February 1, 2002
Overall score:  81 Ridge Racer Revolution (PSX)
by Namco  Reviewed by: Mark Skorupa

Screenshot The first racing game I ever bought for my Playstation was Ridge Racer. I loved that game. Why? I'm not really sure, but I think it was because it was the first real racing title to hit the market and there was nothing else to love. Here we are, over a year later, and Ridge Racer is collecting dust on my shelf -- but wait, is it true? A new Ridge Racer? Yes, that's right, Namco has taken the game I played for so many hours, added new tracks, and spit our Ridge Racer Revolution. Is this game worth the price of admission if you already own the first? Yes, if you loved the original, but if not, you may not be too impressed with the second.

Let's talk about what is new in the second installment of the series. Well, there are three new tracks and better graphics and, umm, well, that is about it. The cars are virtually the same except for maybe a few more hidden cars, but on the whole, your original four cars are the same as the original four cars in the first. Except for a few minor additions such as new music and a rearview mirror, the game is virtually the same.

For those of you that passed on the first Ridge Racer, let me explain the game. It is a car racing game. That about explains it. You have the choice of four cars from the beginning, each with characteristics unique to the car, and the object is to cross the finish line ahead of the 11 other cars. Sounds simple but it is not always that easy to do.

Since this section is titled gameplay, let's jump right into the racing action. Ridge Racer Revolution (RRR) is a fast, winding, screeching, slamming ride to the finish line. The thing that I liked so much about the original is the level of competition. It is not too hard and not too easy. You will always be able to pass the first wave of cars but the battle for the top spots is a bit more difficult. This keeps the game challenging and fun.

We all know that what makes or breaks a racing game is the controls of the vehicle. If the vehicle is not responsive enough, the game just wont cut it. On the flip side, if the vehicle is too responsive, driving becomes too difficult and the game gets assigned to shelf duty. Where does RRR fall in this mix? It really depends on the car you choose. Ridge Racer RevolutionSome are too responsive, some are not responsive enough and some are just right. Each car has a learning curve that gets you to the point where you feel comfortable racing the car. The cars with the tight grip and excellent handling are almost too responsive to the point where if you breath too heavy near the controller, you will smash into a wall. Basically, when you unlock all of the cars, there is bound to be one that fits your driving style.

The biggest change from the original game is the tracks. Unfortunately, RRR has the same problem as its predecessor. Not enough tracks. When you start the game, you have three choices for tracks; a short Novice track with mild corners, a longer Intermediate track which includes most of the Novice track but adds a detour section with rougher cornering and increased total length, and finally, an Expert track which includes most of the Novice and Intermediate tracks but adds some serious hairpin corners. So what does this all mean? You really only have three tracks and they are all derivatives of each other. Well, that is not entirely accurate. You can race each track in the wrong direction, which makes the tracks completely different. So I guess you could say that there are six tracks, sort of. This is the same problem that plagued the first title. We want more tracks!

On a positive note about the tracks, the ones that are in the game are always challenging and fun to race. Every race, from Novice to Expert, is a dogfight to the finish line. The action is always hot and heavy and the feeling of speed is quite well done. Even after you memorize every twist and turn, it is still a bit of a challenge to hold out the course of a race.

ScreenshotThe game does offer three different modes of racing. The first is an all out race to the finish. This is a three lap race against 11 other cars to the finish. The second is the time trial. This is a three lap, one on one race against the clock. If you finish first against the other car and your time is in the top six, you get to enter your initials and save the record. The last race type is called free run. This is a practice mode that goes unlimited laps as long as your race time never reaches zero. This is a great way to learn the tracks before digging in and racing against the rest of the field.

The graphics in RRR seem to be cleaned up a bit from the original with less break up. The racing environment is excellent and it definitely gives you the feel of rushing through a mountain pass. The cars are all well-drawn, and from the different racing views, there is a view that will satisfy just about everyone's racing preference. There is an occasional break up problem but it is minimal. The one major glitch is that at times, you will drive right through one of the other cars, but once again this is fairly minimal.

Bottom Line:
If you really liked the first one, you will love this game. I think it is one of the more intense racing games on the market. If there were only more tracks to select from, this game would be top-notch. The developers must have been thinking that the first one was successful with only three tracks, so why change? Unfortunately, that was my gripe with it as well. If you have not played the first one, you will definitely enjoy RRR. I just wish there were more changes from the original, instead of a cleaned-up version of the same game with new tracks. On the whole, though, this is a fun game that racing fans should enjoy.

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