Namco has finally released Ridge Racer in Japan, which many feel (including us) is the first worthy sequel to Ridge Racer. Unlike Ridge Racer Revolution, Rage Racer has been completely programmed from scratch, and the end result may be one of the best racing games to hit the PlayStation.
Rage Racer allows you to race with 13 different cars, and that isn't even mentioning any of the hidden vehicles that are available when you finish the game. If you don't like the way your car looks, Rage offers a very unique vehicle editor which allows you to change the body and trim colors of the car in addition to the logo displayed on its hood. You can select from several premade logos or actually design one yourself in a rudimentary painting program. (Needless to say, some of the ones we drew up are simply unfit for printing.) As you win races and earn more money, you can use your winnings to upgrade your car (improving its handling, max speed, grip or acceleration), or simply buying a new vehicle altogether.
Although there are only two completely separate tracks consisting of a "main" track and an oval (available at later classes), there are actually quite a few different racing circuits. Through a very well-designed track, three different paths are intertwined within the main track, therein creating three different courses. Once you achieve first place in each track, you finish that "class" of tracks, and move on to the next. There are five in all.
Each class offers new cars and a greater difficulty level. Once you finish all of the track classes, a secret sixth class opens up.
The courses are well-detailed, sporting spectacular waterfalls, long bridges and the obligatory dark tunnels bathed in yellow light in the true Ridge Racer trademarked style. There are plenty of rolling hills, tough turns and colorful scenery to make any racing enthusiast's eyes glaze over while screaming through the tracks. While racing these courses, Namco has added a nice touch by having the time of day slowly change as you progress through the race. When you start a race the weather may be bright and sunny, but as you near the finish line, the sky could change to a cloudy atmosphere.
The racing physics are very similar to the other Ridge Racer offerings. The name of the game is precision, and the ability to execute a picture-perfect powerslide at will. When you run into things, you don't wreck, you simply lose speed and slightly ricochet, according to your speed.
Right now it doesn't appear that any sort of Two-player Mode will be available through a link cable or otherwise, but this is so promising a game, it may not matter.
With great aesthetics and the same gameplay that made the original Ridge Racer so popular, Rage Racer looks to be a sure-fire hit
- MANUFACTURER - Namco
- THEME - Racing
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Download Rage Racer
I have heard that this should not be considered a sequel to the Ridge Racer series. There is no way you can convince me of that'as you know, I love the series, so I welcomed this game with open arms. This game is everything the past two games have been, with more'much more.
Rage Racer has many of the original characteristics of its predecessors with the addition a few extras: awesome new tracks (including an oval); a challenging Grand Prix mode that requires you to build up your bank before accessing new cars; customizable appearances of the cars; and giant hills to race up and down. Rage Racer adds some of the key ingredients that were lacking in the first two games and is the funnest yet.
For the two Playstation owners left on earth that are not familiar with this series, let me give you a little history lesson. Ridge Racer was one of the first racing games available on the hot new PSX machine. The graphics were excellent for the time, but the control was a bit touchy and the tracks were rather short. The goal was to beat the black car so it would become available to you to race. Many attempted this feat'few were sucessfull. The bottom line on the original? It was OK but there was nothing else out there to challenge it. Then came Ridge Racer Revolution. This game added new tracks and some different cars but basically played the same. The controls were a bit better but still not great. That brings us up to the release of Rage Racer.
What makes the latest Racer better than the previous? The biggest improvement is the whole racing concept. In the previous versions, you had three tracks. Finish in first place and you win. Rage Racer is different in that you only have one car to start with and the object is to finish in the top three. If you finish in the top three, you will win money, depending on your finish and the track. After you finish in the top three on all tracks, you move up a class. The cars get faster and the race gets more challenging. As you slowly acquire cash, you will realize that your car is not adequate any longer. No problem. You can drop some of that bank roll on a tune-up which adds 10-15 MPH to your top speed, or you can purchase a new car. Even though you still race on the same tracks in each class, you now have a motivation to finish higher to earn more money to buy cool new stuff. It's the old carrot-on-a-stick theory and it works quite well.
