Ridge Racer Unbounded Review

Ridge Racer Unbounded

Shutter Bay presents a lawless playpen for daredevil racers, full of crumbling structures and fuel trucks only moments away from going up in flames. The word “DESTROY” paints the screen in conspicuously bold font, vying for the attention of each racer. This is a city begging to be torn asunder.

I traverse the abandoned streets of Shutter Bay at blistering speeds, leaving remnants of destruction on my path to victory. But a tinge of déjà vu lingers with each new race. The neon glow of the city, the readily destructible environments, the insistence on reducing opponents to immobile scraps of metal – all of these elements feel oddly familiar. Within a few moments the mystery unravels itself, reducing Ridge Racer Unbounded to a shallow assemblage of influences.

I’ve rammed into competitors like a kamikaze racer since 2004 (Burnout 3). Just two years ago I carefully cut corners and boosted my way to the finish line as each track collapsed in on itself (Split Second). Year after year I furiously race against the clock, hoping to shave off seconds in an effort gain the best possible time (every racing game). These memories represent the core tenants of Ridge Racer Unbounded, and as such, the novelty of Shutter Bay quickly dissipates.

Ridge Racer Unbounded

Most time in the game’s single-player mode will likely be spent with domination races that encourage environmental destruction to rack up more points. Players can also “frag” other competitors; I wish that meant throwing grenades into opposing vehicles, but it’s just a fancy way of renaming takedowns from similar racers. There are also time attack modes, drifting challenges, and the list goes on and on. It all leads back to a been-there-done-that sentiment that weighs down the Unbounded experience. The generic leveling system also contributes to that unfortunate feeling, where the only rewards are uninspired vehicles and even more repetitive races. Tangible incentives could have helped prevent the monotony of this continual grind, but as it stands, the game’s structure wears thin all too quickly.

Ridge Racer Unbounded is not a completely derivative experience, though. Never before have I encountered such a unique level of control, which specifically relates to the drifting mechanic. The simple push of a button creates a gateway that leads to hours of fun and triumph. The key lies in the hidden encouragement to use the drift button like a secondary accelerator. Unlike typical racing entries, a delicate balance between acceleration and braking does not reveal itself as the focal point – timing is the true obstacle standing in the way of 200-mph glory. After spending so much time pulling my hair out in frustration as I crash into wall after wall, the feeling when I finally “get it” is euphoric. With each tight corner my finger involuntarily readies itself to push that circle button and consequently burst into first place.

Even further enjoyment can be found on the outskirts of town, where the Ridge Racer community bases itself. Unbounded presents budding designers with tools to create their own unique cities full of custom-made tracks, various race types, and online competition. The most inspired designers are capable of creating singular environments steeped in devilish obstacles, looping turns, and visual spectacles. All of a sudden Ridge Racer Unbounded‘s scope expands immensely, and the unspoken barrier between developer and player is lifted – these inspired new cities and Shutter Bay combine to create a unique codependency where the two individual components are bettered by the other half.

Influence can be subtly effective or painfully obvious, and Ridge Racer Unbounded clearly falls into the latter category. In mere minutes I was reminded of each game Unbounded takes cues from, and the borrowed mechanics are in no way improved upon or innovated. Luckily, the rewarding drift controls and community features compensate for Unbounded‘s imitative downfalls. The result is a recommendable title for racing enthusiasts.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.