bitparade: Ridge Racer 6 (XBox 360)

Ah, Ridge Racer, how I loved thee! Well up until the slightly average PS2 launch title Ridge Racer V that is. Mind you, I still play Ridge Racer Type 4 today. This is the opinion of many gamers that played Ridge Racer and the rest of the series on the PlayStations and in the arcades. It’s always been a bit of a light-hearted fun, and the series has appeared on 4 brand spanking new consoles, including the most recent on the XBox 360, over its 10 year history.

A lot can happen in 10 years and a lot can change, and Ridge Racer has been no exception. After the disappointment that was Ridge Racer V, Namco seemingly wanted to distance itself from the series with R:Racing Evolution, a strange Gran Turismo/ Ridge Racer hybrid that didn’t really work due to its difficult handling. Then Son’y PSP launched with the game that has seemingly brought the series back on form.

But enough of the history lesson, and back to the present, Ridge Racer 6 is only the second game from the series to not appear on a Sony console and Microsoft seem to be hoping that Namco’s racer will bring them the same sort of success that Sony has achieved in the console market for their second system. Although from whats available here, although great fun, Microsoft have a much better game in Project Gotham Racing 3. Thats not knocking Ridge Racer 6 in anyway however, as it is indeed a very well made game with plenty to do, and its a nice option from EA and Namco to offer.

Unsurprisingly it handles just like its handheld cousin, and even includes the nitrous that appears in Ridge Racers. This is a very good thing as it makes Ridge Racer 6 accessible to everyone, but also leaves plenty of scope for you to become a master and hold your own when you take the game online. And as usual sliding your car perfectly round the track brings with it a adrenaline rush that has only been replicated in the Burnout series and OutRun 2. Although one advantage it has over the most recent Burnout is the absence of the stopping and starting due to Takedowns.

Ridge Racer 6’s only problem lies in the fact it just doesn’t feela s ast as other games in the series, or indeed the entire genre until you use your nitrous that is. Then the game really speeds up and feels like Ridge Racer should. You have to earn your nitrous by power sliding round corners, and the more nitrous you earn, the faster you can go and the more successful in the race you will be, obviously depending on how well you control the car you are driving.

The problem with the Ridge Racer series is, it was always rather shallow in terms of variety, including Ridge Racer Type 4 with its 300+ cars to unlock, and while RR6 tries to change this a little wihr a few different varieties of races, although its all more or less the same thing. But this is fine, Ridge Racer has never been a game for you to sit down and spend hours and hours playing the game, it has always been designed for you to switch on, have a couple of blasts of a few races and put something else on, and this is exactly why you should own Ridge Racer 6, in between playing Quake 4, Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo and the rest of the 360 line-up which takes it self far too seriously, its a simple solution to stick Ridge 6 on, chill out and have some fun.

Its nice to see something as light-hearted and fun on a console not created by Nintendo and for this Ridge Racer 6 deserves to be in anyones collection. It might not be as great as the first 4 titles in the series and feel a lot like the PSP title of a similar name, but it is the ying to PGR3’s yang in 360’s garage.

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