Product: Ridge Racer 6
Company: Namco Bandai
Authour: Peter "Ruined" Calderwood
Date: February 5th, 2006
SYNOPSIS
In Ridge Racer 6, the classic Namco franchise returns with more speed, excitement and gameplay variety than ever before. Players enter a world of high-definition, high-speed races and can choose to challenge others or take control of the wheel alone in a variety of on and offline modes. Online compatibility lends to features such as Vs. Battles and downloadable content, further enhancing the game's replayability to make Ridge Racer 6 an unforgettably immersive experience.

Is Ridge Racer 6 worth taking for a spin? Read on!

GRAPHICS: C
Score reflects graphics viewed at 1080i resolution
Ridge Racer 6's graphics run locked at a smooth 60fps. Sadly, that is the best quality I can describe about them. Cars in the game look generic and don't have much detail, and tracks can be described in the same way. Playing this game at standard definition might yield a game that looks like an XBOX1 game. However, the simplistic graphics actually do not detract much from the game, as the gameplay too is simplistic (not necessarily in a bad way). While in some games mediocre graphics take away from the game due to framerate slowdowns or poor presentation, in Ridge Racer 6 the graphics simply just fail to excite but do not negatively affect gameplay in any way. In fact, the 60fps framerate adds much to the sense of speed in the game. Still, I expected more from Namco.

SOUND: B-
Score reflects sound played back in 5.1 Surround
Like the graphics, the music is also simplistic and generic. However, I gave it a higher rating than the graphics because some of the tracks have a cool synth beat, similar to some of the tracks in the SNES classic F-Zero. Sound effects are adequate but nothing special.

CONTROL: B+
Control in this game is very good. Right trigger accelerates, Left trigger brakes, A button looks back, B button is single nitro, Y button is double nitro, B+Y buttons is triple nitro. You definitely feel in control of your car with this game once you master the feel of drift racing. My one complaint that knocks it out of the "A" range is that sometimes when coming out of a turn and into another turn your car may occasionally fail to drift and instead smack into the wall several times; you can avoid this by deliberately braking before attempting to drift on that turn, but sometimes it just feels like it should drift and it doesn't.

SINGLE PLAYER GAMEPLAY: B+
The bulk of the single player gameplay revolves around the "World Xplorer" mode. In this mode, tons of individual races are connected together like a web that you can navigate through to unlock new cars. In Ridge Racer 6, you essentially have a number of paths you can choose when attempting to move through a particular class. You start out with slower Class 1 cars and move up to Class 4 cars and beyond eventually. While there are certain races that have a question mark next to them on the map which unlock a car when you complete them, there are also cars that are unlocked when you complete different sections of the web. While this sounds a bit complicated, its actually very intuitive and gives you much more freedom in moving through the game. One downer is that many of the unlockable cars are simply new paintjobs for cars you already have. There are other modes too such as Time Trial and Single Race, but these modes don't offer much excitement compared to the World Xplorer mode.

Gameplay at its core is good old fashioned arcade style racing - very simplistic, no bells, no whistles, pure speed. If you are looking for a Style or Cone Challenge you are playing the wrong game. Similarly, if you want to defeat Johnny Nitro with your tricked out Civic, you are also playing the wrong game. For XBOX1 owners who never played the Ridge Racer series, Ridge Racer 6 is most similar to XBOX1's Outrun 2. The main difference between the two being that in Outrun 2 you race along one continuous course while Ridge Racer 6 consists of 3-lap racetracks. Once you get the hang of drifting, which is quite easy - when you are about to go around a big turn, lay off the gas, start turning, then step on the gas again - you can zip around the tracks in RR6 at breakneck speeds often surprising even yourself as you are going around turns sideways at 200mph without even glancing the wall.

Nitro is employed in the game in single, double, and triple amounts. Your boost meter goes up when you drift around turns; use a car that drifts less and you can take the turns tigher but you get less nitro, use a car that drifts more and you'll be looser around the turns but generating more boost. Double nitros generally will be the ones you use the most as they last for quite a while and give you a huge speed boost. Single nitros don't speed you up quite enough and Triple nitros sometimes last past the straightaway and into the wall of the next turn. Unlike in other games if you use a nitro when you are below your max speed the car will not accelerate to max speed significantly faster than it would without a nitro; however, if you are at or near max speed hitting a nitro can propel you well beyond that max speed until it wears off. Drifting while over your regular max speed, which can be done after using a nitro, fills up the boost meter much faster than standard drifting.

Whether you will truly enjoy Ridge Racer 6's single player gameplay is a crapshoot. If you have been playing games for a long time, odds are you will enjoy Ridge Racer 6 as it plays like many of the fun old-school simplistic racers: Out Run, Top Gear, Pole Position, Night Driver, etc. (I'll stop before I date myself any further!) However, if you are younger and have played games for a shorter time you may be more into tweaking your ride, street racing, licensed cars, and lots of extras - none of which Ridge Racer 6 offers.

MULTIPLAYER GAMEPLAY & XBOX LIVE FEATURES: B-
Difficulty to earn XBOX Live Achievement Points: Very Hard
Ridge Racer 6 offers one of most fun multiplayer experiences on XBOX Live. The online play is very smooth and it is a fantastic game to race online with. You get to experience all of the incredibly fast racing fun from the single player game while being able to play bumper cars with friends over Live! Unfortunately, it suffers from one massive flaw which brings down its score a ton. As you likely know, you can stream media off your PC to the 360 to replace your game's soundtrack or simply watch videos on your 360; however, if your 360 is setup to connect to your PC and you play Ridge Racer 6 online, you will suffer from lag so bad that the game is unplayable - it literally pauses every 3 seconds. The workaround to this is, of course, disconnecting the XBOX 360 from your PC via the Dashboard System tab before playing, but this is a rather annoying hassle. Though this issue could likely be fixed by Namco quite easily via an XBOX Live patch, at this point in time their Customer Support indicates they will not be fixing the glitch. So, instead of getting an A- in multiplayer, Ridge Racer 6 gets a B- for this terrible bug.

In terms of XBOX Live Achievements, Ridge Racer 6 makes it very hard to earn points. You can easily play for 10 hours and get less than 40 achievement points for it. Though I think some games give away points too easily like the 2K Sports and EA Sports games, this is a case where I feel the developer made it too hard to earn points.

It is also worthwhile to note that Namco is offering free cars to download over XBOX Live (and some music tracks that cost points as well); however, this is a bit deceiving as the cars you are downloading are already stored on the Ridge Racer 6 disc and all you are downloading from Live is an unlock "key" that makes them selectable.

OVERALL: B
Ridge Racer 6 keeps it simple. For the old-school gamer, this is the racer that you grew up with. The racer that was just about racing. For others, this game may not hold enough depth to keep your interest. That does not mean it is a bad game, but a type of racer you probably aren't used to playing. If you don't need the complexities of the modern day racer and care to give Ridge Racer 6 a shot, you likely will enjoy the gameplay it provides. A good buy after you've worn out your copy of PGR3.

Buy this game at GameStop

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