Another cool thing about this title is the new tracks. The tracks have your usual hair-pin turns and high speed straightaways but a new addition is the hills. You will find yourself not just winding around flat roads or roads with little bumps but you actually drive up and down large hills. This added a whole new feel to the game. This was a dimension that was definitely missing in the past but has been corrected now. Also along the track front, there is an oval track that simulates stock car racing. This also added a new dimension to the game.
Another thing worth mentioning is the ability to customize your car. When I say customize, yeah, I mean you can select automatic or manual transmission, change the grip on your tires, and average stuff like that. But what's really cool, is you can actually change the color of the paint on your car. Not good enough? You can draw a custom logo for the hood. Or, for the more subtle, you can name your race team and the name will be displayed on the windshield of your car during the race. Now I personally only fiddled with this for a little while and don't have the time to go all out in designing a car, if you buy a game to squeeze every ounce of features from it, you can kill hours just messing with your car before even starting the race.
Of course, there is always the downside. As small as it may be, Rage Racer does have a flaw that seems to have filtered down from the original. The flaw is in the control. I will admit that it has gotten much better, but it is still too touchy. The slightest of moves pushes you into the wall. Also, I try to play all racing games with a steering wheel. After changing the controller settings 25 times, I finally got to where I could somewhat control the car without slamming into the wall around every corner.
For a racing game, Rage Racer has some of the best graphics around. If you look past the few pop-ups and polygon break-ups you will be quite impressed. The feeling of speed is awesome and the scenic backgrounds are perfect. Make sure to check out the waterfall. A very subtle detail that some people may not even notice is the clouds. When night hits and the clouds get dark, it is beyond realistic. I was very impressed with the graphics.
This series is one of the best racing series on the market. Rage Racer adds some depth to a game that needed it. The addition of the oval track was nice but I would still like to see about 8 tracks to choose from'but that is just me being greedy for more. I think that if Namco can keep refining the controls, they should have a near-perfect game on their hands.
Fast-paced racing action on a home system? For racing fans who were disappointed by the arcade port-overs of Daytona USA and Virtua Racing...fear not! Ridge Racer for the PlayStation is everything its arcade teammate was-and more.
Go, Ridge Racer, Go
All the arcade thrills are intact. As in Daytona, you choose from four blazing standard vehicles, but Ridge Racer has eight "hidden" cars, too (see ProTip). Moreover, each course is beautifully rendered, unlike the stiff-looking polygon tracks of Virtua Racing.
The track is limited to three courses, but they're enough to satisfy your need for speed. The first course pits you against a 12-car lineup over two laps, the second course adds a third lap, and the third course is just you against a blazing yellow Ferrari. If you place first in these three courses, you race on reversed tracks. The final race against an elusive black Lamborghini Countach will gain you respect...and, reportedly, the right to drive the Countach.
Vroom with a View
The superb graphics take the checkered flag over Daytona. The awesome rendering depicts beautiful cars, rural and city landscapes, helicopters, and more...but you'll only see them for a split second as you zoom past.
Ridge provides only two views-through the wind-shield and behind the car-but a gimmicky multiple-view racing feature would be lost when the action is this fast.
The sound is another definite plus. Without any of Daytona's caterwauling, Ridge goes for a thumping house sound with great commentary by the announcer.
The control is almost flawless. The response feels more solid than Daytona's, but you have to be careful about your choice of car. Some cars don't have the power to accelerate quickly after a crash, while others can take turns with reckless abandon.
Livin' on the Ridge
The best racing game to date for home systems, Ridge Racer definitely outpaces Daytona USA. Until Cruisin' USA for the Ultra 64 arrives, Ridge is king of the track.
- Keep a Unger on the accelerator and rest another lightly on the brake. When going Into curves, hold down both buttons simultaneously to prevent your car from fishtailing while maintaining top speed.
- A good passing tactic Is to move up to a car's rear bumper, then swerve into the car as you're taking a turn.
- Go wide into curves, especially in the tunnels where obstacles lurk.
- For the best start, gun the engine during the countdown when the timer reaches "1." Then swerve to the right and let cars you've passed bump you, which adds to your lead.
