• Just missing out on the launch title line-up in Europe was the eagerly anticipated Ridge Racer 6 from Namco. Published in Europe by Electronic Arts, the first Ridge outing on the Xbox begins with the next generation in what can be described as a whole hearted, but in some cases, a slight let down of a game. How can we describe the all powerful vintage franchise in such a way? To put it simply, it could all have been done on the Xbox a long time ago. However, it’s not all bad with some excellent touches throughout the game, and might we advise you, it’s a big, big game at that!

    Ridge Racer 6

    Announced earlier last year, Ridge Racer 6 continues in the same vein as the original Hit series with time-trials and stages of the arcade, as well as some outstanding Live play to connect you to a whole world of Ridge racer fans. That’s where you hit the first problem. I’ve played the series in the arcades, and yet the majority of Xbox owners will not have even thought of the series unless they previously owned Sony’s PSOne or PS2. Slap them round the face for a start for utter ignorance of gaming royalty, then remind them that Namco haven?t got the Series to number six without providing an enjoyable and fast paced racer to the masses with some degree of success! The problem with bringing a new (yet historical) franchise to a new system is that 50% of your possible audience will be completely new to your product. Remember kids, games are products of business these days. When this reviewer was all by 5, Elite was released. That was the second surge of video gaming, designed on 8 bit computers for fun. These days, games like Ridge Racer can cost upwards of £5 million pounds to get to market, with market being the operative word.

    Having fifty percent of your target audience being new to a franchise can often be a gamble, and it is a gamble for RR6. However, to fans of the series, let me start by saying this; buy it! Back to the non fans now.. Ridge Racer 6 will be a nice looking Outrun 2 style game, offering you huge power-slides and the same level of gameplay genius which graced the Xbox 12 months ago and achieved critical acclaim as well as chart success. The thing is, RR6 won’t achieve the same kind of success for two reasons. One, it’s on a system with less than 1.5 million hardware units out there. Two, it’s an Xbox game with pretty graphics. It also has the misfortune of going up against the immensely good PGR3, which I wouldn?t wish on anyone, being a staunch supporter and loyal fan since Metropolis Street Racer on the Dreamcast.

    Graphically there’s some really high resolution textures throughout the game, with probably the coolest menu system around on the 360. Sound wise, it’s excellent borrowing from Outruns pitch for the best videogame soundtrack and weighing in with some hefty classic arcade tunes to compliment the newly composed. Why is this review really hard to write? Why does it stop and start? Well so does the game. Sections aren?t long enough while others are far too long and do being on a sense of boredom from time to time, so it won? really keep you occupied for hours unless you?re the biggest high score freak around. However, it is addictive in small doses, often beating the need for PES injection, circumventing my current fad for PGR3’s Gotham TV. Longevity isn’t a problem either with over 100 stages to complete at varying difficulty levels and with new cars to unlock and gamer achievements; it’ll be one of the more hardcore fans favourites.

    So, with a final word to write and a constantly changing scale for the review, it’s really hard to pin down the big draws of Ridge Racer 6, but at the same time, it’s still as hard to note it’s pitfalls. The best thing anyone can do is rent the game. You’ll love it or hate it, but you will keep playing it, and that’s where it’s true to its five predecessors; It’s just so playable. Anyway, enough of me…On with the scores!

    Score: 8/10

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