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Ridge Racer Unbounded Review — IGN

Ridge Racer Unbounded

By Cam Shea

Updated: Apr 2, 2012 4:17 pm

Posted: Mar 31, 2012 1:47 am

Let’s get it out of the way at the top of the show. Ridge Racer Unbounded is Ridge Racer in name only. This game has about as much in common with Ridge Racer as Forza 4, or Hot Pursuit, or any other racer you’d care to name. As such, you can forget about ludicrously over-the-top powerslide mechanics. You can also forget about gleaming cities, winding mountain paths and beachside runs under an azure sky. About the only thing you can depend on is a suitably ravey soundtrack, with a number of old Ridge Racer tracks, as well as the now obligatory dubstep.
None of this is necessarily a bad thing, however. As much as I love Ridge Racer, the series has been steadily losing its relevance and vitality, so a kick in the pants was definitely in order. It is interesting, however, that Namco Bandai appears to have given Finnish developer Bugbear carte blanche to disregard pretty much everything that made Ridge Racer Ridge Racer. No matter, judged on its own merits this is a great racing game.

Unsurprisingly, Ridge Racer Unbounded shares a great deal of DNA with Bugbear’s well-respected racing series FlatOut. The handling is similarly weighty, the courses littered with destructible elements, the racing combative and the challenge just about pitch perfect. Bugbear has taken all its greatest strengths and honed them, creating its best racer yet.

Loading The game’s single player component is set within one city – Shatter Bay, so the environments are resolutely urban throughout. Whether you’re racing amongst the skyscrapers of City Center, through the construction sites of Tower Heights or along the derelict industrial streets of Old Town, it’s all about city racing.

Unbounded is at its best when the racing is combative, the action rough and tumble. Of all the race types on offer, Domination exemplifies this the most and is by far the highlight. Domination races are about more than just finishing in the top three, they’re also about taking down – or ‘fragging’ – other racers, doing collateral damage to the world around you, triggering explosive events and earning awards.

The level of destructibility in Unbounded is hugely impressive, and definitely a step up from anything other racers have done. The general rule of thumb? If it’s smaller than your vehicle, chances are you can drive through it. Low walls, concrete support beams, statues in the town square and kiosks can all be smashed straight through. Drifting sideways through a series of low walls as you cut a corner tight is ridiculously satisfying, with the brickwork practically exploding on impact, accompanied by chunky impactful sound effects.

It’s like some kind of metropolis street racer…

And that’s just the beginning. Once you’ve filled your power meter – by drifting, drafting and catching air, the game starts highlighting targets on the course. It might point out a tanker truck, just begging to be blown sky high, or a wall that you can crash through to take a short cut. Just line yourself up and use your power meter for a sustained speed boost to crash through these targets. Boosting is also used to frag other cars (although it’s still possible to do take-downs without it), and pretty much everything you do comes with a reward.

In fact, more than anything else, Unbounded is about points. You get points for coming in the top three, you get points for fragging other cars, doing collateral damage, triggering events and earning awards. You’ll get 15,000 points for coming first in a race, but for most of the Domination events that’s less than half what you should wind up with. As you earn points in each district you unlock new races, and as you earn points (in any part of the game) you also earn XP and rank up, which unlocks new cars and components for the course editor.

It’s great stuff, and the points system ties neatly into the game’s focus on spectacle. Not only is it cool to barge another car into oblivion, but you’re rewarded for it. Not only is it kick-ass to drive through a courthouse, but you’re rewarded for it. And then there are the 30-40 awards per course too. These are mini-achievements that can be anything from drifting for a certain length of time or hitting a certain speed, to triggering events or fragging opponents in different ways. Earning awards also fills your power meter, so it’s not uncommon to chain together a whole sequence of take-downs and destruction.

Domination events are definitely challenging. It’s not uncommon to have several cracks at a race before you place in the top three, but you’ll be compelled to do so, and even once you’ve ‘dominated’ that event, chances are you’ll still feel the urge to revisit it and try for a higher score.

The other race types are a little less successful. They include Frag Attack, where players try and take down as many opponents as possible, Shindo Racing, which strips out most of the combative/destructive elements and focuses instead on straight-up racing, Time Trials, which are set in stunt courses and have players collecting bonus time tokens, and Drift Attack, in which players drift to earn points and time extensions. While all these race types are serviceable, by and large they’re simply not as entertaining as Domination, nor is there as much depth to the challenge, because the points system is pared back. You’ll need to get good at all of them, however, as the game is very much structured around getting points in every event.