If you're looking for the PlayStation pack-in game, you might not have to look any further. According to Namco, there's a good chance Ridge Racer, a PlayStation port of the arcade road machine, will ride along with every PlayStation unit. You'll drive in a 12-car jam or duel one-on-one in two-car races against the computer. There's already a Japanese version, but look for Namco to customize the game for U.S. drivers.
Publishing new Ridge Racer titles for the PlayStation appears to be an annual event for Namco. Rage Racer, the third in the series after Ridge Racer (released in '94) and Ridge Racer Revolution (released in '95), moves the competition to what appears to be a European setting rather than the West Coast atmosphere of the two previous Ridge games.
A most welcome addition to the outstanding racing series is the Grand Prix mode, where you compete in five classes, each consisting of three or four courses. Your earnings from these races can be used to upgrade and fine-tune your vehicle so you can take on the top racers.
Rage soups up the racing action with slick graphic enhancements, including onscreen gauges with an oversized tachometer. The driver's viewpoint has been lowered, making the scenery appear to whiz by even faster than in the earlier Ridge games. Also for the first time in the series, Namco has added cool computer-generated clips at the beginning and end of the game and between stages.
Rage Racer will also up the challenge to your driving skills. Namco's designers have created tougher courses with scattered hills and tight corners that force you to shift gears frequently to crank up a steep hill or to decelerate quickly before taking a sharp curve. Another cool technique is aerodynamic slipstreaming--pulling into the slipstream of the vehicle in front of you to cut down on drag.
This Racer's an automatic for Ridge vets--gentlemen, get ready to Rage.
Those expecting another Ridge Racer may initially be disappointed with Rage Racer. Although the game starts in low gear, Rage picks up momentum to become an excellent racing game.
Rage adds sim elements to the flashy arcade-quality graphics of other Namco racers. You start the game with only one car, but you can buy better cars (or upgrade an existing one) with credits you accumulate if you rank in the top three slots in a rate. As you upgrade your car, the races get faster and more intense, especially in the higher classes.
Unfortunately, the game is only for one player, so it's you against the A.I. Although you race against 12 cars in the Grand Prix, only three or four of these will provide you with any real challenge.
Once you get over the game's initial lull, you will have plenty to rage about with this cool new Racer.
- When approaching a hairpin curve, keep your finger on the gas or the brake; other-wise, you'll lose traction and may fishtail all over the track.
- Try not to take the ramps at top speed; you'll catch some air and land front first into the ground, slow-ing you down.
- Let fast-approaching cars ram you from behind--this slows them down and gives you a speed boost.
- Use the behind-the-car view to see if anyone is racing in your blind spot.
The rendered opening cinema is a knockout During races, the tracks are very detailed, though breakup tends to creep in at times. Unfortunately, most tracks have depressing gray tones and lack the vibrant colors of the Ridge Racer series.
The game has a variety of excellent music tracks, and there are atmospheric tire squeals and crowd cheers. The announcer with her sophomoric remarks and innuendoes has to go, though.
The controls are excellent, but their responsiveness depends on the configuration and car you're driving.
Once you pass the slower cars, the pace and fun pick up. Again Namco ranks high with a winning racing title.
The PlayStation is sending Japanese gamers off to the 32-bit races in more ways than one: Ridge Racer, the port of Namco's awesome arcade driving game, is bundled with the unit. Great move!
You can drive in a 12-car jam or in a two-car race against the computer. The game moves at very high speeds, especially if you choose the faster cars available in the game.
As in the arcades, Racer sports a single track, but it's fairly large. If you can beat the clock at various checkpoints, you can extend the number of laps and even add extra lengths onto the track. Still, it would be nice to have more tracks. Ridgeracing GamePros are hot on the heels of a Japanese code that opens up this CD.
The control is very responsive in the first-person perspective. With the behind-the-car view, the controls are a little sluggish and tend to slow down in spots.
Ridge Racer via the PlayStation obliterates the common problem of CD access time. Once the game is loaded, you can remove the disc!
Try this ProTip: Play your favorite music CD in the PlayStation and listen to it while you're racing. If that's still too much access time for you, you can play Galaxian, a classic Namco arcade shooter, while the game's loading.
