Ridge Racer 3D ReviewGareth Chadwick
Ridge Racer first appeared on consoles as a launch title for the first PlayStation all that time ago and has since spread through various consoles like wildfire, with barely a system since its release escaping the arcade-y racing goodness. In case you're still somehow uninitiated, however, it's a refreshingly easy series to get into with the emphasis more on keeping speed up than carefully controlling it and under no circumstances are you to slow down for any corners.
The game revolves around the drifting mechanic, which is easily used but difficult to master. Release the accelerator, turn and slam back on and you'll start sliding around the track like you're greased up and driving on ice, enabling you to take corners at any speed you like as long as you can handle it all. Naturally, the AI can get in the way, too, so you'll have to weave your way around them as you're storming your way up the straights. Or you can even take them on a corner with some creative drifting. As you drift you generate nitrous which, as you might expect, is used to boost your speed whenever you call for it.
Ridge Racer has always been about lap times and, as you can take corners at pretty much any speed you like, it's finely tuned for some lap time battles if you have friends with whom to battle. Not got any 3DS-owning friends? Then you can use the online high-score tables, which are always a welcome addition. What would have been even more welcome, however, would be the online multiplayer that was inexplicably left out. Whether it was due to an unwillingness on the developer's part or a rush to get the game ready for the 3DS' launch, there's no excuse and certainly no words that can sooth the grievous lack of any online multiplayer mode.
If you do have some of those 3DS-owning friends that are so rare who happen to buy Ridge Racer 3D you'll be happy to know that you can race against up to 3 of them via local wifi. I have been unable to test it out, however, as nobody I know has both a 3DS and Ridge Racer 3D. Reportedly its lag-free and good fun, though.
Thankfully, the Grand Prix mode (ie, career) should keep you going for quite a long time of casual play, unlocking cars and earning money as you go. The money is used to buy cars and, should you feel the need, upgrade your nitrous. The different types of nitrous are more like variations than upgrades, however; the default nitrous has three sections in the boost bar which can be used one at a time once filled, or in a group of two or three for a longer boost. The others tend to use the same boost bar but with either more sections that regenerate faster but don't last as long or fewer, bigger sections that take longer to recharge but last longer when you use them. There are more interesting ones, however, such as the Flex nitrous that lets you use your nitrous any time there's some in the bar (doing away with the sections entirely), or the boost that regenerates of its own accord, whether you're drifting or not. Cars can also be customised with 3 different designs, which you can also change the main color of to suit your mood. That, however, is as far as the customisation goes.
Of course, you have to unlock the ability to upgrade your nitrous, which is done by progressing further through the career mode. To earn further cash in addition to what you earn during the Grand Prix, you can also play the single player modes on offer. These consist of Quick Tour (you choose an amount of time in minutes and the game will put you into the correct amount of races on the right tracks to fill said time), Standard Race and One-Make Race, the latter of which has you racing against opponents who are using the same car as you are. There's also a Time Attack mode in which you can race against ghosts, but you won't earn any points for doing so.
There is also the StreetPass Duel. The game will download ghosts from people via StreetPass while in standby. You can then race against these ghosts and earn cash for winning (assuming you do win). You earn more for harder races, as you might expect.
Graphically, the game isn't too pretty. Whilst the 3D works fine it's hampered slightly by the horrendous lack of anti-aliasing. The cars, the tracks, the background, the edges; they're all jagged, but thankfully, once the action starts and you're speeding along roads, you'll quickly find yourself looking into the distance and, more importantly, it actually feels like you are looking into the distance. There is real depth to the 3D here, but for some gimmicks like confetti 'hitting' the screen as you pass by crowds, it's pretty fantastic. It's just a shame that the rest of the graphics look a little bit bland and flat, especially if you turn 3D off.
As you can see, there isn't too much content here. Whilst the Grand Prix mode is quite lengthy the only thing to keep you going is unlocking more cars and eventually getting the fastest cars in the game. The only multiplayer available is the local multiplayer and the StreetPass Duel. Again, the online multiplayer is an opportunity that is sorely missed. However, what is here is a fast racer with plenty of fun for those who are fine with sticking to single player.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.