Unbounded is at its best when the racing is combative.

I’ve already mentioned that the game’s handling model is weighty, but it’s also excellent: arcadey, but with enough depth that it takes a while to master. Each vehicle also feels quite unique, and finding the right one for your driving style – and the task at hand – is paramount. I personally like aggressively drifting around corners, so I prefer a vehicle with high handling stats and low drift, for that perfect combination of twitchy steering and stability. There’s something for everyone though, and while the game is far more challenging when you can’t find a vehicle that suits your style, it’s also fun to be forced to adapt.

It’s also worth nothing that while each of the nine districts has its own unique elements and setting, there’s no doubt the racing does get a little samey at times, and this is only heightened by the fact that you’ll see sections of track repeated regularly, which can give a strong sense of de ja vu. It’s not surprising – the game ships with a grid-based track (and city) editor, and it would appear that this is how the main game was also built. While it’s not that big a deal, it’s a bit disappointing to have the illusion of place shattered by repetition. Even so, this is an attractive world – colourful and stylish, despite the gritty urban focus.

Unbounded’s single player component will keep you going for quite a while – particularly as you try to eke out enough first places and points to unlock all the districts and events, but it’s got a whole lot more to offer. Online multiplayer is included, of course, but of far more interest is the city creator, which allows players to do more than just build individual courses; it enables them to build several in slots around their own custom city, then publish the set online.

Each individual course is built on a grid, with players laying down tiles. These are unlocked as you rank up, and by the time you’re most of the way through the single player campaign, you’ll have enough to create some pretty sweet courses. Once you’ve laid down your tiles you can hop in to see how it feels, and place all the ramps, explosive barrels and interactive elements you want to include. It’s very straightforward, with all the event types available, and – most crucially – it doesn’t skimp on the stuff that makes Unbounded so great. Players can still include tankers to blow up and buildings to drive through, and it all fits together seamlessly.

It looks dark and grittty, but Unbounded is surprisingly colourful at times.

Once you’re done, you can activate your course by placing in it – i.e. proving that it’s beatable. Do that for all your city’s courses, and you can publish it online, and your scores will go out to the world. Cooler still, you can set challenges, giving people a certain amount of time to beat your scores, and dominate your city.

It’s all very cool, and while still early days, there’s plenty of content up already, and people are building some pretty interesting courses. Filtering the content is straightforward too, as is tagging anything you like as a favourite. It’s clear that a lot of care has gone into this aspect of the game, and it’s refreshingly innovative, too.

Bugbear has traditionally developed cult hits, so it’s great to see the studio given the opportunity to work with a major franchise. Unbounded may not have much to do with the things that defined Ridge Racer, but if you can get over that, you’ll discover an energetic, entertaining racer, with gratifyingly destructive environments, challenging gameplay and interesting online. Ridge Racer was due for a reboot, and here it is.

Cam is the Senior Editor at IGN Australia. You can follow the Aussie team on Facebook here, and keep track of Cam on IGN here.

Ridge Racer Unbounded Review

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Cam Shea

Ridge Racer Unbounded Review | Eurogamer.

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I feel it’s important to state up front that some reviews of Ridge Racer Unbounded will be a cautionary tale for developers about the importance of including a tutorial. Diligent critics such as myself will labour away at Bugbear’s new arcade racing game for hours on end and their experience will be horrible. It will be a war of attrition and nothing will make sense.


Envisaged as a counterpoint to the traditional slide-happy Ridge Racer — a sort of evil twin with destructible scenery and violent takedowns — it feels like a poor cross between Split/Second and Burnout 3. By drifting, drafting and smashing through scenery, you fill a Power meter, which you can then deploy to either create shortcuts through smashable walls, set off explosives, or crash into other cars directly to «frag» them — Unbounded’s version of the classic Takedown. But it’s all so perilously bland.


You can blast your way through all sorts of buildings, highlighted by on-screen icons when you’re powered up, but the carnage lacks the punch of Split/Second’s collapsing airports or MotorStorm’s apocalypse, and the shortcuts you create seldom give you much of an advantage anyway. The takedowns, meanwhile, require little skill and hardly feel explosive; they’re more like mild prangs elevated to slow-motion extravaganzas so as to inject spectacle into otherwise-flaccid racing.


