Monday, September 19, 2011

Ridge Racer: U, GRID, & Driver: San Francisco

Right now, there are rumors circulating about this Daytona "port."  Is this a straight up port of Daytona USA?  That's what I think.  But it's certainly strange that the namesake defies tradition because it doesn't have "Online Arcade" in the title...why do we have OutRun Online Arcade, Sega Rally Online Arcade, then just Daytona USA?  There's other theories floating around that this is really a Daytona USA compilation or even a Sega All-Stars Racing 2 but...I don't know.  I don't know enough to talk about it.

Every day I accumulate all these thoughts in my head and I need to post them on this blog.  So I can't just "drop" everything because we're on the verge of Sega history.  We're doing okay so please take it easy.


Anyway, I'm looking at this Ridge Racer Unbounded game and there's not much good to say about it.  I'm still cryin' over this game's release.  Putting aside all the crap Burnout elements, I first notice that the game runs at 30 FPS, a glaring demerit that all racing games should avoid (Sega All-Stars Racing unfortunately does this, but it redeems itself in other ways).  Also, it still doesn't look anything like Ridge Racer.

I really love the part at :50 and 1:13 where the sports car was able to plow through three concrete pillars AND a wall without so much as a dent.  About as absurd as driving through the water in California Speed.

As a matter of fact, Ridge Racer Unbounded looks like Flatout (a previous Bugbear game, see above) with a Burnout/NFS motif.  Believe it or else, Bugbear also handled the PSP port of Sega Rally Revo....

You could take out the "Ridge Racer" part of the title and you'd never even know.  The only thing that has to do with Ridge Racer is Reiko Nagase, the Ridge Racer girl.  WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???

Unshameful Reiko Nagase Pic

EDIT: ARRRRGGGHHH, why don't these pics work the first time???
Also, another thing you see here is a very unique alternative to the traditional racing HUD.  The score & position are emitted holo-screen style from specific walls on the track.  Kind of like in Split/Second with the HUD items glued to the car bumpers.  My main problem with this is that I can't just check my position/score anytime I want--I have to wait for one of those screens to come around.  That's okay, I like's "cool" that way.

We went over something like this at FIEA, my gaming school.  One of the things that games are really pushing for is limited HUD's.  Basically, the less numbers on the screen, the better.  Numbers make you feel like you're playing a game!  Lack of numbers makes you feel like you're actually driving a car!  The whole goal is absorb as much data as possible without actually having to "think" (or glaze over) HUD items.

Really?  Are HUD items really that bad?  I like games like Daytona and they have all sorts of stuff on the screen--lap info, track layout, timer, tach/speedometer, etc.  You start taking away these things and it usually makes the game more shallow.  Get rid of the tachometer--bam, no need for manual transmission since you can't tell when to shift.  Get rid of the track map--bam, you stop driving tactically and start driving reactionary--no need to "plan" your racing line, just twitch at the sign of any turn.  Get rid of the speedometer and--bam, you might as well be riding a bicycle instead.  Get rid the timer--bam, you have all the time in the world to jerk off.  See what I'm getting at here?

As a matter of fact, you can use the HUD to make the game more immersive.  For instance, in Daytona USA 2, when you crash, the HUD rocks back and forth along with the car suspension.  So implicit details like this are just icing on the cake.

Also, Ridge Racer Unbounded will have some sort of Create-A-City Mode...odds are it won't be as detailed as we hope and it doesn't even matter anyway since I'm not looking to invest in this game anyway.


And here's GRID--some Codemasters arcade game published by Sega.  Yes, I know GRID was also on home consoles, but any decent arcade games that Sega can get out there, that's money in their pocket so w/e.  Basically, I feel like I'm watching the Project Gotham Racing trailer.  Although it kind of reminds me of Scud Race with the various real-life sports cars (the Saleen, the CCGT, etc.) and cool tracks like Spa Francorchamps.  Does this game have over six cars per race though?  Remember playing Gran Turismo with just six cars on track at once?  How pathetic was that?

