Cart: Ridge Racer 7 Cab: PS3 Coin: Namco Bandai Games
Chilli con carne and cauliflower cheese; doesn’t sound particularly appetising, does it? It’s actually bloody marvellous but whilst you’re still repulsed at the thought of it: go and look in the mirror.
That’s the exact same face that I get presented with every time I try and explain the appeal of Ridge Racer to the uninitiated.
The birth of the PS3 wouldn’t have been a proper Sony launch unless it came with a Ridge Racer game. As if ashamed by their traitorous defection to the dark-side with RR6 being an Xbox 360 exclusive, Namco duly produced RR7 in record-time for the subsequent PS3 launch. That said, it wasn’t really a new game was it, Namco? It’s just RR6 with a bit of spit and polish, isn’t it?
Despite RR7 being possibly the weakest argument ever for applying a different number to the end of a game, it still has a great deal to offer as a title in its own right. There are a few new and extremely good tracks; the inclusion of slipstreaming makes races even closer than before and online play is as engaging and hotly-contested as ever. It’s arguably a little bit easier than its predecessor thanks to various trinkets that can be purchased for your cars, which to be honest was a bit of a let-down given that I consider myself to be a battle-hardened Ridge Racer. Yet flying around the super-smooth tracks, awash with lush visuals and hypnotic trance music, is still as utterly addictive as before and in the fastest cars the experience will leave you feeling completely spaced-out and other-worldly.
As with all RR games, it’s a slow-burner that takes too long to get going but I could describe many of my closest friends in the same manner, so I’m certainly not going to hold it against a game. And to those more nostalgic Voxelites out there: it remains the last true-blood entry in the home-console series with 2012’s Unbounded being one of those strange East-meets-West developed hybrids that lacks the purist wonder and conviction of either camp.
Ridge Racer has never really been everyone’s cup-of-tea. A visceral arcade experience loosely based upon the experience of driving; it has more in common with your memories of pushing toy cars around the carpet than it does the harsh realities of the real-world beasts that it models itself upon.