Worst of all, the cars are no fun to drive. In a straight line the difference between 40 and 140 is barely discernible, and in corners even the nimblest-looking RWD is hamstrung by understeer, while drifting seems frustratingly inconsistent. Unlike classic Ridge Racer, where even the slightest brush of the brake sends you gliding through sharp corners in a wonderfully impossible lateral slide, here you’re expected to haul your car bodily around corners at low speeds in an apparent but ill-advised nod to realism.

In this captured Demolition Race, we smash our way to the front then, er, throw it all away.


To add further insult, the AI cars are ferocious, and if you make even the slightest mistake you will never catch them. You fill up the Power bar too slowly to make much use of the destruction, so most of the time you’re just driving slowly along a straight road, cursing your lack of acceleration while other racers stream past you and then vanish round the next corner — along with any hopes you had of breaking through to the next tier of events.


After several days of this, it’s fair to say I was ready to throw Ridge Racer Unbounded under the nearest bus and then hijack the same bus and crash it into the game’s weeping relatives. Then, just as I was about to rip it to shreds, one of the game’s publicists said, «You’re not using the drift button like a handbrake, are you?»


The drift button always seemed a bit weird. The only drifting I believe in is the union between a brake pedal and an accelerator, followed by the blessed debate they have about traction whenever you enter a corner at ridiculously high speed. The drift button in Unbounded didn’t appear to add much to the discussion: you could achieve the same sort of painful, inadequate low-speed turns using the regular brake, and the only difference seemed to be that the drift button usually spat you sideways into a wall at high speed. Obviously I played around with it a lot under different circumstances, but it didn’t seem to help matters.

Caption

Attribution


Then I tried holding it down the whole way through a corner.


It is impossible to understate the difference that this makes to Ridge Racer Unbounded. It might as well be renamed the ‘fun’ button. By turning into a corner early, holding down the drift button and then massaging the brake and accelerator as well, you can hurtle around any bend at almost top speed, carrying almost all those miles-per-hour out through the exit. Then release. It transforms the game. After a few minutes staring at the screen in disbelief, I elected to start the whole review again from scratch.

«It is impossible to understate the difference the drift button makes to Ridge Racer Unbounded. It might as well be renamed the ‘fun’ button.»


The drift button ties the whole game together. All of a sudden you can fill your Power bar every few seconds rather than every other minute, meaning that the previously limp takedowns and good-looking but unhelpful shortcuts come thick and fast, and time previously spent plodding down straights is spent wrestling for grip and blasting through rivals. Whole races become unbroken chains of nerve-fraying drifts, pulverising frags and massive explosions.


Suddenly the AI makes sense. It’s still very difficult — even when you’ve mastered the handling this is a tough game, not recommended for Sunday drivers — but it’s reasonably fair, and your newfound capacity to maintain speed and destruction throughout the race means you can actually get back into contention even when you crash a couple of times or mess up a corner. This was previously impossible.


The handling itself, once so obtuse and frustrating, reveals itself to be a tidy and satisfying affair, closer to something like Project Gotham Racing than Ridge Racer. You can have the most fun getting to know it in the Shindo Racing and Drift Attack challenges that break up the frags-and-explosions Demolition events. With the drift button firmly under your control, you learn to play with the track, choosing when to grip and when to slide as you slalom overpowered cars along broad boulevards and over highways.


The breakthrough moment comes the first time you swing early into a 90-degree corner, sideways before you even reach the apex, and feel that little surge of adrenaline as the front wheel sweeps past the edge of a concrete wall on the inside and you pile on the power and accelerate back onto the next straight. If you have full control of and can reliably repeat this moment in a racing game, then you are playing a very good one.

The Drift Attack event are a great place to hone your mastery of the drift button. Watch this video we captured to see how.


The rest of Unbounded is welcome dressing. Time Attack events add ramps and half-pipes to busy streets, which feels out of place but sort of works, and the course creator is a particular highlight. The interface could be improved, but it’s simple enough to throw together quite complex courses using the chunky blocks that represent straights, corners, crossroads, highways, bridges and underpasses, before going in and laying down fine detail.


