Release Date: March 27th, 2012
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360], PlayStation 3
Rated: T for Teen
Who can say no to a fun racing relaunch that bring street and race cars to, well, the streets, along with explosions. No, this isn’t Blur. This game gives you a fully destructible environment and adds a speed boost that gives enough power to knock an opponent out of the competition. Sorry, it’s not Burnout or FlatOut. It even goes as far to give some amazing cutscences, detailing the devastating end to yourself and others. And no, this isn’t Split/Second. This leaves one question, what the heck is it?
Being straight forward, it’s a replica of everything, including Ridge Racer elements for most parts of gameplay. Bugbear Entertainment were the developers of this installment and seemed to have had a couple relative ideas during the creative process.
This isn’t to say that the game is a rework of other titles as it genuinely keeps its arcade style true. When picking up power, it requires the same drifting skills, jumps and chasing cars as the previous versions. However, when you’re looking for that great racing feel, you’re in the right game. Everything from Shindo, Street cars and Race cars will burn the concrete and destroy anything within its path.
Your speed boost and drifting skills are the concept of each race. Power will allow you in certain races to break through walls and create shortcuts through different types of enviroments or even frag your competition to complete inexistence. Nitro in games like Shindo racing will give you the definitive edge to gain the number one spot and prove nice guys finish first.
Be forewarned, the A.I. will not back down to your challenge, nor is there a way to adjust the games difficulty. With that in mind, the same fragging technique can be done to you; and in every other race, it does. The competitive feel is downright realistic and appealing.
Options are quite limited, no matter how you look at it. From the main menu you’re given Shatter Bay, which is the single player campaign for Unbounded. There are seven areas and well over 100 events to partake in. However, inside each area, events are locked until you are able to reach a certain District Score. The score is based on your driving skills, final racing position, frags, caused explosions and more.
For some gamers this may be a bit difficult as unlocking other areas will prove to be a challenge. Most race district scores are in increments from 5k and cost a pretty penny to unlock additional tracks. Thankfully your overall district score helps unlock other areas in Shatter Bay.
Next option is Dominate the World, which is the multiplayer experience. It’s a bit less stressful as the single player mode and AI, but the same concepts still exist. Nothing exceptional stands out other than competitors to actually talk to during events.
Creating a city (My Cities) is the biggest highlight for Unbounded. As a side note, it’s also a quick way to rank up. If you are not enjoying the races in Shatter Bay, here you can create an entire city, choose the game types, players, weather and more. Then the fun comes in as you build the track itself. You can choose from destructible items, and explosive equipment with your track that can include turns and passageways as you wish them to be. From there pick the type of vehicles you want, test the track to make it active.
When creating the layout of the map, you’re presented with a grid where you place each portion the track together with blocks, indicating whether you will keep straight or make turns. You can literally make the map as small or big as humanly possible.
The downfall I discovered is the Time Attack. Cops are not available for all modes within the time attack, especially in the creation of the your city. However, as you progress and play your own maps, you continue to unlock different city-like environments, angles and turns for your grid to create and enhance your already created models.
Graphics were a bit on the poor side in comparison to other modern day racers. As stated before, it definitely gives you the arcade feel, but what it doesn’t give it a detailed environment. Each race and area looks identical; nothing stands out as a defying moment. In addition is the very poor audio selection used in Unbounded. There are different titles for the soundtrack, but all have the same techno sound. This is a huge disappointment in regards to not at least giving players a custom track option.
Controls work well as you are expected to master cutting corners, using drift and boost. It’s that Fast and the Furious feel that you must become accustomed to if you plan to dominate each event.
Hate to say this, but if disappointing gamers was the mission here; mission accomplished. Ridge Racer Unbounded fails hard to deliver a lasting entertaining impression. Possibly not the first, but I found it bizarre that if you drove off track and needed to reset the vehicle, you’re required to pause the game and choose that option.
Unbounded is not a bad overall game, but it’s not a winner either. The repetitiveness kicks in pretty quick due a lack of content, ultimately leaving this Ridge Racer better than its successor, but not better than other racing games in the market today.
Overall Rating: 3/5