That eBay car is now burned into my brain.  Most eye-popping advertisement ever?  You can't avoid that logo no matter what you do (barring those leaderboards that get in the way).  Anyway, nothing new to see here--move along everyone...


And then there's Driver: San Francisco.  Well, we all know about Driver--that free-roaming driving game that was soon usurped by Grand Theft Auto.  But this time, Driver: SF is actually....goodDrive 100+ licensed cars around San Francisco.  This included Lamborghinis and Vipers--just like Forza except you can break the law!  Sadly, this game also comes with a lousy-ass plot involving cops & criminals.  That's completely original to me, I must admit.

The "plot" in this game involves protagonist John Tanner being put into a coma.  That's great, we're playing as a guy in a coma.  But somehow, he has the power to to "shift" to (or possess) any car (or driver, I dunno) on the road.  I admit that this concept is completely new to me.  You can use it for pragmatic reasons (assist in completing an objective) or just for fun (steal your favorite car).  So if you're in a police chase, you can immediately jump into the body of a nearby truck driver or texting teenage girl and have them plow into the suspect to aid your cause.  Or if you're crusin' and you see that rich guy's convertible, you can take it and just splatter everyone on the road (well, you can't run over anyone in the game, which is good).

John are that wheelchair guy from X-Men.  NO, not Xavier, that creepy hospitalized guy.  While you're getting your sponge bath, you're breaking up massive drug/smuggling cartels and pitting soccer moms in a game of Chicken.  Now that's some scary s*** there, gentlemen.

Now all the girls will be MINE!

I know that this feature is a substitute for the on-foot portions of the game...where you're walking around finding cars to hijack.  Now I know that was my favorite part of the Driver games--don't drive, just go for a jog.  I'm disappointed that the got rid of that feature.


Anyway, if you take out all the Burnout elements, I'm pretty sure this is a damn good game...but another free-roam driver around a massive city?  See every GTA, every modern Need for Speed (except Pro Street), Saints Row 1/2, Midnight Club, previous Drivers, Streets of LA/NY, Burnout Paradise, The Getaway, L.A. Noire, etc.  I don't know man.  I know cop chases are fun, but dammit it's so cliche nowadays.  I'm undecided here.  I'd sure as hell take Driver: SF over RR: Unbounded, Split/Second, or all of that crap out there.

Or if you want a "boring" sim racer, check out F1 2011, nice to see a good traditional racer again (Formula 1 baby).

Woo........I'm tired......laters


  1. That new Ridge Racer is just a freaking joke. What a crock of shit. I was thinking of getting the new Driver, but only for the director mode. I had a lot of fun with driver 1's director mode, but haven't bothered with the games since, so I might just pick it up. Hudless gaming right now is just pretentious. I quit smoking right about the time The Getaway came out, and it almost made me kick my tv in.

  2. One positive thing to say about RR:U ...
    It looks more fun than Ridge Racer 7. That's all. And it's not that big of a compliment, really, RR7 was utter crap. Boring. Bland. Uninspired. Almost unplayable.

  3. Thanks for posting: Yeah, Hudless gaming is just getting too weird. And Driver was pretty fun on the PC.

    I cannot attest to the quality of Ridge Racer 7...if it sucks, it sucks. I don't even know what to make of the Ridge Racer series anymore. Their habit of releasing their games upon launch date proves they put little stock in them because people will buy it purely because it's one of two, maybe three, racing games to choose from.

    This reminds me how some Daytona 1 fans hated Daytona 2 because the handling was different and the crashes were too violent. At least Daytona 2 did something new with the series. If Sega went all the way up to Daytona 7 with hardly any changes, people wouldn't like it as much.

    Anyway, I'm getting a lot of anonymous comments...pick "Name/URL" under "Comment as" dropdown box and enter a name so I know who's posting what. Or better yet, create a Google account. Just a suggestion...