the drifting in Ridge Racer 7 (the absence of force feedback making it even trickier than it should be) and if you're new to the series it will take a while before you're fully comfortable with how the cars handle.
Given that Ridge Racer 6 looked so good on the Xbox 360 it was inevitable that Ridge Racer 7 on the PlayStation 3 was also going to look impressive. With the game containing many of the vehicles and circuits from Ridge Racer 6 it's hardly surprising that the game has a similar look to it. In fact the game looks very similar. If I had to pick which game looked the best, then Ridge Racer 7 would probably just about get the vote but there certainly isn't much in it. As with RR6, Ridge Racer 7 offers a superb sensation of speed that is mostly down to a super smooth frame rate. Load times are fairly good and you can even choose to install around 5GB worth of data to your PS3 HDD. Strangely though, I didn't notice any real improvements in the load times with the game installed to the HDD.
Ridge Racer 7 is fine for deaf gamers. There are some verbal comments made when you select various options on the menus and before and during the race. None of these are subtitled but in all honesty these comments don't provide any useful information and not being aware of them isn't much of a loss. During races the HUD provides all the information you'll need. The nitrous gauge will show you when you have boost to use and it will turn blue when you have a triple boost to use. The slipstream icons will be lit blue when you are slip streaming. Outside of the races you'll find all the important information is shown in text. There is even a selection of tips in text that will tell you everything you need to know to get the most out of the game.
If you're a fan of the Ridge Racer series then Ridge Racer 7 is definitely a game you're going to want to pick up. However if you've played Ridge Racer 6 on the Xbox 360 then you might be a little disappointed at how much of the content has been recycled for this game. That said however, the two new additions of slipstreaming and being able to modify your vehicles really does add something fresh to the Ridge Racer experience that no fan of the series would want to miss out on. As long as you're not looking for a simulation and don't mind the unique drift mechanics of the Ridge Racer series then you're sure to enjoy what Ridge Racer 7 has to offer.
Ridge Racer 7 is a fine addition to the Ridge Racer series. Those who played Ridge Racer 6 will be disappointed with the amount of recycled material that is in the game though.