Gorgeous. That is the first word that will immediately jump into players’ minds when they start up Namco’s Ridge Racer for the PSP. The game looks the part of a sexy diva who is just aching to get under your thumbs. It truly glistens on Sony’s new handheld, and, if nothing else, is a fantastic showpiece for how the PSP can handle presentation. The cars and environments compliment each other beautifully, and everything adds up to a virtual feast for the eyes. The game also moves along at an exhilarating clip, with a silky smooth frame rate that makes it hard to believe the game is actually running on a handheld system.As great as the game looks, its musical treatment is equal to the task. From new tracks to classic and remixed Ridge Racer themes, many players will find themselves swept up in the game’s synthesized style. Yes, it is safe to say that Ridge Racer will sell more PSP systems at launch than any other game on the shelf, based purely on presentation.
It doesn’t hurt that Ridge Racer is also a blast to play. Like previous entries in the series, this game is all about blazing speeds, powerslides, and over-the-top racing. For players looking for a racer that is unapologetic about its arcade roots, Ridge Racer delivers on all of its promises. Fans of arcade racers will immediately feel at home here, and those new to the experience aren’t likely to have many problems slipping into the groove. Like any arcade racer, the controls are more or less dummy-proof, and they handle like a dream. As expected, the buttons control gas, brake, and nitrous boost. Drifting around corners fills up the nitrous, which can be released for a quick boost of speed. If mastering the powerslide and drift were important to the series before, they are now integral to the experience. Players also have the ability to shift between the third and first-person at the press of a button.
Despite the monstrous production values, it is possible that many will find fault in Ridge Racer‘s strict adherence to formula in its old age. Save for the change of platform and amazing visuals, this is the same Ridge Racer that people were playing a decade ago. Aside from a few minor tweaks here and there, not much has changed, and to come so far with so little innovation may be considered by some to be the franchise’s Achilles heel. For better or worse, this is the same old Ridge Racer with a new shiny coat of paintA