Tuesday, September 12, 2006

PS3 Ridge Racer 7 latest.

As you can see from the screenshots, Ridge Racer 7 looks great. The new tracks, like the Shanghai-inspired industrial course, and the 'Lost Ruins' track are built for high speed and high detail. While the team admits that the PS3 is tricky to code for, they guarantee that the final game will run at a rock solid 60 frames-per-second, and based on the fact that every game in the series has done so, we have no reason to doubt RR7 will too. Besides the beautiful light-sourcing, high-definition graphics, and offline, horizontal split-screen multiplayer action, Ridge Racer 7 adds new visual details, like fully-rendered 3D car drivers, whose arms turn the steering wheel in sync with the car's wheels.

Of course, Ridge Racer staple, Reiko Nagase, the CG race queen that's been a part of the series since Rage Racer (with the exception of her omission from Ridge Racer V) returns in fine form.

The team knows how loved she is by the fans, and has no plans to replace her with substitutes or stand-ins. Her mere presence adds a warmth and soul to what might otherwise be another faceless racing game, in a field full of shiny metallic chassis' and platinum rims.

On the audio side of things, the audio team that's been at the helm of both the sound effects and soundtracks since Rage Racer returns with an ear to bringing Ridge Racer 7's sound in line with the exciting techno that defined the arcade vibe of the original games over a decade ago. The sound effects of screeching tires and car collisions, and the soundtrack itself is running in an ear-quaking 5.1 channels of separated surround sound, and the audio not only sounds but feels tremendous.

Playing the game felt like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. Upon our first hands-on with the Lost Ruins track, we were able to place a respectable second place, even though it was the first time we'd sewn our way around the track. Drifting through turns was as tight and responsive as it's ever been, and playing it on a giant, widescreen, high-defintion TV at Namco's Meguro offices made us feel like we were part of a visceral, magnificent race. Putting the new slipstream element to the test, we saw a pick-up in speed when we pulled in behind a car, with the slipstream gauge filling up as we maintained our position. The longer you maintain the position without breaking the stream, so to speak, your speed increases, giving you a more fair shot at passing your opponents than the rubber-band AI of past games could offer. It's quite exhilarating to see the slipstream gauge tremble as it fills, indicating not only your increasing speed, but your upcoming slingshot opportunity. This element should provide the majority of the tactical thrills in online races this winter, as racers worldwide play on the same servers against each other, using the slipstream and nitro to maximum effect.

While the team remains mum on when exactly Ridge Racer 7 will ship, all signs point to the game being ready on launch day for the PS3, just as Ridge Racer 6 was available on Day 1 for Xbox 360, Ridge Racer V for PS2, and the very first Ridge Racer for the original PlayStation. Of course that's just our theory, but based on past history, the pattern suggests that high-speed drifting action will be available when the PS3 ships this November.

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