If you've played the U.S. coinop, you know the textured polygon visuals kick asphalt. On a TV, the graphics look incredible overall. The awesome first-person view feels like you're really on the track.
Almost all of the arcade version's polygons are present; this game appears like a near carbon copy of the original. However, despite Racer's eyecatching sheen, the paint job has scratches: Sprites glitch up in some areas, and slowdown plagues some spots, especially in the behind-the-car view.
Racer's super sounds include a very cool echo effect in the tunnel. The six selectable techno-rock tracks are equally great and suit this fast-paced game very well.
Ridge as Bridge
It looks like Ridge Racer's a great ride in any language. When the PlayStation hits the U.S., let's hope Ridge Racer's part of the deal.
- Play Galaxian while Racer's loading. Shoot all the Galaxian enemy ships to get more cars.
- Letting off the gas to slow down through turns, then accelerating when you're into the turn makes your car skid. For top speed in turns, simultaneously press the gas and brake buttons.
- Just like in real race driving, begin turns on the outside edge so your car can take them at high speeds.
- Do all your passing on the staight-aways, where there's more room.
Ridge Racer was Namco's answer to Virtua Racing in the arcades. Now it will be the Sony PlayStation's answer to Virtua Racing Deluxe for the 32X and Daytona for the Sega Saturn.
This 32-bit version of the first-person-perspective racing game will be virtually identical to the coin-op car crasher. The single circuitous course will be familiar to video drivers who've made the wild run along the "ridge." It twists up through the mountains, along the seashore, and onto city streets. You'll race against the clock to record the fastest time on the course.
The PlayStation will paint gorgeous polygonal, texture-mapped graphics. They're exact duplicates of the arcade visuals, says Namco, so expect a slick-looking ride. That means you'll cruise fast and furious through dark tunnels and across expansive bridges. You'll go face-to-face with crash barriers along wicked turns and run up your opponents' tailpipes.
You'll choose your wheels from a showroom stocked with the latest and greatest that the grand tourismo has to offer. The game doesn't have too many other options though; basically you'll choose a manual transmission or AT
However, Namco plans to increase the control choices for PlayStation racers.
Although the multibutton PS controller will probably be a handful for most gamers, Namco will produce its own two-hand controller that flexes in the middle for better, tighter turning. The new peripheral will support several Namco PlayStation games, including Cyber Sled.
A Great Race?
Ridge Racer will be the first PS game out of the gate. Slide behind the wheel and take the PlayStation for a spin.
Like Namco's other arcade hit Tekken, Ridge Racer for the PlayStation is set to finish first. A port of Namco's awesome arcade racing game, this is a must-drive for everyone.
The high-speed, one-player action includes a 12-car jam and a two-car race against the CPU. Although you get four cars to choose from, you race on only one track. Fortunately, it's massive. More tracks would have given Ridge Racer nice variety, but you can add or subtract extra laps, and you can also add lengths by beating the clock at various checkpoints. You can also up the car-selection roster to a dozen metal beauties if you get a perfect score on Galaxian, the shooter that you can play while the disc is loading. Other track and car options become available when you win all the races.
A first-person view puts you right on the track, which makes the hairpin turns and straightaways fast and realistic. Racers who tend toward carsickness may prefer the alternate behind-the-car perspective. Textured polygon graphics kick asphalt, despite a few glitches with the sprites and occasional slowdown. Hea\y-hitting tunes and sound effects, like the helicopter that swoops in from overhead, rev the racing action. If you qualify, you might even get to race in the elusive black Lamborghini.
Ridge Racer was a breakthrough title for the PlayStation, and that has raised high expectations for the sequel.You'd expect a leap in graphics and added game-play on top of the features so beloved in the original.
Namco succeeds in touching up game-play and adds new music, plus remixes of the original tunes.The graphics differ a little bit from the original, but they certainly aren't better. Ridge Racer Revolution definitely has a lot more extras now, and it lasts longer than the original. It still packs a lot of fun though, especially with the Mad Catz steering wheel, and is a must purchase for racing fans.
Graphics - 8
Sound/FX - 8
Gameplay - 8
Rating - 8
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