Namco Bandai Games America Inc.’s Ridge Racer Unbounded for Sony Corp.’s Playstation 3 and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 is a steady drift into vehicular destruction with simulation handling, in-depth unlocks, and track building functionality.
Ridge Racer Unbounded includes a single-player mode divided into sub-districts of a city called Shatter Bay. Each district includes a set of races that require points to unlock. Users earn points through races like Domination Race, Drift Attack, Shindo Racing, Frag Attacks, and Time Attacks.
Domination Races allow users to earn boost by destroying or tailing rival vehicles. Each boost can be used to target destructible landmarks in the course which can open new shortcuts. Drift Attack is a pure point accruement mode to drift and earn points within the allotted time. Shindo Racing trades destruction for drifts to earn boost. Frag Attacks require users to take down as many vehicles in the time limit. And Time Attacks require users to escape cops or conquer stunt tracks.
The controls are solid with acceleration and brake on analog triggers and a boost button. Handling can vary between all the fictional vehicles. A dose of simulation controls to hone drift technique is welcome, though the arcade experience can be wrecked when one spinout or bump from the AI can lose race.
AI racers are aggressive and can make mistakes. Most races require a near flawless run to nab first, though users can eventually unlock new races and districts through point accumulation via destruction or drifting.
Multiplayer online allows users to compete in eight-player races or publish a custom track online for others to compete in. The track creator is grid-based and easy to use. Unfortunately, online racers can be hard to find in quick matches or other modes. Online races were lag free and stable.
The graphics engine is solid at 30 frames-per-second. Each Shatter Bay district is well-built with plenty of cars items to destroy. A flaw is that certain portions of the track that look destructible are not to lead to brick wall collisions.
The sound engine is hypnotic with top techno tracks that pulsate in each race. The Ridge Racer franchise is known for a selection of great techno, and the latest continues to hold the claim.
Ridge Racer Unbounded is an entertaining change of direction for the franchise. The spin-off offers a great challenge and race type selection, though the title could benefit from more arcade handling to stay in tune with the property.