There’s much less flexibility than ModNation Racers or TrackMania, so you won’t be recreating Mario Circuit 1 with any great accuracy, but by joining the best parts of the better campaign tracks — a suspension bridge here, a container yard there — you can create tonally skittish but memorably loony circuits with little difficulty. You can then share them online and take part in races on other people’s, tackling the creator’s best times, scores and drift totals, and those of your friends.


The fine details are nicely supportive too. You’re encouraged to replay events to achieve better results by an experience points system that sets high thresholds for unlocking the toughest races in a series, but your failed attempts along the way aren’t in vain, because even they shovel quite a few thousand more points into your personal XP level, and ranking up unlocks new cars and new parts for the course creator.


To slow things down for a second, Unbounded isn’t quite up there with the legends of the genre, for all its unexpected redemption. The quality of the circuit design is a bit inconsistent — a handful of memorable right-handers and juddering bridge sprints bogged down by a wash of overlong straights, generic intersections and awkward hairpins — and the AI is a bit too capable of overhauling you under strained circumstances. More than most, it’s also crying out for the now-standard rewind function — without it you will find yourself reaching for the pause-and-restart button combo potentially dozens of times per event.


Against all odds, though, this is a great game, and a distant cry from the pain and misery that accompanied my early days of Ridge Racer Unbounded. And all because of the drift button — a magic revelation that illustrates in hilarious detail how some games can be more than the sum of their parts, even when their individual components taken apart seem to hold little promise.


As I said at the outset though, this is a cautionary tale: nowhere in Unbounded does it tell you that you have to hold down the drift button the whole way through a corner, going against instincts built up by every other arcade racer ever, in order to have fun. When you do hold it down, though, Ridge Racer Unbounded is brilliant.

8
/ 10

Candela C-POD — a revolution today — INTERPARUS

The Swedish company introduces the most efficient outboard engine in history. A little about the history and how it is more profitable than competitors — you will be surprised.

Candela, the Swedish electric boat manufacturer from Stockholm, has unveiled what can be described as “the most efficient outboard motor ever”, the Candela C-POD electric drive.

Where and why?

Candela C-POD will be installed on pleasure boats of the future. Especially on branded boats with hydrofoils. By the way, it will be an innovative type of water transport. Wings and electricity — there have been attempts before, but this one is unique. nine0003

The uniqueness lies in the design. By the way, boat engines that transmit thrust to the propeller through a complex set of shafts and bearings use gears. The Candela C-POD does away with gears entirely.

Design Feature

The company’s patented C-Pod consists of two electric motors. Each of these drives a counter-rotating propeller to provide a total power output of 50 kW (67 hp).

Two ultra-compact yet powerful electric motors are installed underwater in a torpedo-like nest. They directly drive the propellers. nine0003

By the way, each engine is connected directly to the propeller, which minimizes friction losses. Counter-rotating propellers provide high propeller efficiency.

“The engineering challenge was to make the motors small enough,” says Gustav Hasselskog, founder and CEO of Candela. «While under water, they must have a very small diameter in order to cause minimal drag. »

Problem solved by C-POD

By placing the motors under water, Candela has also solved a problem that all electric motors face: heat. Candela C-POD engineers have designed a compact drive unit with direct and efficient seawater cooling, allowing for higher operating temperatures and more power from the motors.

“The first hurdle in building a very small but powerful engine is heat,” says Hasselskog. “You can take any engine and give it three times the power it’s designed for. And he will work. But only a few seconds. nine0003

Candela C-POD provides virtually unlimited cooling capacity — we just need to transfer heat from the engine to the surrounding water stream.”

Peace and quiet is all about C-POD

Silence is another benefit. The Candela C-POD has no gears and is therefore completely silent even at 30 knots. In addition, the Candela C-POD has very few moving parts. Despite this, this engine will run for several thousand hours without any maintenance. nine0003

The development of a more efficient engine directly leads to a huge increase in flight range.

A little more about the design

The

C-Pod was designed to “provide a near-indefinite life” when thanks to a long maintenance interval. By the way, this interval is 3000 hours.

Add to that the fact that you don’t need an oil change or other major repair. However, the engines are cooled directly in the water. For the average recreational sailor, this results in years of use without maintenance. nine0003

The specifications of the C-Pod are as follows:

Power 50 kW

Weight 26 kg

Propellers: multi-directional propellers.

Propeller efficiency 80%

3000+ hour life without maintenance

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