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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Namco Bandai
Namco Bandai
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-4
TBA 2008
Ridge Racer 7

Ridge Racer 6

Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer DS

R: Racing Evolution

More in this Series
 Written by Adam Woolcott  on April 03, 2007

Import Review: Why do a sequel when you can just slap a 2 on basically the same damn game?

Ridge Racer was one of the top reasons to own a PSP at its launch, and its quality was met in kind by solid sales to back it up. So how were those dutiful owners rewarded for making the game a success ? the import only Ridge Racer 2, of course. However, there's a reason why this game is currently only available in Asia and Europe... it's basically the same damn game. Aside from a few new gameplay features, a half-dozen or so 'new' tracks, and some added cars, Ridge Racer 2 looks, feels, and plays like its predecessor. Sure if you never got around to the original RR on PSP, this is the ultimate version to buy, but unless you're a real die-hard for the series there's no real reason to buy the same game twice, and in its own way Namco should be ashamed for trying to pull a fast one like this and add a 2 to the end of the game when it should say 'ultimate edition' instead.

It's true ? nearly everything about Ridge Racer 2 is recycled ? even the interface. The intro game has changed to the original Rally-X, but the menu screens, most of the music and in-game presentation ? not to mention the graphics themselves, aside from the new courses - is the same thing as what was in the first PSP game. The only shred of evidence that the game has new content is the handful of new modes, in the Duel and Survival types. Duel is just a quick race against a single car, something from the World Tour. Survival is a lap knockout that's pretty fun but it doesn't show up in the World Tour so it's purely tacked on. To round out the 'new' stuff, a classic Arcade mode is the checkpoint-style throwback to the original two Ridge Racer games from the arcade and PlayStation. But that's about it. There's not even Infrastructure online play, which might have made this more recommendable, instead it's the same old Ad Hoc local wireless.

The World Tour itself includes a few new cars and tracks, but otherwise is the exact same thing as the original game. Most of the new tracks come from the classic Ridge Racer Type 4, and that's a good place to choose. These new tracks are integrated with the others, and there's a few exclusive events that weren't in Ridge Racer, yet generally the World Tour stuff is the same as it ever was. The big difference is that it's much tougher to get to the EX races compared to the first PSP game, as there's a long line of difficult Duels against crazy-fast cars which challenge your sanity after a while. The question is more whether someone has the patience to play through what's basically a completely rehashed World Tour to get there, as it's not something that's possible to finish in a day or so, not with the way the game sucks the life out of the PSP's battery. But again, if you missed it the first time around, the World Tour is a fun, challenging and lengthy game for racing fans on the go.

At the same time, it's tough to slam the game itself, as it has the same high-quality racing action as before, even if it's not exactly new. It's just too familiar given what's going on here. The crazy drifting action is as great as ever, though that's not a total surprise given it's the same as it was two years ago. Ridge Racer's gameplay has always been a love or hate thing, and it's the same way here ? either you like the extremely unrealistic cornering or damn it to hell, with little middle ground. Suffice it to say if you enjoy classic Ridge Racer play, that quality is here. But then, if you enjoy that, you already played the original PSP game, which makes this nearly irrelevant. The new tracks will test your abilities, but it won't take long to master them as well. It seems like the computer AI was enhanced a smidge as a few events are tougher than I remember, but even then it won't take long to blow everyone off the road until you get to those hair-pulling-out duels against cars far better than yours.

Bottom Line
How can one rate a game like Ridge Racer 2? Clearly if you haven't experienced the original Ridge Racer PSP release, this is definitely the better one to acquire (though you can get the original game for 20 bucks nowadays), as it has more cars, tracks, added music, and some new playtypes. But for everyone else, well...chances are you'll be quite annoyed at a game that almost makes no apologies for being purely a basic expansion pack that Namco-Bandai is pushing as a legitimate sequel; if they weren't there'd not be a 2 on the end of the title. Obviously the game is as great as ever, but this is akin to EA releasing a new Madden game, only without the newest rosters and no significant changes to the overall formula (one could argue they do that now, but that's a topic for another review). All one can do is be cautious ? if you see Ridge Racer 2 in an import shop or maybe a Fry's Electronics, know what you're getting into ? a game that's less a version 2 and more like a version 1.2. And that's probably being generous.

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