Fans of the Ridge Racer
series may be a bit put off with this offering. It's presented as a Ridge Racer
game, but originally, it was going to be a completely different game. Namco saw what Bugbear Entertainment was doing and thought that, with a little bit of massaging, it could be an installment in the Ridge Racer
franchise. Die-hard fans may feel that it's far from the original Ridge Racer
game, but in all honesty, there's been good deal of movement and evolution in the feel of the series. Unbounded
brings with it some of the destructive fun found in the Burnout
series, and, personally, I think the game is quite fun; whether it should be in the Ridge Racer
series is something that fans can argue back and forth, ad infinitum, I'm sure.
Ridge Racer Undbounded has a few very different feeling offerings inside. First, there's the Story Mode, which has you progressing through a series of events, tracks and sections of a city. You initially have a single event available to you, but as you earn points in the events, others become unlocked and available to you.
There is also a normal online Multiplayer, which has you racing in the same types of events and locations as are featured in the Single Player Mode, but against real-life opponents over the Internet.
For me, however, the biggest draw is the Track Editor and the Cities of the World. Basically, you are given the ability to make your own tracks and events, pack them up in a city of your own creation and then publish your new city to the Ridge Racer Unbounded server, where players all over the world can download and try out your handiwork. Special challenges highlight user content, challenging players to attempt to beat the creators' scores on their own tracks. My most popular track to date is in my city, "Annistonia" (named for Psibabe) and is called, Fleet Enemy. In Fleet Enemy, you play the part of a policeman who has to attempt to single-handedly take down a gang of rogue commercial truckers in the middle of the night. Okay, okay... so I'm not going to be selling the movie rights anytime soon, but there's just something about rampaging around a city in the dead of night, rolling semi-trucks out of your way in an attempt to take out as many as you can within your five minute time limit that is somehow cathartic and soothing. (But you don't have to take my word for it. Check it out, yourself.)
Regardless of your arena, be it single player, multiplayer or user-submitted content, there are a few different types of races available. Domination Races are races, first and foremost, so you're trying to come in first - or as close to it as you can manage - but you're also awarded points to your score for wreaking general havoc on the city and your opponents. Drifting, blasting through buildings, destroying targets, taking out opponents in creative ways... all of these things contribute to your score in Domination Races. Shindo Racing is more about speed, with no destructive targets to be had. It's all about being fast and in control. Drifting earns you a boost, but it's just a speed boost, unlike the "Power Boost" from Domination Races that lets you bust through certain walls and perform a single-hit wreck-out on opponents.
Frag Attack is like Domination Races, but without the race element. Everything here is all about the destruction. This is the type of event I used in making Fleet Enemy, for example. There's a time limit and, within that time, you're trying to destroy a certain number of trucks and, well, whatever else you can, in order to make as many points as you can.
Drift Attack is pretty much what it sounds like, but be warned - it can be quite difficult to keep control of cars in Unbounded. I have seen my fair share of accidental donuts when simply trying to get back on the track. As popular as donuts may be with the kiddies these days, you have to have some forward motion to get Drift points, so playing sit-and-spin isn't earning you any love.
Another self-descriptive mode is Time Trials. The idea is to finish the course in under certain specified times. Mind you, with the editor featured in Unbounded, some of these Time Trials can be less quarter-mile run and a lot more obstacle-course-meets-jungle-gym... this must be what it's like to try free-running while in a car.