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Ridge Racer 3D Review


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On 03/30/2011 at 02:07 PM by Nick DiMola

A by the books Ridge Racer game isn’t a bad thing, but it’s nothing all that special either.
RECOMMENDATION:

A worthy launch purchase for racing fans.

It has been a while since I’ve played a Ridge Racer game, but after a good amount of time in Ridge Racer 3D, it’s clear that things really haven’t changed at all. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing – the Ridge Racer flavor of racing is a fairly enjoyable one, but it does seem like after many years and iterations, something would be different. As it stands, with the launch of the 3DS, players have access to a solid racing title that doesn’t offer too much outside of standard three lap racing.

While Ridge Racer 3D offers a number of different modes, including Time Trial and Quick Tour, players will likely spend most of their time progressing through the game in the Grand Prix mode, which is something like a career mode. With branching paths, players will take on sets of four races at a time before following a new branch on the path to completion. Thankfully, players don’t need to slog through all four races before triggering a save, which means that if players only have five quick minutes for a race, they can do so and still make progress in their quest.

One of the game’s greatest drawbacks is its slow start. Even after a couple hours of racing, enemies will still be easily overcome while racing to the finish line of any given track. Often, I was winning by around half a lap, which is a bit ridiculous. Thankfully, with the second class of vehicles, things became a bit more competitive, requiring precise track navigation for success.

Though something that may be easy in a number of racing games, in Ridge Racer 3D (or any in the series, for that matter) players must precisely drift through each turn in order to maintain speed and earn nitro boost. Boost can easily make the difference between winning and losing and with three boost containers to fill, players also have the option of how they dispense it. If so chosen, all three can be activated at once producing an incredible speed boost. For smaller and more frequent boosts, players can set off the nitrous upon earning a single gauge full.

Furthermore, slipstreaming is crucial to success. By trailing leading vehicles, players will avoid some of the resistance-causing wind, allowing for greater speeds. When all three gameplay elements are combined, it’s clear how much strategy can be utilized to win a race, not to mention the sheer skill involved with drifting through turns with precision.

Mastering the drift is what provides most of the appeal of Ridge Racer. It’s simple to execute, but hard to perfect. Letting off the gas, turning, and hitting the gas again will activate the maneuver, but players will not only need to activate it at the right time, but gracefully exit by either straightening out after the turn, or letting off the gas. In winding sections of track, the drift can be extended from left to right seamlessly, in turn earning tons of nitro while keeping maximum speed. It’s quite satisfying to effectively pull off, but isn’t always easy to do perfectly, especially with other racers in the way.

Of course, each vehicle handles drifting differently, which means a constant adjustment and re-mastery of the technique with each new vehicle. Given the increasing difficulty over time, players will need to move to continuously faster cars to succeed, making the process a necessary one. This helps keep Ridge Racer 3D fresh through its extensive campaign.

Thankfully control is solid and the physics feel arcade-like to match the drifting mechanic. Multiple control schemes are also available to cater to each player's taste. Whether you want to accelerate with the A button or the R button, the option is available.

The track designs are well suited for the drift heavy gameplay, typically featuring windy roads and decent straightaways for executing big boosts. The locales are also varied, which gives the racing a nice backdrop. Overall, they do leave something to be desired, as a number of sections of track are recycled throughout the game, which can make certain new tracks stale before even the first encounter. It’s a tolerable facet of the game, but one that can grow tiresome. Also tiresome is the announcer who gives a play-by-play with each turn and section of the course. While you can turn down the volume on the announcer, things feel somewhat empty after doing so. Even with the announcer on, things feel somewhat sterile; this makes it a bit frustrating either way you decide to go.

Only local multiplayer is available, making it currently impossible for me to try out. Online racing would’ve gone a long way to giving Ridge Racer 3D lasting appeal. As it stands, beyond the Grand Prix, most players won’t have much to come back to.

The game’s 3D effect does a nice job of giving everything depth and volume, which can be helpful in the quest to perfectly drift through every turn on the track. On occasion, the game will throw items like confetti in the foreground to give things some character and take use of the 3DS visual capabilities. While the game isn’t the most visually impressive title available, it still does look quite good and is visually on par with the PSP, which is a nice step up from the original DS.

Ridge Racer 3D’s biggest issue is its lack of personality and flair. The entire experience is sterile feeling, which is only made worse by the extremely long build up until races in Grand Prix become challenging. Racing fans won’t be steered wrong in picking up Ridge Racer 3D with their shiny new 3DS, but better racing games are surely somewhere on the horizon.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

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