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Ridge Racer 6 Xbox 360

Published by Namco/Electronic Arts
Developed by Namco
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £49.99

Ridge Racer 6, an introduction.

The Xbox 360, like the Xbox before it, is shaping up to be a great console for racing games. The console has only been launched for two months and already we have the likes of Project Gotham Racing 3 and Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Whilst both of these are racing games, they are very different in nature. Here we have the third racing title to appear on the Xbox 360, Ridge Racer 6, which is the latest in Namco's renowned series, to offer its own unique style of racing.

What's the game about?

As the title suggests this is the latest title in the famed Ridge Racers series. Ridge Racer games have always been about high-speed arcade races where braking simply isn't an option if you want to win. Corners are taken by drifting around them. To begin with it's an unusual experience and it's kind of like a video game version of Scalextric. Once you've experienced the joys of high speed drifting it's easy to understand why the series has been so successful over the years. Ridge Racer 6 captures all the best elements of the series to date and offers both online and offline modes for you to enjoy. Single-player modes include World Xplorer (offering 200+ races), Global Time Attack and Single Race. The multiplayer modes are Online Battle (using Xbox Live for 2-14 players and races can be ranked and unranked) and Multi Battle (2-player split-screen). The Online Battle mode even includes a spectator mode which is handy if you just want to watch others race before jumping in yourself.

What's good about the game?

Ridge Racer 6 is a fast and furious arcade racer, with an amazing sense of speed that somehow manages to keep you coming back for more both online and offline. Last year we reviewed the PSP version of Ridge Racer and that game saw the introduction of the nitrous boost. The nitrous boost makes a welcome return in Ridge Racer 6 and this time you can have double and triple nitrous boosts. The nitrous gauge is made up of three charges and you'll fill these charges by performing drifts with the high speed drifts filling the charges more quickly. You can either wait for one charge to fill and then use the nitrous by pressing the B button or you can wait for two charges to fill and use double nitrous by pressing the Y button. Alternatively you can gain a triple nitrous by allowing your gauges to completely fill and then pressing the B and Y buttons for a real speed boost. As you progress to the more difficult races in the World Xplorer mode, the nitrous boost becomes more important. There are races where timing your usage of the nitrous correctly can determine whether you win the race or finish outside the top four. Seeing as you need to win a race in order to complete it you'll need to time your use of the nitrous just right and it all adds to the challenge.

The World Xplorer mode offers many races and Namco have added some variation by putting certain restrictions on some of the races. In addition to the normal races, you'll have races where you can't use nitrous, races where the nitrous gauge only fills when nitrous is being used, one-on-one races and four-machine races. With 130 cars in the game you'd be forgiven for thinking there wouldn't be that much difference in how they handle. Pleasingly, the cars actually feel quite different from each other. The cars are categorised by their types of drift. There are standard, dynamic and middle drift types. Standard drift cars are general purpose cars and handle well in most situations whereas middle drift cars are not suitable for long drifts and dynamic drift cars need careful handling and are really only for advanced drivers. Even when you first start the World Xplorer mode, where many of the cars are locked, there are several cars on offer so you should find one that suits your driving style, which is important in a racing title of this nature.

What's not so good about the game?

I suppose the biggest complaint with the game is that gamers will find themselves wanting more courses to race on. In order to complete the World Xplorer mode you'll have to race over 200 races which means you'll soon become tired of seeing the 15 courses on offer (even 30 if you count the reversed versions) over and over again. It's also a bit of a mystery as to why the AI seems to begin some races with their nitrous fully charged and is able to do a triple nitrous boost right from the off. When you hit barriers the animations feel quite primitive (it kind of feels like you're rebounding off the sides) and the experience is a little jarring to say the least.

How does it look?

Ridge Racer 6 looks good and whilst it's not up to the visual standards of Project Gotham Racing 3, it definitely has that next generation look about it. That said though you will notice some aliasing on the cars (which actually look quite good) and you'll also notice that the textures on the roads and other objects probably aren't as detailed as you might expect from the Xbox 360. Still the frame rate is impeccable and even though races typically have 14 cars involved, it never drops a frame which is excellent. The draw distance is pretty amazing too and it really does seem like you can see for miles at times. You'll see some pretty impressive motion blurring when using the nitrous boosts which really gives an amazing sensation of speed. The presentation of the game as a whole is impressive and Namco deserves credit for giving the menus a sense of style without making them cumbersome to use.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Ridge Racer 6 won't cause deaf gamers any problems. The only verbal information you'll miss out on is the announcer's (or as the game calls him, the DJ) comments. These comments let you know when your nitrous is ready to use and when another racer has used a nitrous boost etc. In truth they are of little value because a glance at the nitrous gauge will tell you when it's ready to use. You can also see when an opponent has used a nitrous boost. The nitrous gauge glows orange when a single boost can be used, green when a double boost can be used and blue when a triple boost can be used, which is very informative. The game manual weighs in at around 40 pages and is actually very useful. It fully explains all of the game modes and even the basic information such as how to drift.

Final thoughts.

With a couple of great racing titles already available for the Xbox 360 it was important that Ridge Racer 6 was a quality addition to the longstanding series and thankfully the game hasn't disappointed. Offering a strictly arcade style of racing, Ridge Racer 6 is a very different experience from NFS: MW and PGR 3 but it's still a very enjoyable game that's really addictive. It's a shame there weren't more courses on offer and I daresay some would have expected the graphics to have looked a little better but overall it's a great Ridge Racer title and one of the best Xbox 360 games so far.

Overall Game Rating: 8.6/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Ridge Racer 6 is a great addition to the Ridge Racer series that's not only a very enjoyable arcade racer but also one of the best games on the Xbox 360 at the moment.