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Unbounded frustration among the thrills

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Many crashes in Ridge Racer Unbounded are spectacular.

Many crashes in Ridge Racer Unbounded are spectacular.

Japan's ailing video game publishers know they must now appeal to the West, and are increasingly entrusting even their most cherished franchises to faraway developers. Even Nintendo now regularly works with Western studios.

Ridge Racer Unbounded from Namco is the latest example, and is a bold reinvention of the classic arcade racing series. Available now for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, the game was created by BugBear Entertainment, the Finnish makers of Flatout, and is a big departure from previous Ridge Racer games.

Wild powerslides are still necessary for success, but are now primarily a tool to fill up a power meter that allows access to a turbo boost reward. The game's focus is using the boost to spectacularly crash into opponents and hurtle through roadside scenery and even entire buildings.

The Shatter Bay setting is an amalgam of American cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Your sightseeing through the town is broken up by a series of challenges slowly unlocked by accumulating points.

The demanding events include domination races where the objective is to cause mayhem as well as finish first, drift contests where it is all about careering sideways around corners, "frag attacks" that concentrate on rival takedowns, and time-based challenges that feature crazy, ramp-filled courses.

Progress is difficult because the speedy computer-controlled foes are incredibly aggressive and the art of powersliding cars featuring such heavy handling is challenging to master.

It can also be difficult to judge what parts of the environment are destructible and what will bring about your vehicle's dramatic demise. 

Rewards include varied new rides and additional pieces for the terrific track editor which allows you to publish your own circuits, complete with obstacles and jumps. You can also set your own challenges for players around the world to attempt to beat.

Unbounded provides some thrilling moments, but unfortunately is likely to frustrate as often as it entertains. 

What have you been playing lately?

 

twitter Screen Play is on Twitter: @screenplayblog

25 comments so far

  • Is it just me or does the new Ridge Racer sound a lot like the Burnout series?

    Played more Dark Souls on the weekend. Having trouble getting through a certain area but I am slowly making progress. Also had a few drinks with some mates and hit the Wii for some Mario Kart, Wii Sports and New Super Mario Bros. The Wii is without a doubt the best system for social gaming.

    Commenter
    Dr Charlesworth
    Date and time
    May 07, 2012, 7:52AM
    • Had a great weekend for gaming.

      - Played through Botanicula, which is GORGEOUS. Short but sweet, well worth a playthrough.

      - FINALLY beat my mate's 1,000,000+ high score in Bejewelled 3's Diamond Mine mode. Ha!

      - More Deus Ex: Human Revolution. In Singapore now, so on the home stretch.

      - Beat Satan for the first time ever in the Binding of Isaac. The expansion must be landing any day now!

      Commenter
      luverly_5pam
      Location
      Lookin' out the window? That's a paddlin'.
      Date and time
      May 07, 2012, 7:58AM
      • I heard that Ridge Racer Unbounded was a nice mix of all the recent racers... Blur, Split Second, Burnout etc. The question is "Does it do anything better?".

        Whilst continuing with Mass Effect 3 during the limited 'kids asleep' and obligatory 'Game of Thrones' and 'talking to the wife' time, there has been plenty on the Vita to keep me occupied.

        Working on the stars and on-line tournaments in Everybody's Golf, enjoying the absurdity of Frobisher Says and trying out an unexpected gem. The majority of PlayStation Minis tend to be of dubious quality, however the PlayStation Plus freebie Velocity is extremely good. It's a vertical shooter that allows you to increase the scroll speed with the shoulder button. The most interesting mechanic is the ability to move and then warp to a cursor. This tight gameplay coupled with a great soundtrack makes it well worth grabbing!

        Awaiting the arrival of Zen Pinball 2 this month. The developers have promised a new platform merging the Zen and Marvel platforms into one framework. Better still, all tables purchased will come across... and be available on the Vita for no extra cost! Now that's how to treat your fans.

        Commenter
        Scubafinch
        Location
        The Rocks
        Date and time
        May 07, 2012, 8:18AM
        • I played two young kids with gastro all weekend (feel free to make your own jokes about area of effect or splash damage)but snuck in some some Assasins Creed Brotherhood on the 360, a little bit of Torchlight on PC and some Disgaea on the Vita.

          Commenter
          Blahzy
          Location
          Steam & XBL: Blahzy - PSN: Blahzy78
          Date and time
          May 07, 2012, 8:27AM
          • had a weekend with nothing on but actually did very little gaming . much more beer, watching footy and playing guitar

            looking forward to minecraft on the 360 this week just to see what the hell this minecraft is all about

            Commenter
            mongey
            Date and time
            May 07, 2012, 8:44AM
            • Too many games, not enough uni.

              Have gotten a whole bunch of games working in dos box.

              Played some borderlands. Second play through after its initial release, still not seeing why everyone was so excited about it. So many hit detection problems we were having, plus we had to use stupid gamespy when running through steam.

              Also restarted Emporer Battle for Dune, and Theme Hosptial, plan to finish all 3.

              Commenter
              gankul
              Date and time
              May 07, 2012, 10:12AM
              • Spent some time playing Bastion. Really nice aesthetic to that game, I'm a little sad it took me this long to pick it up.

                Commenter
                azzski
                Location
                The Cow Level
                Date and time
                May 07, 2012, 12:05PM
                • Deus Ex - the original, Invisible War and Human Revolution. Cant get enough of it! Ever since I restarted Deus Ex: HR and beat the first boss, I'm loving it and am just about to meet the second boss I think.

                  Ive also been ummming and ahhing about ME3, tossing whether to start it now or wait till I can connect to Xbox live to download the Collectors Edition content. We have just moved house and only Telstra service our area so far and still using Optus wireless broadband which for the life of me cant connect it to my Xbox

                  Commenter
                  Col. Harlan J. Sanders, USMC (Ret.)
                  Location
                  Kentucky
                  Date and time
                  May 07, 2012, 12:25PM
                  • Due to the lack of ability to comment today (grr Fairfax commenting system), Hypemeter postponed until tomorrow afternoon.

                    Commenter
                    luverly_5pam
                    Location
                    Talkin' outta turn? that's a paddlin'
                    Date and time
                    May 07, 2012, 4:11PM
                    • Comments working now? Yay.

                      Beat Fez over the weekend. It's enjoyable enough, and some of the puzzles are good, but it has some very frustrating parts. The map is hideous and hard to navigate, and the control pad direction puzzles are annoying. Will give it a bit of a break before I come back and try to complete it.

                      Been playing a lot of Rayman Origins as well. Having a lot of fun with it. The best platformer I've played in a long time.

                      Also popped Skyrim in after a long break. Definitely in need of a close range weapon to compliment my bow.

                      Commenter
                      Tiger
                      Location
                      Work
                      Date and time
                      May 07, 2012, 4:28PM

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