Ridge Racer Revolution from Namco
If only we could drive like this on the street.

Rating : graphics 95, sound 89, interface 88, fun factor 92, overall 91

You can't remember the first time you felt like this. Palms sweaty, heartbeat racing. Revving the purring engine you listen to it roar with unrestrained power as you prepare for the green light. Momentarily you're distracted by the knock-out gorgeous woman in the high-cut bikini holding the "Get Ready" sign. Regaining your composure as she walks off the track, you once again set your mind to the task at hand. The count-down begins. Concentrating on the cars in front of you, you begin devising strategies to pass each one of them. Three, two_ You know this track like the back of your hand and nothing's going to stop you from taking the first place trophy. The counter reaches one, and you're off! Pushed back into your bucket seats, your magnificent car leaps from the starting point. It's an excellent start. It won't be easy but somehow you know you're on your way to another first place finish.

Ridge Racer Revolution If you've played the original Ridge Racer, you won't want to miss Ridge Racer Revolution. The spectacular graphics have been polished, removing all artifacts from the game engine. The interface has remained simple to use but takes time to master. The sound effects and voice-overs are both spectacular. The techno music that so many people enjoyed is back with a vengeance in RRR. Moreover, there are now 3 tracks to choose from along with 3 hidden tracks.

RRR is one of the most beautiful racing games on the market today. From the sharp look of the cars to the realistic environment, the graphics in Ridge Racer Revolution are spectacular. Unlike its competitor (The Need for Speed), RRR has no artifacts from the gaming engine. The track never breaks up at the bottom of the screen and the graphics never suffer the ravages of dithering. Ridge Racer Revolution is fast, responsive, and it never slows down because of too much going on. Now when racing the intermediate or expert courses the world changes from day to night back to morning while you're racing. Words cannot describe the sheer elegance with which the effect is done or how much of an impact it makes on the enjoyment of the game. Also new is the rearview mirror at the top of the screen. Now you can see when there's a computer opponent hot on your tail.

The interface to RRR is simple to learn, but can take a while to master. Sure you have the directional pad to turn left or right and you have buttons to accelerate, brake and shift gears. But when racing with a gamepad, it can become tricky knowing how long to hold any one button for how long. Those with an analog steering wheel will most likely perform better on the track and probably have better times. Beyond the input devices, Ridge Racer Revolution has an unusual take on environmental collisions. Instead of scraping the edge of a wall causing sparks to fly out (as it should), you bounce off the wall with a significant speed-loss. This bouncing effect happens even if there's grass on the shoulder of the track! There should have been a shoulder on the racetrack in case you could recover before you hit a rail or a wall. The least that could have been done was to slow you down as long as you made contact with a wall instead of a sudden bounce.

Ridge Racer Revolution Adding to the realism of RRR are the realistic environmental sounds that put you in the middle of the game. These well done effects can only be distinguished when all music has been muted. Then you'll experience the sensation of driving through a tunnel, or under a helicopter or any of the many other very realistic sounds. The voice over announcer is your standard coin-op game-show-host guy who shouts out advice and taunts. It's great when he praises you with a "well done!" but can irk you into trying harder with a slightly annoying, "Ha, ha! You're too slow!".

The techno music that apparently many people liked is back in Ridge Racer Revolution with over 10 different tracks. You can have them play randomly or you can choose to listen to your favorite track repeatedly. I for one hated the music. I'm not a big fan of the repetative and often annoying techno soundtracks that have made their way into mainstream music. However, according to sources on the Internet (FAQ's and such) once RRR has loaded you can replace the game CD with your own music CD. I haven't tried this, but it would be a welcome change. If that doesn't work, you can turn the music off under the options screen.

One of the disappointing features of Ridge Racer Revolution are the limited number of race tracks available. Okay, okay, I understand that there are more tracks in RRR but 6 just isn't enough for a racing game! (Three of the tracks are available by default and you must find the other 3 hidden tracks.) Unfortunately the other 3 tracks are simply mirror images of the original 3 tracks. There should be at least 9 or more tracks up front with hidden tracks as an option. Instead of making 1 track for each skill level, why not make 2 or 3 tracks at each skill level?

Ridge Racer Revolution On a side note, the most original ideas I've ever seen was implemented in RRR. When you start up the game it first loads a mini-game--Galaga 88. So while the real game is busy in the background loading, you're entertained with an arcade classic. This idea should be mimicked by every other game company because of its usefulness. The developer of the game has entertained you during the time it takes to load the real game AND it can be used as a key to hidden features of the main game. (In RRR it's rumored that you can gain access to more cars when you destroy all the enemies in the Galaga 88 game.)

Ridge Racer Revolution is currently the only racing game of it's kind. It brings home the coin-op arcade feel and puts it on your television. The graphics are incredible and fast. The sound effects and voice-overs are excellent as well. While I could live without the chalkboard-scratching noise called techno, those who like it will love the music in RRR. Even though there are such a limited number of tracks to choose from, they're challenging and will take a while to master. So strap yourself in and get ready for the ride of your life. We're going racing!

-- Louis Stice
-- louis@psyber.com

Players: 1 (2 with link-up)Password: No
Memory Card: Yes, 1 BlockLink-Up: Yes
ESRB Rating: Kids-Adults

Are you ready to race?Front Door

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