Paying money for a core game and then building onto it with microtransactions is an interesting concept. You get so many cars and tracks on the Ridge Racer disc, and then purchase anything extra that you may want. This gives you the opportunity to ignore the content you aren’t interested in. In theory, the model should make for a more customizable experience.
When you start out, you’ll pick between four teams. Your choice has little effect, but you’re required to pick one for a reason. Every so often, your mission will change, but your overall goal is for your team to be on top of the leaderboard. You’ll also get bonus points for online races if you defeat opponents designated for your team to race.
Sometimes your objective is against one particular team, while other teams gang up on you for tag-team action. The most beneficial match is when it is your team against all three others, so no matter who you beat online, you will get bonus points. Points are then used to upgrade your cars.
Sadly, they are universal upgrades, so switching between cars can be done freely without consequence. I say “sadly” because I like having a loyalty model to racing games. You upgrade one particular car, and if you choose to switch, you have to start the upgrade process over. Each car handles just a little different with the drift heavy physics, the differences aren’t enough to consider one better than the other, though. The top speeds are all the same, too, but the gearing is a little different. The car that resembles an ultra-sleek exotic car has a higher red-line than the car that resembles the modern muscle car.
The beginning in Ridge Racer is rough. You have a low top-speed, the physics took some time for me to get to used to and I probably lost to ten ghosts in a row before I started winning. But once everything started to click, the game became drastically more enjoyable.
Lacking a “career” mode is a double-edged sword in Ridge Racer. Most of your time spent will be either racing ghosts or battling online. This makes great “bite-sized” sittings if you have 15 minutes or so to burn, but it was rather hard to get into a serious Ridge Racer session.
If you have a 3G Vita, you can do Ghost races (plus the obvious offline quick race and default ghost race), but can’t race other people in full functioning races. With the current trend of Vita games that use 3G to play synchronous multiplayer, that is hardly a fault or disappointment. You can still post your ghosts and connect to the team hub, which gives you your objective and awards you with points based on team placement.
Having only so many cars and tracks is a problem, but you get a code which allows “Gold pass” downloads of now-released tracks and cars (and music), so the value has been increased a little since the Japanese release. When the game launched, these were not available to download but were released weekly afterwards.
Hopefully, the content continues on a regular basis. A few cars and a track a month would ideally keep me playing on a regular basis. After sinking some serious hours into the game, while the model may be drastically different than we are used to, it is a solid game. It is truly hard to sell to anyone that does not like competitive racing. Lacking a career mode of any sort potentially killed half their market, but for the other half of racing fans, $30 gets you some serious drift-heavy, competitive racing fun.
- Fun drift physics
- More budget priced than the Japanese variant
- Serious, competitive racing
- No career mode
- Online-focused game model